Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, November 9, 2018

“I Have Made Thee This Day … an Iron Pillar”




Scripture references have been highlighted in red and are hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Please click to read!    Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.

The object above is a metal bar.  It is thick and hard and strong.  Just by looking at it do you think you could break it in two with your bare hands? No you could not because it is most likely unbreakable.  But If this object represented a person’s characteristics, what would it suggest about him or her?  Strong, tough, solid, dependable, unshakeable, unbreakable...

In Jeremiah 1:17–19. we read:  17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.  

19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.

These verses are about the prophet Jeremiah.  What phrases does the Lord use in verse 18 to describe him?  Defenced city, iron pillar, brazen walls.  

What do these phrases suggest about the kind of person Jeremiah was? He is like the metal bar, he is unbreakable.  

How would you feel if these words were used to describe you as you set out to fulfill a calling or assignment from the Lord?


It was quite different for Jeremiah in his calling than it is for us. Kings, princes, priests, and all the people of the land opposed him in his mission, but he valiantly did as the Lord commanded. Jeremiah was an “iron pillar” who had great strength in times of adversity and did not bend or break. He has a great deal to teach us on how to magnify and fulfil our callings even when they are hard, and how to endure well as we fight the trials and tragedies of life thus we begin our study of his book in the Old Testament. 

Who Was Jeremiah

The Old Testament tells more about Jeremiah than of any other prophet. According to the superscription (1:1) of his book, Jeremiah was a son of Hilkiah, "of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin." Most authorities assume that he was a descendant of Abiathar, David's priest, whom Solomon banished to the relatively insignificant little town. When Joshua had entered Canaan, he gave to the children of Aaron, the Priest, a number of cities as an inheritance and Anathoth was one of them. (See Josh. 21:13-19) It is quite probable, therefore, that Hilkiah's priestly ancestors had lived in the town for generations. Abiathar was a descendant of Eli; Jeremiah may therefore have descended from a distinguished family of priests. (See 1 Kings 2:26, 27) Anathoth was located within the confines of the territory of Benjamin. For that reason Jeremiah's forbears must have been identified with the kingdom of Israel and not with Judah, as was the prophet. It will be remembered that many years before Jeremiah's time Israel had been taken captive by the Assyrians. After 723 B.C., therefore, Jeremiah's family must have concerned itself more and more with the fortunes of the kingdom of Judah.

The superscription of the Book of Jeremiah further tells us that the prophet began his ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign, which would be about 626 B. C. Since Jeremiah was very young when called to the ministry (see Jer. 1:6, 7), we may assume that he was born about the year 645 B. C. or perhaps even a little later.  (Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry)


The Life of Jeremiah
The days of Jeremiah were among the most difficult and momentous in all Jewish history. How stirring the times were in which the prophet lived— how sad—;is shown by the fact that the Lord commanded him not to marry.  Jeremiah's life was, accordingly, to be filled with grief and sorrow. His suffering was to be even more poignant because his own brethren and kinsmen in Anathoth opposed him.  All of this, in addition to the rejection of his message by his countrymen, was to fill the cup of bitterness full to overflowing. Few men except the Savior Himself have experienced such abject sorrow or have felt the weight of their nation's sin as he did. Because of the severity of Jeremiah's prophecies, the men of Anathoth (his native town) attempted to take his life (11:18-23); for that reason the prophet settled in Jerusalem. When he predicted the temple's destruction and the city of Jerusalem with it for the sins of the people (cf. e.g., chs. 7-10), the wrath of the priests and false prophets was aroused, and he was placed in the stocks. (20:1-6) Later he was seized by false priests, prophets, and their retainers and threatened with death. (26:1-9) Only the intervention of certain other officials saved him. (26:16-19)

Jeremiah was a very sensitive and lovable person. He was a sincere and ardent patriot, who loved his nation so much that it wrung his soul to see its destruction on the way. So great was his love that at times he seemed blind to the higher claims of justice and righteousness, and the Lord found it necessary to rebuke him.  Jeremiah's timidity was such that one wonders at his rugged powers of endurance. Through much of his ministry he stood almost alone; he had relatively few followers to encourage him and spur him on to greater efforts.  The very human qualities displayed by Jeremiah make us love him, though at times we wonder how he dared speak as he did. Gentle and patient as he was, occasionally the machinations of his enemies caused him to break out in a very storm of fury. (18:21) Here, as if that were not enough, his wrath at times came up against the Lord because of the persecution he received.  (Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry)

Ministry of Jeremiah
We know that the prophet preached during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah, namely, Josiah, Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, and for a considerable time into the Captivity, perhaps until about 575 B. C. Therefore, his ministry probably extended over a period of fifty years, and the prophet must have died at about seventy years of age.

