Old Testament Lesson 43 (Jeremiah 30-33; 36; Lament. 1; 3)
Evil vs. Righteous Pastors
● The prophet Jeremiah lived through one of the most troubled periods of history. He witnessed the Fall of a great empire (Assyria) and the rising of another (Babylon). In the midst of this turmoil, the kingdom of Judah was ruled by five kings, four of them deplorable.
● Jeremiah declared God’s message for forty years, warning of coming disaster and appealing in vain to the nation to turn back to God.
● Judah became increasingly insensitive to spiritual things during Jeremiah’s time.
● Jeremiah 23:1–2 The pastors (religious leaders) of Judah had not fed and protected the sheep (Israel), but had scattered them and driven them away.
● Jeremiah 23:11–14 Both the prophets and the priests were profane.
— They prophesied in the name of Baal and led the people into error.
— They were as evil as Sodom and Gomorrah in God’s sight.
● Jeremiah 23:16, 31 They spoke their own words, not those of the Lord.
● Jeremiah 23:17 They told the wicked they would have peace and that they were not evil.
● Jeremiah 23:21 They called themselves to the ministry and prophesied without revelation.
Jeremiah Faces Much Opposition
● Jeremiah 11:21–23 The people of Anathoth (his hometown) sought to destroy him.
● Jeremiah 12:6 Even Jeremiah’s family dealt treacherously with him.
● Jeremiah 20:1–2 Wicked priests opposed Jeremiah.
● Jeremiah 26:8–9 Mobs took Jeremiah and brought accusations against him.
● Jeremiah 36:26 The king sought to take Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch.
Jeremiah’s Symbolic Methods
● Jeremiah 13:1–11 The Lord commanded Jeremiah to put a linen girdle on his loins and journey to the Euphrates, a distance of 300–400 miles, and hide it in a hole in a rock.
— After many days the Lord then told him to go and retrieve his girdle. When he dug it up “the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing” (v. 7). The Lord explained: “After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem” (v. 9).
● Jeremiah 16:3–4 He predicted ugly scenes of suffering and death.
● Jeremiah 17:19–27 He stood in the main gate and promised them escape if they would obey.
● Jeremiah 18:1–8 He went to the pottery factory where marred vessels were rebuilt and used it as a symbol of how the Lord would perfect Judah if she would repent.
● Jeremiah 19:1–13 He went down to the Valley of Hinnom where children were burned alive as a sacrifice to Moloch, and smashed an earthen bottle. Because of this great sin, he predicted ugly scenes of suffering for Judah:
— v. 6 A great slaughter.
— v. 7 Destruction by the sword, and their carcasses to be carrion.
— v. 8 The city will become desolate.
— v. 9 The besieged in the city will eat the flesh of their children.
JEREMIAH IS ATTACKED AND IMPRISONED
Jeremiah’s Suffering for the Lord’s Sake
● Jeremiah 26 Jeremiah nearly loses his life.
— vv. 1–2 The Lord commands Jeremiah to call Judah to repentance publicly.
— vv. 8–11 The people reacted with violence, accusing him of treason.
— vv. 12–14 Jeremiah’s response was brave—do with me what you will, but repent.
● Jeremiah 19:14–15 He stood in the court of the temple, predicting destruction.
● Jeremiah 20:1–6 Jeremiah was then abused by Pashur, overseer of the temple
— Pashur had Jeremiah beaten and placed in stocks.
— Jeremiah used it as a further opportunity to teach.
— Jeremiah gave Pashur a new name. Pashur, in Hebrew, means “free.” Magormissabib means “fear on every side.”
● Jeremiah 20:7–9 The great stress of Jeremiah’s calling.
— v. 7 “Deceived” means literally “enticed” or “persuaded.”
— v. 9 The power that helped the prophet to continue at such great personal cost was “as a burning fire shut up in [his] bones”
● Jeremiah 20:14–18 Jeremiah’s despair over the lonely ministry he was given.
— Note: Some scholars believe these verses originally were meant to precede verses 7–13 because the tenor of the lament changes in verses 11–13, in which Jeremiah began to praise the Lord.
