woman receiving surprising news August 8-9 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 29; 2Kings 24:18-20; 2Chron 36:11-14; Jeremiah. 49:34-39; Jeremiah 23:9-40; Jeremiah 27, 28. Note: Because this is a two-day study, it is suggested that today's Bible reading be read on August 8 and the following devotional on August 9.

Accepting Life's Challenges

How would we react if someone gave us bad news, like the terminal illness of a loved one, the loss of our house or job, being told we will have a long hospital stay, or because of a crime we committed we will have to be imprisoned for a long time? The temptation is to deny it, to grasp on to any hope, and even listen to others tell us what we want to hear. In today's Bible reading, the nation of Judah receives bad news. The prophet Jeremiah tries to help his people respond in the right way to their tough challenges. What he tells them can help us, too, if we will listen.

Jeremiah, under instructions from the LORD, writes a letter from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon. Does he write them and say, “See, I told you so”? No, the LORD’s message for those in Babylon is for them to accept their punishment and make the best of it. He directs them to

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:5-7, NIV).

This is not what they want to hear—they want to go home!

What about the prophets with them in exile? They are telling them they will soon be going back home and taking all the articles of the temple with them.

In summary, God says,

They are not my prophets. Don’t listen to their lies. After seventy years and when your hearts have changed, I will bring you back to the land. The land and people of Jerusalem you now know will be destroyed by plague, famine, and sword. There is no hope for it or them because of their wickedness. All this has come upon you and them because you have not listened to me and turned from your sins. Those who prophesy lies to you will also die.

Again, this message is not what they want to hear. There is a future hope for Israel and Judah, but it is not near. They do not want to accept the words of Jeremiah. If the same message were given to our country, would we want to listen?

God was extremely patient and longsuffering with Israel and Judah. His righteousness, however, demands that sin must not go unpunished forever.

Have we fooled ourselves into thinking God does not see our sin and wickedness? He does. He will punish those who do not turn to Him from their sin and seek forgiveness. Let's live continually in the fear of the LORD and keep short accounts with Him when we sin. “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9; more...).

Not only are the exiles deceiving themselves, but the people still living in Jerusalem are as well. They also have false prophets telling them that very soon the exiles and the temple articles will return, and the yoke of bondage to the Babylonians will be removed. They do not want to listen to the words of judgment from Jeremiah. Jeremiah responds,

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?

See, the storm of the LORD will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly.

I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds (Jeremiah 23:16-23 NIV).

Jeremiah, therefore, encourages Jerusalem’s submission to the yoke of Babylonian rule. He instructs them not to resist the punishment, so things will go better for them and they can remain in their land. The LORD also kills the false prophet, Hananiah, in Jerusalem, for prophesying lies. Unfortunately, however, the king and people of Jerusalem continue in further wickedness and will not listen.

Lessons to Live By

How should we accept life's challenges?

  • We should accept it from the hand of God, whether it is our fault or not.
  • Submit to it, persevere through it, make the best of it, and wait for God to deliver.
  • If we have sinned, we must confess it and forsake it so we might have God’s mercy and grace (Jeremiah 29:11-13; more...).
  • Trust the LORD; He is faithful, He is Sovereign, and He will accomplish all He sets out to do.
  • If the LORD is our God, He is our deliverer. Let's look to Him and trust Him in all of life's challenges.

Focus Verses

Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’”

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A Look Ahead:In our Next Lesson, there are some individuals who experience A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. What can we do when this happens to us?

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