And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me(Luke
As we have already seen, God's prophets
preached not only through words but also through object lessons. At
times the prophets had to live out the messages; it was another way to
get the point across.
Thus, Jeremiah again was called to live out the words he was
to deliver. First, he had to wear a wooden yoke. Thus saith the Lord
to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck(Jer.
27:2). That had to have been a burdensome task, even under
the best of circumstances; in this case, it became harder because a
false prophet challenged what Jeremiah said. This week we can get a
powerful look at truth and error contending for the hearts and minds of
the people. We will see, too, how a message of grace can also be a false
Jeremiah also was forbidden to enter into mourning when others
mourned and rejoicing when others rejoiced. In these cases, the point
was to help the people realize what was coming because of their sins,
and so to repent and obey, lessening the doleful consequence of their
Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath,
A Solitary Life
No question, Jeremiah's lot in life wasn't an easy one (he would be
the first to admit it too!). Things, though, were even harder than we
might have imagined.
Jeremiah 16:1-13. What was the Lord's message to Jeremiah here?
However harsh, in what ways would it have been a blessing to the
prophet? (Compare with
In contrast to Hosea, who was to marry a harlot in order to show just
how corrupt the relationship had become between the Lord and Israel due
to the nation's spiritual harlotry, Jeremiah was to refrain from
marriage and from having children altogether. This was something rather
rare and extreme for that time and culture. In Israel, starting a family
was very important for every young man. Besides the love and
companionship between spouses, it was also important to carry on the
family name. Why did God forbid Jeremiah from starting a family? So that
his own life would be an object lesson on how terrible that time would
be when families broke up and when the pain of separation became a heavy
burden on the survivors. Jeremiah's lack of family life was a constant
warning and lesson for his contemporaries.
Jeremiah's solitary lot extended into other areas as well. He was
forbidden to enter a house where there was mourning; this would
symbolize the people's unwillingness to respond to God's calls for
repentance and revival.
Along with times of mourning, he was not to join their festivals of
joy and celebration. This was to symbolize the coming time when the
Babylonians would bring an end to all of their joy and rejoicing.
In these ways, the human bonds that are forged, whether in mourning
or joy, would be denied Jeremiah. His life and the sorrows of his life
were to be object lessons. If only the nation would learn from them!
How should this account help us learn to
appreciate the human support that we enjoy getting from others, or that
we give to others? However important this support, how can we learn
that, ultimately, our best support comes only from the Lord?
Jeremiah 27:1-18. What is the message of the Lord to the people? Why
would this seem treasonous to many who heard it?
The yoke Jeremiah had to put on his body was an unmistakable sign of
the humiliation that the nation suffered; it's what we call a military
Deuteronomy 28:48 and
1 Kings 12:4, the idea of a yoke appears as an expression of
oppression.) Jeremiah had to experience physically what the Babylonian
invasion meant. The wooden yoke Jeremiah put on his arms and shoulders
was one and a half meters long and eight centimeters thick. The essence
of his message was that if a country revolted against Babylon, the Lord
would take it as if the country had revolted against Him, and the
rebellious would suffer as a result.
Though there is some ambiguity in the original texts, it seems that
Jeremiah did not have to make a yoke only for himself, but also for the
envoys of foreign countries who had come to Jerusalem and were plotting
against Nebuchadnezzar-despite the Lord's warnings not to. The natural
response would be to fight against a foreign invader, which is what they
wanted to do. No doubt, then, Jeremiah's words were not at all welcome.
Here again, as we find all through the Bible-Old and New
Testaments-the Lord as Creator is Sovereign over all the earth. Even
amid what appears to be chaos and catastrophe (invasion and dominion by
a pagan nation), the power and authority of God is revealed, and this
was, and is, to be a source of hope to all in the faithful remnant.
It's one thing to be under a yoke of bondage.
However, ask yourself: Have you placed someone else under an unfair
yoke, and if so, why not remove it now?
War of the Prophets
Bad news is bad news, and often we don't want to hear it, or we want
to rationalize it away. Such was the case here in Judah with Jeremiah
and the yoke that he bore, an unmistakable message of warning to the
people. The amazement of the assembled council of nations knew no
bounds when Jeremiah, carrying the yoke of subjection about his neck,
made known to them the will of God.-Ellen G. White,
Prophets and Kings, p. 444.