● In the midst of all this wickedness, the Lord showed Jeremiah a vision of the future that put things into a perspective of hope. These visions and prophecies by Jeremiah have for centuries provided hope to Israel. They also hold a very important place in the latter-days and the work of restoration.
CHRIST WILL RULE OVER ISRAEL
The “Branch” Will Be King
● Jeremiah 23:5–6 The “righteous Branch” will be king over Israel.
— He will be a king who will reign and prosper.
— He will execute judgment and justice.
— In his day, Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell safely.
— v. 6 He will be called “the Lord our Righteousness.”
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Christ is the Son of David, the Seed of David. the inheritor, through Mary his mother, of the blood of the great king. He is also called the Stem of Jesse and the Branch, meaning Branch of David. Messianic prophecies under these headings deal with the power and dominion he shall wield as he sits on David’s throne, and have reference almost exclusively to his second sojourn on planet earth . . . That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear . . . He is also called David. . . . he is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor.”
— Isaiah told us who the Stem (Branch) is (Isaiah 11:1).
— “David” (Christ) will be their king (Jeremiah 30:8–11).
— Jerusalem will be “the throne of the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:17–18).
— John identified Him as the “Lamb of God” (Revelation 17:14).
— He is the “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).
Priesthood Leaders and Missionaries
● Jeremiah 23:3–4 The “shepherds . . . which shall feed them” are righteous priesthood leaders who, unlike the priests and prophets of Jeremiah’s time, lead their people to do good and obey the Lord.
● Jeremiah 16:14–16; 23:7–8 Missionaries (“hunters” and “fishers”) will perform a great gathering of Israel.
— Elder LeGrand Richards said concerning these verses:
“Just contemplate that statement (v. 16. [14–15]) for a few moments. Think how the Jews and the Christians all through these past centuries have praised the Lord for his great hand of deliverance under the hands of Moses when he led Israel out of captivity, and yet here comes Jeremiah with this word of the holy prophet, telling us that in the latter days they shall no more remember that, but how God has gathered scattered Israel from the lands whither he had driven them.
“And Jeremiah saw the day when the Lord would do this very thing when he would call for many fishers and many hunters, ‘and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.’ (Jer. 16:16). Where do you find those fishers and hunters that we read about in this great prophecy of Jeremiah? They are these 14,000 missionaries of this church, and those who have preceded them from the time that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the truth and sent the messengers out to share it with the world. Thus have they gone out, fishing and hunting, and gathering them from the hills and the mountains, and the holes in the rocks. I think that is more literal than some of us think!”
— Matthew 4:18–19 The Lord described the Apostles of his day as “fishers of men.”
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “The gathering of Israel consists of receiving the truth, gaining again a true knowledge of the Redeemer, and coming back into the true fold of the Good Shepherd. In the language of the Book of Mormon, it consists of being ‘restored to the true Church and fold of God,’ and then being ‘gathered’ and ‘established’ in various ‘lands of promise.’ (2 Nephi 9:2).”
— President Spencer W. Kimball said: “[The Lord] said through Nephi, ‘The house of Israel [sooner or later will] be scattered upon all the face of the earth.’ (1 Nephi 22:3). And now He says, ‘I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them.’ (Jeremiah 23:3). The gathering of Israel is now in progress. Hundreds of thousands of people have been baptized into the Church. Millions more will join the Church. And this is the way that we will gather Israel. The English people will gather in England. The Japanese people will gather in the Orient. The Brazilian people will gather in Brazil. So that important element of the world history is already being accomplished. It is to be done by missionary work. It is your responsibility to attend to this missionary work.”
● Jeremiah 23:7–8 The gathering of Israel from the four corners of the earth and the bringing of the ten tribes from the north will be a greater miracle than ancient Israel’s crossing the Red Sea on dry ground.
● Jeremiah 28:1-4 Zedekiah was a king who wanted prophets to tell him what he wanted to hear. Consequently, many false prophets
Jeremiah 37:19 promised that Jerusalem would not fall.
● Jeremiah 29:10–14; 50:17–20 The Lord speaks of an earlier gathering, after 70 years in Babylon.