With the exception of Josiah, all of the kings of Judah during Jeremiah's ministry were unworthy men under whom the country suffered severely. Even during the reign of an earlier king, the wicked Manasseh, the Baal cult was restored among the Jews, and there was introduced the worship of the heavenly planets in accordance with the dictates of the Assyro-Babylonian religion. Jeremiah therefore found idolatry, hill-worship, and heathen religious practices rampant among his people. Heathen idols stood in the temple (32:34), children were sacrificed to Baal-Moloch (7:31; 19:5; 32:35), and Baal was especially invoked as the usual heathen deity. The worship of the "queen of Heaven" ought also to be mentioned. (7:18; 44:19) The corruption of the nation's religious worship was, of course, accompanied by all manner of immorality and unrighteousness, against which the prophet had continually to testify. The poor were forgotten. Jeremiah was surrounded on all sides by almost total apostasy. But professional prophets there were aplenty. Says Dr. H. L. Willett

He was surrounded by plenty of prophets, but they were the smooth, easy-going, popular, professional preachers whose words awakened no conscience, and who assured the people that the nation was safe in the protecting care of God. This was a true message in Isaiah's day, but that time was long since past, and Jerusalem was destined for captivity. Thus Jeremiah was doomed to preach an unwelcome message, while the false prophets persuaded the people that he was unpatriotic, uninspired, and pessimistic. (14:13, 14) 1

Jeremiah seems not to have participated directly in the religious reforms of Josiah, which were inaugurated in the eighteenth year of his reign (621 B. C.), when the "book of the Law or covenant" was found in the temple by Hilkiah the high priest. (See 2 Kings 22:8-23:25) Nevertheless, the prophet did give commandments to the people that were in accordance with the general spirit of the king's reforms. (11:1-17) When Josiah was slain at the battle of Megiddo (608 B. C.), Jeremiah composed lamentations which were written down in honor of the king. (2 Chron. 35:25)

It is to be noticed that when Jehoiachin succeeded his father on the throne of Judah (usual chronology 597 B. C.), he was carried off to Babylon as a prisoner by Nebuchadrezzar, as had been predicted by Jeremiah. (2 Kings 24:8-17; Jer. 22:20-30) The Babylonians then appointed Zedekiah, Josiah's third son, to be king. In time, Zedekiah refused to pay tribute to Babylon, and sought to make an alliance with Egypt. (Ezek. 17:11-16; 2 Chron. 36:11-13) Jeremiah pleaded with Zedekiah and his people to keep the covenants made with Babylonia. (27:12-22) But the prophet's advice was disregarded, and about 593 B. C. (Book of Mormon chronology) the Babylonians, with Nebuchadrezzar at their head, came with a large army and besieged Jerusalem. To be sure, the Egyptian army came out to break up the siege, but the Lord assured Jeremiah that it would return to its own land and the Babylonians would proceed to destroy the Jewish capital. (37:5-8) The prophet attempted at this time to go to the land of Benjamin, but was detained, beaten, and cast into prison. (37:12-15) At his request, Zedekiah gave command that Jeremiah's prison quarters be changed from the house of Jonathan the scribe to the "court of the guard." (37:20, 21) Jeremiah continued to warn the Jews that resistance to the Babylonians was futile. As a result he was cast into a miry pit. (38:1-6) From this pit he was eventually rescued by Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian officer, with the permission of the king. (38:7-13)