Jeremiah 28:1-9. Imagine you are a Judean standing there and
watching all this going on. Whom would you believe? Whom would you
want to believe? What reason would you have, if any, for believing
Hananiah rather than Jeremiah?
Jeremiah raised his voice in the name of God, and Hananiah spoke in
the name of God too. But who was speaking for God? They both couldn't
be! For us today, the answer is obvious. For someone at that time, it
might have been more difficult, even though Jeremiah does make a
powerful point in Jeremiah 28;8-9: the prophets in the past have
preached the same message that I am, that of judgment and doom.
Jeremiah, in the presence of the priests and people, earnestly
entreated them to submit to the king of Babylon for the time the Lord
had specified. He cited the men of Judah to the prophecies of Hosea,
Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and others whose messages of reproof and warning
had been similar to his own. He referred them to events which had taken
place in fulfillment of prophecies of retribution for unrepented sin. In
the past the judgments of God had been visited upon the impenitent in
exact fulfillment of His purpose as revealed through His messengers.-Ellen
Prophets and Kings, p. 445.
In short, just as we today are to learn lessons from sacred history,
Jeremiah was seeking to get the people in his time to do the same thing:
learn from the past, so you don't make the same errors that your
forefathers did. If it had been hard for them to listen to him
before, now with the ministry of Hananiah there to counter him,
Jeremiah's task was going to be that much more difficult.
Hananiah, whose name means God has been
gracious, seemed to be presenting a message of grace, of
forgiveness, of salvation. What lessons should we learn from this false
preacher of grace?
Wednesday November 25
The Yoke of Iron
The battle between the prophets wasn't just one of words, but of
deeds as well. In obedience to the command of God, Jeremiah put the
wooden yoke around his neck; this was an overt symbol of the message
that he had carried to the people.
What was the
prophetic symbolism of Hananiah's act?
Imagine, for example, that after Jesus cursed the fig tree
19-21), someone who had heard what Jesus said and knew what
had happened had replanted a new fig tree in the same spot, all in an
attempt to refute the prophecy of Jesus there. This is what Hananiah did
with Jeremiah and the prophecy that the yoke around his neck symbolized.
It was an act of open defiance of what Jeremiah said.
Note, too, Jeremiah's reaction. The texts record nothing of what he
said right after the yoke was broken. He just turned around and walked
away. If the story ended there, it would have seemed that the prophet
had retreated in defeat.
Jeremiah's response wasn't a message of revenge: you did this to
me, so I will do that to you. Instead, it was another clear message
from the Lord, but even stronger than what came before. Hananiah might
have been able to break a wooden yoke, but who can break an iron one? In
a sense, what the Lord said to them was that by their obstinacy and
refusal to obey, they only were making matters worse. If you thought a
wooden yoke was bad, try an iron one.
Who hasn't learned the hard way about making
things more difficult for ourselves by obstinacy? When dealing with the
Lord, why is it always better to submit and surrender right away than to
keep on fighting and making things harder on yourself?
Thursday November 26
Trusting in Lies
Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not
sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie(Jer.
The answer about who was right, whether Jeremiah or Hananiah, came
Jeremiah 28:16-17 tells the fate of the false prophet, which was
just what the true prophet had said it would be.
Though Hananiah died, he still had done damage to the nation. His
works, in a sense, followed him. He made the people to trust in a
lie. The Hebrew verb is hiphil, a causative form of the verb
to trust. He caused them to trust in a lie, not in the sense of
physically forcing them, but through deception. Even though the Lord had
not sent him, he spoke in the name of the Lord, which carried a lot of
weight in Judah. Added to that, Hananiah's message of grace,
deliverance, and redemption was certainly something that the
people wanted to hear, considering the great threat that Babylon posed
to the nation. It was, though, a false gospel, a false message of
salvation that the Lord had not given them. So, at a time when the
people needed to hear the words of Jeremiah and the message of
redemption that he brought, they listened to the words of Hananiah
instead, and this made their woes only worse.
Things are no different today: we are in the great controversy, a
battle for the hearts and minds of the world's billions. Satan is
working diligently to get as many as possible to trust in a lie,
and that lie can come in many guises and forms, just as long as it is
always a lie. After all, because Jesus said I am the way, the truth,
and the life(John
14:6), Satan's lies can be about anything and everything,
just as long as they don't contain the truth as it is in Jesus.