— vv. 13–14 The Lord told the people of their captivity in Babylon and promised them they would return. With this scripture, we have an opportunity to witness the tender feelings of the Lord as he foresaw the descendants of these rebellious people seeking him out.
● Jeremiah 31:1–5 Jehovah will again be the God of all the tribes (families) of Israel.
● Jeremiah 31:6–7 Ephraim, as the firstborn with priesthood rights, will gather Israel.
— The “watchmen” are righteous latter-day prophets (v. 6; Ezekiel 3:16–21).
● Jeremiah 31:8–9; D&C 133:26–28 Israel will gather from the north country and from the coasts (ends) of the earth.
— Thither: They will be gathered “thither” and not “hither”—a place other than old Jerusalem where this prophecy was uttered by Jeremiah.
— Joseph was to be given a new land in the “utmost bound of the everlasting hills (Gen. 49:22–26; Deut. 33:13–17).”
— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Ephraim was blessed with the birthright in Israel, and in this dispensation he has been called to stand at the head to bless the other tribes of Israel. . . . It is essential in this dispensation that Ephraim stand in his place at the head, exercising the birthright in Israel which was given to him by direct revelation. Therefore, Ephraim must be gathered to prepare the way, through the gospel and the priesthood, for the rest of the tribes of Israel when the time comes for them to be gathered to Zion. The great majority of those who have come into the Church are Ephraimites. It is the exception to find one of any other tribe, unless it is of Manasseh.”
● Jeremiah 31:9 Israel will return with weeping—of both joy and sorrow for their past mistakes.
● Jeremiah 16:17–21 There will first be a time of punishment and testing for Israel, because of the sins of their “fathers.”
● Do children pay the price of their fathers’ mistakes?
— Jeremiah 31:27–30 A proverb about “the fathers’ sour grapes.”
— Exodus 20:5–6 Children may, in fact, suffer consequences of parental sins.
— D&C 68:25–28 Ultimately, however, the parents will pay the price of it.
● Jeremiah 31:10–14 “They shall not sorrow any more at all.” These verses picture the great joy and happiness that will accompany the return of Israel:
— v. 12 Abundance.
— v. 13 Rejoicing.
— vv. 15–16 The end of sorrow.
● Elder LeGrand Richards saw a parallel in the early history of the Church:
The Saints left Nauvoo with weeping and supplications, not because they wanted to.
— He saw the rivers of waters they walked by in a straight way as being the North Platte River, by which they traveled about six hundred miles.
— He says singing in the height of Zion refers to the Tabernacle Choir.
—v. 13 Their mourning being turned into joy refers to the Saints finding joy with one another in dancing and other activities as well as in testimony meetings.
— Elder LeGrand Richards said: “While the members of the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not paid for their services, and thousands of them have left their families for years at a time to do missionary work in the nations of the earth, paying their own expenses and without remuneration from the Church, yet, in their hearts, they feel they are better paid than any other religious leaders in the world, because of the joy and satisfaction the Lord plants in their hearts, which could not possibly be purchased with money. Thus He has satiated ‘the soul of the priests with fatness,’ and His people are satisfied with His goodness.”
● Jeremiah 31:15 Rachel weeping for her children. These words are embroidered in Hebrew on the covering of Rachel’s tomb, which is located between modern Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They are also quoted by Matthew [2:18] in describing the sorrow in Judah over the slaughter of the firstborn by Herod after the birth of Christ.
● Jeremiah 31:16–21 Ephraim will be restored it its “pleasant cities” again.
● Jeremiah 31:22 Restoration shall occur in a day when “a woman shall compass a man.” The Hebrew word translated ‘compass’ means to encompass with love and care, to surround lovingly and carefully. The woman, considered in Jeremiah’s day to be the weaker sex that needed help, will lovingly and solicitously surround the man, providing as well as receiving strength.
● Jeremiah 31:29–30 “In those days [the latter days]” the punishments of God will not be delayed unduly; they will come almost immediately.
● Jeremiah 31:31-34 The Lord promised to make a “new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”. They had broken the covenant he made with the children of Israel at the time of Moses.
— v. 34 Speaks of the individual responsibility of everyone to know the Lord “in that day” (compare vv. 31-32).
