A few questions for reflection and discussion related to Jeremiah 1:4-10, the Uniform Series text for Sunday, July 16 (my exegetical notes here) :
God tells Jeremiah God has had intimate knowledge and plans for him since before his pre-birth formation, in which God also says he was creatively involved. Do we think this intimate individual knowledge applies only to Jeremiah, or only to some individuals, or to all individuals? What does, or might, this mean about our own personalities, abilities, aptitudes, etc.? What does, or might, this mean about our occupations? Our “mission in life”? What are the possible implications of this information? Does it feel welcome, unwelcome, both, or neither? Why?
God has given Jeremiah the task of prophesying to “the nations.” Who are “the nations”? In what way or ways would this task be demanding? Why would Jeremiah be surprised to have messages to deliver to Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem? In what way or ways can messages to Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem be considered messages to “the nations”? What is harder: speaking to people you know well, or speaking to strangers? Why?
We know (as Jeremiah might not, yet) that the message to Judah and Jerusalem will contain a lot of bad news. If you had to deliver bad news, would you rather deliver it to someone like you, or someone different from you? To someone you know well, or to relative strangers? Why? If you had to receive bad news, from whom would you rather receive it: a member of your own “group,” or an outsider? Why? What qualities of the messenger would make bad news easier to receive? Why? What qualities of the messenger would make bad news more trustworthy or persuasive? Why?
God describes Jeremiah’s appointment as being “to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10) How will the delivery of prophetic messages accomplish these tasks? If you could choose your own work, would you choose any of these tasks? Which ones? Why? Would you refuse (or want to refuse) any of these tasks? Which ones? Why?
God specifically tells Jeremiah that God will be with him, “to deliver him,” in his upcoming work. What effect does this assurance have on Jeremiah? What effect would it have on you? Why?