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WEEK 3. SEPTEMBER 15-21

LESSON 3

INTIMATE ENEMIES

LESSON TEXT: JEREMIAH 11:18-23; 12:5-41; 

MEMORY VERSES
Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it."    Jeremiah 12:8, KJV

Coddle — Nurse or care for indulgently, pamper.
Footman — An infantry soldier.
Incredulous — Disinclined or indisposed to believe; skeptical.

Suggested Emphasis


 It was Jesus' observation that "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house" (Matthew 13:57). Our Lord had returned to His childhood home, Nazareth, to publicize His ministry, but His audience was incredulous. Voices in the crowd scoffed, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son?" Their familiarity with Jesus bred a kind of contempt for Him, and they could not receive His Messianic claims. In Luke's version of this story, the crowd was so offended that they tried to push Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:29).

Sometimes, those closest to us have no appreciation for what God is doing in our lives. Perversely, though, we are hard-wired to seek the approval of our loved ones. The contradiction between what we expect and what we receive from our family can deal us a devastating blow of discouragement. This appears to be the situation Jeremiah faced in this lesson.

Emphasis 1: The Plot Against The Prophet

Jeremiah was born and raised in the small town of Anathoth, a few miles north of Je­rusalem. The perpetual hostility he encountered as a missionary in the big city of Jeru­salem may have made him a little homesick. We see in this passage that he intended to accept an invitation apparently by members of his own family to return to Anathoth. However, before he traveled there, the Lord revealed to him that it was a plot against his life. His enemies had enlisted his brethren to lure him back home, where they would capture him. The plan was either to intimidate him into silence or murder him outright (Jeremiah 11:21). The Lord promised his servant that this treachery would not go unanswered. "Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and daughters shall die by famine" (Jer. 11:22).

Emphasis 2: Ready To Run With Horses

The prophet was wounded by the betrayal. However, God would not let him languish in his pain and disappointment. Rather than coddle Jeremiah, the Lord chided him: "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?" If he could not withstand the faithlessness of the people of Ana-thoth, he had no hope against the enormously wicked schemers in Jerusalem.

God used this experience to toughen up the prophet and prepare him for the continual opposition that he would face for preaching the truth. The experience also allowed the prophet to feel what God felt about the betrayal of the entire nation. Notice how, in light of the preceding verses, 12:7-9 could have been spoken by either Jeremiah or God: "I have forsaken mine house," and "it crieth out against me, therefore I hated it." Jeremi­ah now intimately understood how Judah's treachery pained the Lord.

Emphasis 3: The Response To Opposition

A commitment to holiness may stir up some trouble in our households. Unregenerate souls hate the light of Jesus Christ because it exposes the evil that they do. When they see the light in us, they are going to chafe; they are going to find fault; they may even plot against us. As distressing as the situation may become, we should take some solace that it brings us into closer fellowship with our Lord. After all, Jesus too was alienated from kinfolk for the cause of the Gospel (see John 7:3-5).

We have no control over how people treat us, only how we respond. Do we compro­mise with our unsaved family members for peace's sake? Jesus said that if we deny Him here on earth, He would deny us before our Heavenly Father. Do we become rancorous or vengeful, rewarding evil for evil? Jesus said that we are to love, do good to, and pray for our enemies. We are admonished to patiently endure opposition and to maintain consistent godliness in the midst of it.

MISSION QUESTIONS

Why was God's response to the prophet so stern?
How would you encourage a Saint facing opposition in his or her family?

WORLD MISSION POINTS


Let us pray to recognize adversity even when it is amongst our most intimate circle.
Let us pray for God's protection in the midst of adversity.
Let us pray for holy boldness regardless of what God has called us to do.