— The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will be in the Millennium when all will know the Lord. Knowledge of the true God is available throughout the world today through our missionary program, The availability of temples with their saving ordinances and covenants may be considered part of this.
● Jeremiah 32:23–26 Judah will also be restored in the latter days.
● Jeremiah 46:27–28 In the midst of prophesying the “full end of all the nations” (v. 27), Jeremiah promises the eventual gathering of Israel (Jacob).
A New and Everlasting Covenant
● Jeremiah 31:31–34 A “new” covenant will be restored.
— v. 31 The Lord promises to make a “new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people, high and low, rich and poor, male and female, ministers and people, professors of religion and non-professors, in order that they may enjoy the Holy Spirit of God to a fulness and escape the judgments of God, which are almost ready to burst upon the nations of the earth. Repent of all your sins, and be baptized in water for the remission of them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance of the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may receive the Holy Spirit of God; and this is according to the Holy Scriptures . . . and the only way that man can enter into the celestial kingdom. These are the requirements of the new covenant.”
— v. 34 All Israel, “from the least . . . unto the greatest,” will “know the Lord.”
— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The Lord has promised that the time shall come when every man shall be his own teacher, that is, he will know because of righteous living what to do. He will be so filled with the Spirit of the Lord that he will be guided and directed in doing right without the necessity of someone coming into his home to set it in order. Now is a good time for us to begin.”
— D&C 1:17–23 The restoration includes the re-establishment of God’s covenant with Israel.
— D&C 66:2; 39:11; 22:1–4; 132:4 The “new and everlasting covenant” embraces the whole gospel, including the covenants of baptism, priesthood, and eternal marriage, each of which is properly called a new and everlasting covenant.
— Jeremiah 31:35–37 Neither the ordinances nor the covenant will ever depart again from the earth.
— Jeremiah 32:36–42 The Lord’s part of the covenant—he will do his part “with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”
● Jeremiah 32:42–44 The Lord will cause their captivity to end, and he will keep his promises to Israel.
● Jeremiah 33:6–14 Happiness and joy will be restored to Jerusalem.
— vv. 6, 8 “I will cure them . . . I will cleanse them . . . I will pardon all their iniquities.”
— v. 12 Even the desolate land shall be restored to its former condition.
— v. 13 The cities that were once desolate will be full of people and flocks.
— v. 14 The Lord will perform all that he has promised unto Israel and Judah.
Jeremiah and Baruch Are Imprisoned
● Jeremiah 36 Jeremiah dictated his revelations to Baruch:
— Jeremiah was forced by events into hiding.
— vv. 1–3 The Lord commanded him to write down his revelations.
— v. 4 He dictated them to Baruch, his scribe.
— vv. 5–6 He sent Baruch out to proclaim them to the people.
— vv. 17–18 Some were impressed & asked where he got these words.
— vv. 23–25 They took them to the king. . . . who burned them.
● Jeremiah 36:27–32 The Lord commanded Jeremiah to re-dictate them.
— It is from that re-dictated scroll that we got the book of Jeremiah.
— Some of his words ended up on the plates of brass (1 Nephi 5:13) which contained “many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.”
● Jeremiah 38:4–6 Princes cast Jeremiah into a dungeon.
The Lord Again Comforts Jeremiah
● Jeremiah 45 This chapter is out of chronological sequence. It identifies itself as the words of the Lord delivered by Jeremiah to Baruch his scribe in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, after Baruch had completed writing, or rather rewriting, the words of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36).
— Baruch is often in the background of the book of Jeremiah, and in this short prophecy, we get our only poignant, personal glimpse of Baruch’s own sacrifice and suffering as he realized that Jeremiah’s words of doom to Israel would affect his own life. The Lord said that he could offer no immediate comfort or relief from the terrible things that were then happening.
1: The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 192–193.
2: In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 143; or Ensign, June 1971, 98–99.
3: “Come: Let Israel Build Zion,” Ensign, May 1977, 117.
4: In Conference Report, Sao Paulo Brazil Area conference, Feb.-Mar. 1975, 73.
5: Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:247, 252.
6: Israel! Do You Know? , 179–180; also 177–179.
7: History of the Church, 1:313–314.
8: Doctrines of Salvation, 1:319.