As had been predicted by Jeremiah, Jerusalem was sacked and burned by the Babylonians after a two-year siege. (590 B. C.) Zedekiah's sons were put to death before his very eyes, and he was blinded and carried to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:7; Jer. 39:6, 7) Out of respect for Jeremiah and the advice given by him to King Zedekiah, the prophet was restored to freedom and given the choice either of going to Babylon with a good position or of remaining with the poorer classes of his own people who were left behind. (38:11-14; 40:1-6) He elected, as the Scripture shows, to remain with Gedaliah, one of his faithful followers and new governor of the land. In due time, the Jews murdered Gedaliah and fled into Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to come with them. (41:1-3; 43:4-7) According to ancient tradition (Tertullian, St. Jerome, Pseudo-Epiphanius, Roman Martyrology), Jeremiah was stoned to death by the Jews because he threatened them with the coming judgments of God. Rabbinical tradition has it (Seder Olam Rabba, 26) that after Nebuchadrezzar had conquered Egypt in 568 B.C., he brought Jeremiah and Baruch the scribe back to Babylonia. However, the Jewish historian Josephus gives an account to the effect that they were led back at a much earlier time. (Antiq., X, 9, 7)  (Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry)

It was Jeremiah’s privilege (or burden) to predict and then live through the fall of Judah to Babylon. One of the first things the Lord told Jeremiah was, “I will hasten my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12). Jeremiah, like Mormon, was called to labor among a people for whom there was no hope because they refused to repent, and “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon 2:15). Mormon, after witnessing the destruction of the Nephite nation, cried out for his people (see Mormon 6:17–19). Here was a righteous man, one of the best, lamenting over his people who were so blind, so foolish, so spiritually dead. Jeremiah, too, mourned his people’s wickedness. You may think of Jeremiah as a harsh man as you read his scorching denunciations of the Jewish people and the lives they were living, but he was not. His motivation, like Mormon’s, was love.

A prophet does not select where and when he serves. God chooses when and to whom a prophet is sent. One may be an Enoch and build Zion, or a David O. McKay and preside over the Church in times of peace and prosperity. Another may be a Mormon or a Jeremiah and try in vain to save a rebellious and backsliding people. Each has his calling. Each has his time. Each has his lesson for you to learn. Look for Jeremiah’s lesson as you study this great prophet. (Old Testament Student Manual)

The Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah was a great poet. He knew the human heart to its depths, and possessed a power of remarkably terse and vivid expression. (See 4:23-25; 9:21, 22, as examples of his poetry.)Characteristics Of The Book Of Jeremiah.—;The Book of Jeremiah is rather complex and involved in structure, as is shown by the fact that it is much differently divided by commentators. Perhaps the reasons for this fact may be explained thus:
In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (604 B. C.), the Lord commanded Jeremiah to write down all of the words previously given him, in the hope that Judah would repent of her evil. Jeremiah called his scribe, Baruch, and dictated all of the words of the Lord. These were written upon one roll. We need not suppose that some of Jeremiah's utterances had not been written down before; the chances are that they were. But there is no assurance that the order of the prophecies as written down by Baruch was the same as before. Furthermore, when Baruch, at Jeremiah's solicitation, read the prophecies to the people of Jerusalem, the king heard of them and insisted on a reading. After three or four columns had been read to him, he callously took a penknife, cut the manuscript in pieces, and committed it to the flames. Jeremiah then re-dictated the words of the Lord and "added besides unto them many like words." (See Chap. 36.) How did these prophecies reach the form in which we now have them? The book seems to indicate that if the prophecies were originally written in chronological order, that order has been disturbed. It certainly has no clear systematic arrangement. There are many knotty problems concerning the text of Jeremiah that we should like to see cleared up. Apparently Jeremiah's prophecies were considerably worked over by later scribes. In the Greek translation (Septuagint) of Jeremiah there are approximately 2700 fewer words than in our Hebrew text, a clear indication of editorial revision.  (Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry)


1. Jeremiah is called of God to be a prophet  Jeremiah 1:4–10
In Jeremiah Chapter 1 we find that Jeremiah was foreordained to be a prophet unto the nations. He is called as a mortal to declare the word of the Lord.  The account of Jeremiah's call is especially interesting because it involves a doctrinal principle not mentioned in the call of any other prophet. The Lord said to the youth:  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, And before thou camest forth out of the womb, I set you apart; A prophet to the nations I appointed thee. (1:5)