What are some of the lies that are so prevalent
in your culture today? Why is clinging to Jesus, and His Word, our only
protection against them?
Further Thought: As we have seen, people
want to believe good news, not bad. They wanted to believe, for
instance, in Hananiah's message, not Jeremiah's. Today the same thing
happens as well. Many still insist, for instance, that our world will
only improve over time. Yet, even an atheist like Terry Eagleton sees
just how farcical that idea is: If ever there was a pious myth and
piece of credulous superstition, it is the liberal-rationalist belief
that, a few hiccups apart, we are all steadily en route to a finer
world. This brittle triumphalism is a hangover from the heroic epoch of
liberalism, when the middle classes' star was in the ascendant. Today,
it sits cheek by jowl with the cynicism, skepticism, or nihilism into
which much of that honorable lineage has degenerated.-Reason,
Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, (Yale
University Press), Kindle Edition, p. 70. Though some aspects of life
have improved, our world, in and of itself, offers us little hope,
little consolation, especially in the long run. If we are to have any
real hope, it has to be in something divine, not earthly, in something
supernatural, not natural. And of course, that's what the gospel is all
about: God's divine and supernatural intervention in our world and our
lives. Without that, what do we have other than just more Hananiahs and
Think about our earth's future as a whole, even if from a
purely human standpoint. Does it look hopeful and full of
promise, or does it look fearful, dangerous, and full of
uncertainty? What reasons can you give for your answers?
Jeremiah's message, as we saw in the context of Hananiah's
lies, was to look at the past, to look at history, and to learn
from it. Ellen G. White wrote something similar: We have
nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the
way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.-Life
Sketches, p. 196. What does she mean by that? What
has happened in our past, and God's teaching in it, that can
help us be prepared for what will undoubtedly come in the
Hananiah gave a false message of grace. What are some of
those false messages of grace today that we must guard ourselves
against? Grace, of course, is our only hope, but in what ways
can it be presented as a lie?
God’s Saving Hand—Part 2
Treating the wounds was nearly as painful as the burns
themselves. Every day nurses removed the bandages and soaked the
burns in salt water. Then they gently scraped the burns to remove
the dead skin. This would help prevent infection. The nurses taught
Mrs. Banda how to wash the wounds and apply the medicine. She stayed
in the hospital with her husband and son to prepare their meals and
help care for them.
After two long months Pastor Banda insisted that he could stay no
longer in the hospital. His muscles were weak, and he could barely
walk, but he was concerned about his church members.
After Pastor Banda returned home, Joshua and his mother remained
in the hospital for four more months. Every day his mother talked
gently to him as she cleaned and dressed his wounds. Her presence
strengthened the boy and gave him hope.
It was difficult for the family to be separated for so many
months. They couldn’t visit one another, but they could pray.
After six months Joshua was transferred to a rehabilitation
hospital for another three months of physical therapy. He couldn’t
walk, but he learned to shuffle along behind a walker. His mother
began a new routine of daily therapy. She soaked his legs in warm
water, then stretched the muscles in his legs. It was painful, but
she urged Joshua to sing instead of cry.
At last Joshua was able to go home, but his mother continued
treating him and encouraged him to walk. When he saw his friends
playing outside, he wanted to play too. After a year of recovery and
therapy Joshua was able to walk without help.
Pastor Banda’s recovery took a long time too. His damaged leg
muscles would not stretch enough to allow him to ride a bicycle. And
this made it very difficult for him to get from one church to
another in the countryside. But his churches continued to grow in
size and in faith.
Pastor Banda knows that throughout their ordeal God was beside
each member of the family, encouraging, blessing, and healing.
God was blessing us even during our most difficult hour, he
says. When I returned to work from the hospital, the church
prospered even more, and more people came into the church than had
been coming before the fire.
Mrs. Banda was also grateful for God’s blessings during the
terrible ordeal. I thank God for saving my husband and son,
she says. This experience taught me the importance of spending
more time with my family. I had failed to notice some special
qualities in little Joshua that I saw when he was in the hospital.
For example, he has a wonderful talent for singing that I did not
fully realize until I heard him singing while he was confined to his
bed in the hospital. During our long hospital stay we had time to
become good friends with each other and with God.
After studying at Solusi University in
Zimbabwe, Wesley Banda is now an ordained minister working in
Malawi. While at Solusi, Oliva Banda also took some classes, as time
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