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August 9, 2015
“Amend Your Ways!”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)
People have a false sense of security in many things in this world today. They find security in their finances; security in their accomplishments and education; security in their relationships or social status’, titles and the like. People place too much value and importance on the non-relevant things of life while their soul remains in danger. They invest over and over again in these hoping to find some semblance of safety, but Jesus once wisely said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The only place of true safety and security is found in the will of God. God will keep those who cleave unto Him; who hold fast to His Word. Corrie ten Boom is quoted as saying, “There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!” (Quote Source: Goodreads).
Today’s lesson examines this great truth. God used the prophet Jeremiah to send a shocking message to hopefully wake up His spiritually stiff-necked people who found their confidence in things and places, rather than God. They put more stock in the temple then they did He who they are to worship in the temple. They figured their life of sin was okay because they had the temple with them and surely God would save them and His temple from utter destruction.
Wrong! Injustice, we have learned over and over again in these lessons, will be repaid no matter who you are or where you reside.
God and His will are to take precedence over everything. Even over the temple where He placed His own name.
Jeremiah 7:1-2 “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.”
God had a bone to pick with His people and Jeremiah was the prophet chosen to deliver His message. Jeremiah was “the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,” (Jer. 1:1).
His instructions here in today’s lesson were to “Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word.” Despite the popularity of some of wanting to stand behind the pulpit and be the one doing the proclaiming, during the times of the Bible era when one was called by God to proclaim a word to others on His behalf, it usually led to trials, persecution, and yes, sometimes even death (see Jer. 26:8).
Jeremiah was to “stand in the gate of the LORD’s house” and deliver a very unpopular message. As people came in and out of the temple to “worship” they would be greeted by a sermon that attacks their unjust ways toward men and their empty worship of God.
“But I go to church!” I’m sure many can make that claim (that’s what they thought back then, too), but true worship of God involves more than just going into a building at an appointed time to hear a sermon and then leave and get on with unchanged life.
God is against surface and fake worship that doesn’t have a changed life at the end. Surface worship is only what can be seen with the naked eye. But, as the Bible declares, “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” (1 Sam. 16:7, KJV). He not only looks at the temple, but He looks in the heart to see what’s really going on.
The “gate” Jeremiah stands for his proclamation is supposedly the same one we see in chapter 26. The whole point of his message here in chapter 7 and also in chapter 26 was that some might hear the spoken word of God and “turn every man from his evil way,” (Jer. 26:3).
Jeremiah 7:3-7 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.”
“Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.” In Jeremiah 26:13 we see the same plea with a similar promise where he adds, “and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.”
God used many people, many times to avert judgment. Jeremiah 26:5 we see Him sending the prophets “both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened.”
It’s that “but” that always gets people in trouble. It’s not that God hasn’t tried over and over again to keep His people from their prophesied punishment; it’s the people who refuse to listen until it’s too late.
God wanted them to “dwell in this place.” He wanted them to maintain in the promise He gave them. This is where they belong. This is where He delivered them to. If the people will turn around, God will turn around His judgment.
Note: I often see preachers get in a glorious mood during a sermon and declare if you will just turn around three times God is going to change your situation. Honey, if all you turn around is your body then your situation IS NOT going to change. For God to turn something around for you, check to see if you got some mending to do.
God wants changed hearts. He wants them to repent and turn their lives around, not just their bodies. In a previous article I wrote titled: “Return to Me” it says:
“Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.
Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!
God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.”(Wordforlifesays.com/Return to Me; I encourage you to click over and read the whole article).
If they will return; if they will amend their ways and their doings, God said, “I will cause you to dwell in this place.” This means they wouldn’t have to suffer the indignation of going into captivity. They wouldn’t have to suffer the effects of war watching loved ones die or never come home at all. Children wouldn’t be lost due to being made slaves in a foreign land. In other words, God is saying that it doesn’t have to be like this. There is another way; another option. Turn back to me and stay in the place of your promise!
He exhorted them to stop trusting in “lying words!”