This passage points to the fact that God knew Jeremiah before he came to this earth in the flesh. Even as the Gospel of John (1:1, 2) indicates that the Christ was in the presence of God before His sojourn in mortality, so the scripture quoted above implies that the intelligent spirit of Jeremiah was in God's favor before his earthly advent. In fact, the gospel teaches that the spirits of all men were known to God before the foundation of this world. (Moses 4:1-4; Abraham 3:22-28) Not only did God know Jeremiah before he was born, but He also set him apart or appointed him to be a prophet in mortality. This fact is in harmony with the Prophet Joseph Smith's statement concerning the appointment of men to the ministry in this life: Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. 
It is obvious that God does not leave His work to chance. He sees the qualifications of His servants in advance and calls them to the labors they can perform best.  (Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry)

Jeremiah's call is recorded in  Jeremiah 1:4–10:
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 ¶ But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

What does Jeremiah’s call teach us about the doctrine of foreordination?  5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Elder Orson F. Whitney: "A prophet's name, place of birth, and the character of his everyday calling, are matters of little moment compared with other things pertaining to him. What of his state and standing before he came on earth? This is a far more important consideration. God's prophets are chosen before they are born, and are sent into the world as He needs them. Their aims are high and holy. They desire the welfare and happiness of the race. Yet almost invariably their motives are misunderstood, and they and their followers are opposed and persecuted." (Saturday Night Thoughts, p14)

How do you think it helped Jeremiah to know that in the premortal existence he had been foreordained to be a prophet?  It gave him strength, courage, and a true belief that made him unshakeable.  It also I think makes one WANT to serve, and do as the Lord has commands.  


What did the Lord do when Jeremiah felt inadequate to fulfill his calling? Jeremiah 1:6–10.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
How have you been reassured by the Lord when you have felt inadequate?   Every time, which is most of the time, that I have felt terribly inadequate in this calling the Lord impresses the members of the Sunday School Class that I teach to speak to me with words of praise and encouragement.  It is very humbling because I know it is not me but him who works through me and allows me such a great gift as to bring us all together that we may all gather that which we need.  He has reassured me not only in their words but in certain thoughts that come into my mind, when I am in doubt; or a scripture that I will read when studying the lesson.  He reassures me continually that he has asked me to do this and he will help me in all ways.  

2. Many people oppose Jeremiah and try to prevent him from fulfilling his mission  

In his calling Jeremiah preached to the people in an effort to turn them from idolatry and immorality. Jeremiah's whole ministry was an indictment of Judah for her sins and shows the influence of the prophet Hosea in comparing Judah to a harlotrous wife. There is no need to further harrow up our souls with the sins of Judah pointed out by Jeremiah. Apparently human beings couldn't commit much worse sins than those indicated by him. In as forceful terms as he could, the prophet indicted Judah throughout his ministry. Judah had the greatest of vices and the most trivial religious practices. But the central requirements of God, love, mercy, and kindness seemed not to have touched the lives of the most of her people. Thus, the opposition he faced in his ministry was enormous and some even refer to him as Job.  

Jeremiah 20:1–6. To begin his trials displeased with Jeremiah’s prophecies, Pashur, the chief governor of the temple, had Jeremiah beaten and put in the stocks. Jeremiah prophesied that Pashur, his family, and his friends would be taken captive by the Babylonians and would die in Babylon.

1 Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.
2 Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.
3 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magor-missabib.
4 For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.



Jeremiah 26:7–15. Most of the people in the land, including the priests, opposed Jeremiah and his message (26:7–11). However, Jeremiah courageously delivered the message the Lord had commanded him to give (26:12–15). 
7 So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord.
8 ¶ Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.
9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.
10 ¶ When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’s house.
11 Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.
12 ¶ Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.

Jeremiah was even opposed and hated by his neighbors and relatives Jeremiah 11:19–21; 12:6; remember that Jeremiah was from the city of Anathoth
19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.


20 But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.21 Therefore thus saith the Lord of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand:
6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

Jeremiah 36:1–6, 20–32. The words of Jeremiah’s prophecies were written down and read to the people (36:1–6). The king burned these words, and the Lord commanded Jeremiah to record them again (36:20–32). 

1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.
3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.
5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the Lord:
6 Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the Lord’s house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.

