Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 16

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 16

PRESENT

Jeremiah 29:4–14

Jeremiah 28 provides key background information to assist in understanding the prophet’s message in Chapter 29. Jeremiah 28–29 pits false prophets against God’s prophet. Both false prophets and the true prophet — Jeremiah — claimed to proclaim the true message of God.

The false prophet Hananiah falsely prophesied that God would restore the items the Babylonians took from the temple and shipped to Babylon. Jeremiah said, “Amen!” and then emphasized that numerous prophets had predicted “war, disaster and plague.”

Jeremiah set forth the nature of a true prophet — a true prophet’s prophecy comes true.

Thrive (4–7)

Jeremiah sent a letter to the leaders and people deported to Babylon. In essence, Jeremiah commanded the deportees to live a normal life in a foreign land. Build houses. Plant gardens. Find wives. Have children.

In words that seemed unpatriotic, God commanded His exiled people to seek the well-being of the city of Babylon for their own good rather than being subversive. The Hebrew word translated “well-being” and “thrives” is the Hebrew term “shalom” —  translated as “peace or well-being.”

Most importantly, God commanded His people to pray on behalf of the city to which they had been deported. While the origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known, many biblical scholars affirm that the synagogue, used for worship, education and community fellowship,  most likely arose during the time of the Babylonian Captivity.

Ignore (8–9)

God, the Lord of armies, commanded the defeated and subjected people of God to ignore the false prophets, diviners and dreamers who misled the people by proclaiming a false message of hope.

God established the criteria by which to judge if an individual is a true prophet of God. “When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is the message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously” (Deut. 18:22).

The message of the false prophets and spiritual leaders was deceptive. When the deceptive nature of their so-called prophecies became evident, the spiritual impact on God’s people would further add to the people’s spiritual depression.

God emphatically reminds His people in a two-fold manner. First, some so-called prophets prophesy falsely to God’s people in God’s name. Second, God states that He did not send these messengers of false hope. “I have not sent them. This is the Lord’s declaration.”

Hope (10–14)

God provided hope to the Jewish exiles by reminding them that the Babylonian exile would not last forever. The exile would last 70 years. God promised a trio of blessings: God will attend (take care) of you (plural); God will restore the people to the land of Judah; and God will hear the prayers of His people.

Jeremiah 29:11 may be one of the most misused passages in the Bible. Rather than being a promise to an individual believer, the statement is a promise to God’s people (plural).

God’s plans include well-being (literally “shalom”), a future and a hope. Moreover, people who seek God with all their hearts will find God. God wants to be found by people.

The ultimate shalom, future and hope is to experience restoration with God.


By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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