Week 2 – Reading someone else’s mail
I. What LEADS to the LETTER. (2 Kings 24)
A. The first WAVE of EXILE. (v. 1-3; 2 Kings 24:14)
B. Why US and why not THEM? (v.15-19; 2 Kings 24:17-20)
Have you ever gotten a letter with advice from a friend? Jeremiah sends a message to the Jews already in exile in Babylon. They must have lots of questions about how things are going back “home.” Jeremiah fills them in and says some things that challenge what they are hoping for.
1. Kid’s question: When have you received a letter you were excited to read? What was that like?
2. Have you ever wondered why others had it better than you? What situation motivated the question?
II. What the LETTER actually SAYS. (v.4-23)
A. GOD has DONE this. (v.4)
B. SETTLE in, live LIFE, seek PEACE. (v.5-7)
C. Be CONTENT in your CIRCUMSTANCE. (v.8-9)
D. God has the BIGGER DETAILS in hand. (v.10-14)
E. Be CAREFUL who you LISTEN to. (v.15-23)
The letter is very directive. As a prophet Jeremiah is used to conveying a message from Yahweh to the people and this letter is no exception. While the content of the letter may be unexpected and challenging, there is no question of what Jeremiah is telling them to do.
3. Put yourself in the shoes of the Israelites in Babylon. How would Jeremiah’s advice have made them feel? Why?
4. When have you believed something more because you wanted to believe it than because it was actually true? Why did that happen?
5. Does the context around Jeremiah 29:11-13 change your understanding of the way it is usually shared in Christian culture today?
III. YESTERDAY’S letter speaks to TODAY. (v.19-20; Rom. 15:4)
A. Beware CONCLUSIONS drawn from CIRCUMSTANCES. (v.4; Jn 20:13-16)
B. Avoid COMPARISON to the OTHERS. (v.15-16; Jn 21:22)
C. FOCUS on small FAITHFULNESS over TIME. (v.5-7; Lk 16:10; Jn 13:14-15)
D. ENTRUST God with the BIG PICTURE. (v.10-14; Gen. 50:20; Phil. 1:12; 2Cor. 4:18; Prov. 3:5-6)
E. CHOOSE your advisors WISELY. (v.15-23; Mt. 7:15-17)
Let me come right out and say it – The letter to them is also a letter to us. We live in an exile today as we wait for the return of Jesus. And God’s words through Jeremiah to the people 2500 years ago have a strong resonance with what God is saying to us today.
6. On a scale of 1 to 10, how quick are you to jump to conclusions on your interpretations of circumstances? Do you like that rating for yourself? How might you change that?
7. Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others, either positively or negatively? What might God be calling you to regarding that through this passage?
8. What are your equivalents today to the instructions given in Her. 29:5-7? How do you live out this in your own present “exile”?