20 And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.
21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
25 Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.
26 But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the Lord hid them.
27 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,
28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
30 Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.
32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.
Jeremiah 37:12–15; 38:4–13. As well, Jeremiah was accused unjustly and put into prison (37:12–15). He was later cast into a dungeon, where he sank into the mire (38:4–6). By order of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah was released from the dungeon and put back in prison (38:7–13).

12 Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people.
13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.
14 Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.
15 Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.
4 Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
5 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.
6 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
7 Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin;
8 Ebed-melech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying,
9 My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.
10 Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.
11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.
12 And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.
13 So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
What does Jeremiah 20:14–18 reveal about how Jeremiah felt as he endured such overwhelming opposition?
14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
15 Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad.
16 And let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide;
17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
What can we learn from this?  What can we learn from Jeremiah to help us when we experience adversity?  Jeremiah continued to obey the Lord and fulfill his calling even when he was persecuted and discouraged; see Jeremiah 26:12–15.


12 Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Going back to Jeremiah 2:13, what two evils did the Lord say his people had committed? They had forsaken him, the fountain of living waters. And they had made for themselves broken cisterns that could not hold the Lord’s living water, meaning they had sought fulfillment and security in worldly things.

13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.


Why would people with these characteristics have difficulty accepting the words of Jeremiah?

Why would they be unable to respond to adversity as Jeremiah did

How do we sometimes create “broken cisterns” that cannot hold the Savior’s living water?

Elder Marion D. Hanks said: “Material objectives consume too much of our attention. The struggle for what we need or for more than we need exhausts our time and energy. We pursue pleasure or entertainment, or become overinvolved in associations or civic matters. Of course, people need recreation, need to be achieving, need to contribute; but if these come at the cost of friendship with Christ, the price is much too high. 

“‘For my people have committed two evils,’ said the Lord to Israel; ‘they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.’ (Jer. 2:13.)

“The substitutions we fashion to take the place of God in our lives truly hold no water. To the measure we thus refuse the ‘living water,’ we miss the joy we could have”
(Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 127; or Ensign, July 1972, 105).

Jeremiah’s prophecies that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem were fulfilled, as recorded in Jeremiah 39–40. Jeremiah had been in prison during the siege, but afterward the Babylonians freed him and allowed him and a remnant of the Jews to remain in the land of Judah.  Johanan, the leader of those who remained, asked Jeremiah to seek the Lord’s will for them and promised to obey it (Jeremiah 42:1–6). 

1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,
2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
3 That the Lord thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the Lord your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the Lord shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to us.
6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.
Through Jeremiah the Lord told the people to stay in the land of Judah and promised to bless them if they would do so (Jeremiah 42:9–22). 
9 And said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;
10 If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
12 And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
13 But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the Lord your God,
14 Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
15 And now therefore hear the word of the Lord, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
17 So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.
18 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.
19 The Lord hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
20 For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the Lord your God, saying, Pray for us unto the Lord our God; and according unto all that the Lord our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.
21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
22 Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.
However, giving into the world; Johanan led the people into Egypt, where most of them continued in their wickedness (Jeremiah 43–44).

3. Jeremiah is strengthened in adversity by his love for the word of God
In our life here on earth, we have two choices during adversity.  We can cave in, and give way to Satan or the world; or we can hold fast to Christ and hope.  These words may seem to simple or unbelievable, especially during the midst of affliction.  But knowing much of truly deep affliction first hand, I can say truly, that holding on to Christ is the choice that will save you, from the depths of hell that you may feel during your travail.   During my travail, which because of its nature of grief continues on daily in some respect; I have found that the word of God helps me to be strong and carry on.  Jeremiah in his most tremendous trial and pain, has taught us that this is surely true.

In Jeremiah 1:9, we read: Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

What did the Lord put in Jeremiah’s mouth?  Direction, guidance, instruction, the gospel...direct from God himself.  

Of these words received by the prophet, Jeremiah 15:16 says:  Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.

What did Jeremiah do with the words of the Lord?  He ate them, which is poetic language meaning that the word of God became part of him.

How did Jeremiah feel about the words of the Lord?  He was full of joy and rejoicing.  

How can we “eat” the words of the Lord as Jeremiah did?  By studying the scriptures and the counsel of latter-day prophets.  The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi said to “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3). 