Watch where you put your trust! Trust is a fragile thing so where you put your trust needs to be secure. In our introduction we opened up talking about having a false sense of security. Deceptive words are meant to mislead one down the wrong path where false hope resides, causing them to place their confidence in that which will not stand the test of time.
Listening to false prophets, they erroneously believed that nothing can happen to them because of the “temple” in their midst. They trusted more in the physical building of the temple to save them than the God who dwells in its midst. Their worship was as empty as the false prophets’ words.
Yet, Jeremiah, the true prophet of God pointed out the need to not just amend their ways, but to “thoroughly amend your ways.” This means they could not do a half-way job. They had to get it completely right with God. God accepts nothing but total commitment and devotion from His followers. There is a popular saying amongst the Christian circles that says, “You can’t worship God on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week.” This kind of so-called worship will not do.
God wants people that are just as committed as He is. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. We are to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 15:58).
“Thoroughly” following God will cause one to thoroughly “execute judgment between a man and his neighbour.” They will seek to do right in their dealings with one another. Remember in previous lessons they were accused of injustices and bribes that would show favor to the more affluent of society while leaving the less fortunate at the disposal of the greed and wickedness of those who had more power.
This has been a great grievance of God against His people for some time. Their lack of justice and operating in a fair and balanced system has caused oppression for the weakest of society, namely the “stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” The instructions of God’s word says to, “Defend the poor and the fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and the needy,” (Ps. 82:3), not tear them down even further.
God told them through Jeremiah they had to turn away from doing those things. Cases that come up between a “man and his neighbour” let them be justly decided without the influence of wealth to buy favor one way or the other.
“And shed not innocent blood in this place.” Murder is always wrong! Man can kill a life and walk away, but God knows what it is to hear the blood of the slain cry out to Him for vengeance (Gen. 4:10-16). Turn away from these evil practices!
“Neither walk after other gods to your hurt.” Serving false gods will “hurt” you. Idol worship will not only rob you of your relationship with God, but it will lead you on a downward spiral toward the gate of hell (read Hosea 8). God made it very clear in Exodus, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” (Ex. 20:3). God will not share His glory with another, Is. 42:8. He is a jealous God and He wants you all to Himself, (Ex. 20:5, 34:14).
Jeremiah 7:8-11 “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.”
Again is the accusation of their “trust in lying words, that cannot profit.” Deception has been at the heart of causing man to go astray since the very beginning.
“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” Will you presume to continue in sin, breaking many of My Ten Commandments, and then come into my house to feign worship and think that you are “delivered?”
I don’t think so!
The people were deliberately sinning and coming to the temple to worship as if everything is okay; nothing can happen to them. They, during this time, even mixed their worship of the only true living God with false idols; which is another big No, No.
If they keep progressing the way they are, they are going to get themselves nowhere but in captivity! In the end, they were going to be the ones that would lose out on receiving God’s best for their life. God’s goal for sending Jeremiah was to try to get the people back on the right track, treat His house with the respect it deserves and worship like they were supposed to, and treat people like they’re supposed to.
He said, “For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings . . . Then, will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever,” (Jer. 7:5-7).
“Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.” They can have their heads bowed in what appears to be true worship; they can have lips that utter prayers that may seem sincere to a hearer of it, but God sees what’s really going on on the inside. They treated His house any kind of way; they treated people any kind of way, just as they did their “worship,” but this didn’t fly too well with God. God always sees what’s really going on.
“Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?” Jesus had a similar accusation against those who worshipped in the temple during His day. Mark 11:15-17 tells us, “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
In Jesus’ day they were selling livestock and defrauding funds in God’s house. While in Jeremiah’s day they took God’s house for granted in believing they would always have safety there despite their erroneous lifestyle. Too many today also operate under that same false belief.
Jeremiah 7:12-15 “But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.”
“But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.” God supplied them with a very real life example that no matter who you or where you are, all sin will be repaid. The unrepentant will be punished!