How can feasting on the words of the Lord strengthen us?  Not only will we learn of the will of God and the history, but by feasting on the words of the Lord he can speak to us, personally, about our own situations.  He can teach us and guide us, and we can hear his voice call our name leading us through troubled waters as well as general learning.  Though feasting is not merely reading, it is reading with a purpose and should be done so prayerfully.  

In Jeremiah 20:9, how did Jeremiah describe the word of the Lord inside him? 
9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

What do you think it means to have the word of the Lord be a burning fire in your bones? He knew God, he literally heard God speak to him and give him instruction to preach, it was real, he knew it was real and God knew; it was real, it filled his physical and spiritual body.  

The great stress the prophetic calling caused Jeremiah is particularly discernible in Jeremiah 20:7–8, 14–18. The Hebrew word translated in verse 7 as “deceived” means literally “enticed” or “persuaded.” The power that persuaded the prophet to continue to preach God’s word at such great personal cost was “as a burning fire shut up in [his] bones” (v. 9). It could not be stayed. (Old Testament Student Manual) 

Why do you think Jeremiah could not hold back from teaching the word of the Lord?  There was no denying the reality of what had taken place with receiving the word of God he HAD to do as instructed.  He would obey the will of the Lord because it burned as a fire within him.  Because he knew it was true and because he had been called as a prophet by God himself to do just that.  


4. Jeremiah 18:6 “Clay … in the potter’s hand”
Review the account of Jeremiah’s visit to the potter, recorded in Jeremiah 18:1–4

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
What did the Lord teach his people through Jeremiah’s experience?  Jeremiah 18:5–10

5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.

6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

7 O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.

9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
The Lord showed them that if they would repent, he would mold them into something better, just as the potter had reshaped the marred vessel. He also reminded them that he had the power to destroy them if they did not repent.
How does this comparison apply to us today? 
How can we become better clay in the Lord’s hands?  By being humble, by obeying, repenting, trusting the Lord, and seeking his will.  Through many means, the Lord has shaped and prepared people to fulfill his purposes. 
What happens when we resist being molded by the Lord?  President Heber C. Kimball provided the following insights into the comparison in Jeremiah 18:1–10"There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been moulded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the shape the potter has given them, but straightaway put themselves into a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understanding what God designs, and they destroy themselves by the power of their own agency. [These people] have to go through a great many modellings and shapes, then … have to be glazed and burned; and even in the burning, some vessels crack” (Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer [1981], 270).
All [who] are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to His commands, are vessels of honor, and God will receive them” (History of the Church, 4:478)
The Doctrine of the Potter and the Clay. Many times while in Jerusalem the writer visited a certain potter and watched him make vessels of clay. The workman was very skillful and adroit in turning out vessels of many shapes and sizes. All usually went well until the potter got hold of a batch of clay that wouldn't work as it should. The only recourse, then, was to take the clay off the wheel and rework it until it assumed the proper consistency. Then it could be used again in fashioning the desired product.

The Lord had Jeremiah view a potter at work and turned the incident into a remarkable lesson:

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are ye in My hand, O house of Israel. At one instant I may speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; but if that nation turn from their evil, because of which I have spoken against it, I repent of the evil that I thought to do unto it. And at one instant I may speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; but if it do evil in My sight, that it hearkeneth not to My voice, then I repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit it.

In addition to the more obvious lessons of this scripture, the reader should note the emphasis laid on man's freedom. The failure of clay to work properly at times as applied in the parable implies, of course, the fact that man has his free agency. 
(Spirit of the Old Testament Sidney B Sperry)

5. Jeremiah preached at the same time as the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi 

The prophet Jeremiah was teaching and warning the people of Judah at the time Lehi left Jerusalem. Both Jeremiah and Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Where was Jeremiah when Lehi and his family left Jerusalem?  Jeremiah 37:15–16; 1 Nephi 7:14.

15 Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.

16 When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained 
there many days;
14 For behold, the Spirit of the Lord ceaseth soon to strive with them; for behold, they have rejected the prophets, and Jeremiah have they cast into prison. And they have sought to take away the life of my father, insomuch that they have driven him out of the land.
Jeremiah spent much time counseling with Zedekiah, the king of Judah, but Zedekiah refused to obey the words of the Lord delivered by Jeremiah.

When King Jehoiachin rebelled against Babylon, he was deposed and his uncle, Zedekiah, was placed on the throne. By this time it should have been obvious that Jeremiah’s prophecies were coming to pass. Twice Nebuchadnezzar had come, and twice he had humbled Judah. But Zedekiah was no wiser than his brother, Jehoiakim, and his nephew, Jehoiachin. He too began to look for ways to break the Babylonian yoke. Ignoring the repeated warnings of Jeremiah, he rebelled, and once again the Babylonians came against Jerusalem. It was in this setting that the events of these chapters took place. Jerusalem was under siege, and Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender was not welcome. He was viewed as a traitor and a subversive. At this point an army of the pharaoh moved north to meet Nebuchadnezzar’s forces (see Jeremiah 37:5). Nebuchadnezzar temporarily pulled away from Jerusalem to meet the threat from the south. The hopes of the Jews soared, but again Jeremiah dashed them to pieces. He prophesied that the Egyptian army would return to Egypt (see v. 7) and that the siege would be reimposed. So helpless would Judah be, according to Jeremiah, that even if the entire Chaldean army were wounded in the battle with Egypt, they would still succeed in destroying Jerusalem (see vv. 8–10). During the time that the siege was lifted, Jeremiah decided to return to the land of Benjamin, probably to visit his hometown. His enemies seized this opportunity to make their move. Accusing him of fleeing to join the Chaldeans, the Jewish leaders had Jeremiah arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison (see vv. 11–15). The weak, vacillating character of King Zedekiah manifested itself. He called Jeremiah to him secretly, asking if there was any word from the Lord concerning Jerusalem’s fate (see vv. 16–17). Yet when the other leaders demanded Jeremiah’s death for preaching surrender (see Jeremiah 38:1–4), Zedekiah responded weakly, “Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you” (v. 5). But when Jeremiah’s friends pleaded for his life, Zedekiah relented and had him secretly delivered out of the prison (see vv. 7–13).

Jeremiah’s sarcastic question to Zedekiah is recorded in Jeremiah 37:19. The false prophets had promised that the Babylonians would not come against Jerusalem and the captives already taken would be returned. At that time Jeremiah cited the words of Moses for determining the true from the false prophets. Now, with the Babylonians surrounding the city, Jeremiah asked where all those other prophets were. Jeremiah’s word had been proven true, and he was in prison. Their word had been proven false, and where were they?

Chapter 39 of Jeremiah details the fall of Jerusalem and the tragic end of Zedekiah and his family. Because Jeremiah had foretold Babylon’s eventual success, he w
as released by the Chaldeans and allowed to remain in Jerusalem as a free person (see vv. 11–14).  (Old Testament Student Manual)
What happened to Zedekiah as a result of his disobedience? Jeremiah 39:4–7
4 And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.

5 But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

6 Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah.
7 Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.
From the Book of Mormon we know that one of the sons of Zedekiah was not slain by the Babylonians. What was his name? Helaman 8:20–21.

20 And behold, also Zenock, and also Ezias, and also Isaiah, and Jeremiah, (Jeremiah being that same prophet who testified of the destruction of Jerusalem) and now we know that Jerusalem was destroyed according to the words of Jeremiah. O then why not the Son of God come, according to his prophecy?

21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem? But behold, this is not all—
Where did he go?  Omni 1:15.


15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.
Conclusion
In the study of this book, I was brought to tears many times.  For I can in some part feel as Jeremiah did with the adversity I have personally had, yet I can no way compare to what he experienced.  However his example in the need the need to be faithful in times of adversity is paramount in our journeys.  

I hope that each one of us will and continue to search and ponder the words of the Lord until these words become fire in our bones, strengthening us as they do the Lord’s work.  Let us become, like Jeremiah, an iron pillar for the Lord. For then in whatever our circumstances we will have hope and joy and the great blessing of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.  

Resources
Old Testament Student Manual
Conference Reports
Ensign
Book of Mormon
Voice of Israel's Prophets Sidney B Sperry
Saturday Night Thoughts 
Spirit of the Old Testament Sidney B Sperry








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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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