Go to “Shiloh,” and see. Psalms shed some insight on what took place there, in the place where God’s tabernacle had been:
“For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:
So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand,” (Ps. 78:58-61; read the entire chapter for more details).
If you read in 1 Samuel you’ll see there was a battle between the children of Israel and the Philistines. They sent to Shiloh to bring down the Ark of the Covenant (4:4) for safety against the enemy. When the ark came into the camp, all Israel shouted with joy(thinking their confidence had arrived) befuddling the minds of the Philistines (4:5-6). The enemy recognized what the ark stood for; the presence of God. They remember the stories of old of how He defeated the Egyptians. They become frightened and fretted of how they would fight against such a mighty force as He (4:7-8).
Determined not to become slaves of the Hebrews, they fought all the more and Israel was smitten and 30,000 footmen were slaughtered that day (4:9-10). The Ark of the Covenant was taken and Eli’s sons were killed (4:11).
So, what makes them think He won’t do it again? In chapter 26 of Jeremiah He warns, “Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth,” (26:6). Shiloh may have housed God’s tabernacle but it also became God’s target to eradicate sin and punish the transgressions of His people.
It was for “wickedness” that He punished the people of Israel, and now, He says, “Ye have done all these works.” They have relished in their sins unbeknownst to them due to their false belief, God would require a time of retribution. If there is one thing we can take away from all these lessons, it’s this: “God will repay every wrong.”
He sent warnings because God’s believes in second chances. Yet, “ye answered not.” Please, don’t hang up on God. Don’t let His message go to voicemail. When He calls; answer. Follow His leading that you might end up on a blessed path and not the one that leads to destruction.
“Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.” Here it is in plain speech. Just as I did to them, I’m going to do to you. There was no way to misunderstand that message and not get the point. If they don’t repent, this WAS going to happen. History WILL repeat itself.
Our desire should be to be in the presence of the Lord, and not treated as castaways. But, sin will remove you from where God is: “For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day,” (2 Kings 17:22-23).
The northern tribes already fell to the Assyrian army, here represented as “Ephraim,” and the same thing was going to happen to these people if they do not amend their ways. Learn from your “brethren” what not to do.
Get right with God because the only true safe place is in His will!
(Click here for PDF: Amend Your Ways Sunday School Lesson, or simply click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to enhance this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
How Many Words?: Amend Your Ways How Many Words (Use this PDF for accurate printing)
Draw the Scene: Amend Your Ways Draw the Scene (Use this PDF for accurate printing)
“Children’s Activities for Jeremiah” (Included activity ideas for “The Call of Jeremiah” and “God and Idols.” Both are sure to compliment this lesson. Enjoy!)
“Prophets” (Old Testament prophets in review for reading age children to understand. Enjoy!)
“The Big Idea: Jeremiah” (Here is a very informative power point presentation that’s great for older students and adults. Select open or save when prompted at the bottom of your screen. Enjoy!)
“Unseen Faith” (This object talk can be linked to the power of God portion of this lesson. Enjoy!)
“Hangman”: This old game is excellent for lesson reinforcement. Simply print the worksheet from Printactivities.com, get your verses or phrases from the lesson you want to use or the students want to use with each other, play and enjoy! (A single hangman page can be found at Thetripclip.com. Enjoy!) (Great for memory verses!)
“Do the Right Thing” (This lesson plan and activities really gets the students thinking about how to apply the truth of our lesson to their own lives. Enjoy!)
“Five Steps to Knowing God’s Word” (Jesus was able to resist the devil because He knew God’s Word. This activity will help your students to learn the importance of knowing God Word so that they can fight like Jesus fought. Enjoy!)
“The Bible” (A 5-series lesson that share the importance of God’s Word. Jesus used the Word as a weapon and it’s just as important for our students to learn it. Here you will find object talks, lesson ideas and activities. Enjoy!)
“Bible Verse Balloon Batting” (A great memory verse game. Enjoy!)
“Live Your Life for God” (Games and Activities)
“Children’s Activities About Sin” from Ehow.com