Object lessons in the book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah 16

This morning I brought to you a leaky bucket. I used this leaky bucket to make the point that we are not to be leaky buckets as it regards the confidential information that other people share with us.

I used this object lesson today because I have discovered something: The book of Jeremiah is full of object lessons. Object lessons are a great way to teach.

Example: Jeremiah 13:

God tells Jeremiah to buy a linen belt and wear it around his waist and to be very careful not to let it touch water. Shortly after this, God proceeded to tell Jeremiah to take his fancy belt and to bury it in the ground. Weeks, perhaps months later, God tells Jeremiah to dig the belt back up. This belt then serves as a teaching point to the people that God had sent Jeremiah to.

Example: Jeremiah 19

In this chapter God instructs Jeremiah to buy a clay jar from a potter and then take some of the elders and priests out to a specific gate. At the gate in question, Jeremiah was to take the clay jar and smash it. Following the smashing of the jar, Jeremiah was to deliver God's message, explaining the meaning of the smashed jar.

Today we are going to consider Jeremiah 16 together. In Jeremiah 16 God gives 3 commands to Jeremiah as it regarded how he was not to live his life. In each case, the prohibition served as an object lesson for those whom Jeremiah served.

God's 3 commands to Jeremiah

1. Jeremiah you are not to marry and have sons or daughters in this place v.2
2. Jeremiah, you are not to attend funerals or pass on your condolences to those in mourning
3. Jeremiah, you are not to attend any house where there is a party, feast, or celebration

Note: Each thing God prohibited was culturally expected, so for Jeremiah not to do the 3 would have been a very big deal.

Before reading the text:

Why do you think God forbade Jeremiah from marrying and having children? Why do you think God told Jeremiah to not attend funerals or to pass on his condolences to those who mourned? Why do you think God forbade Jeremiah from attending any parties, feasts, or celebrations?

What do you think God wanted His people to learn through the life of Jeremiah?


I. God forbade Jeremiah from marrying and having children that HE might protect Jeremiah v.1-4

Note how the text speaks of the sons and daughters and mothers and fathers dying of disease, sword, and famine- which were coming as part of God's judgment against His rebellious people. God forbade Jeremiah from marrying and having children that He might spare Jeremiah the grief of seeing his wife and children die horrible deaths.

Further application

1. Can you think of ways in which God has protected you?
2. When God says no to something its most often because He wants to spare us from unnecessary pain and suffering (Sometimes God also says no because we are under discipline and facing the consequences)
3. For those considering marriage, it is always recommended to consider the times that one lives in.

Consider Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 7:25-31; "Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away."

II. God told Jeremiah to not marry, not attend funerals, and not attend celebrations because HE wanted to get His peoples attention

His people weren't listening and so God - being incredibly creative- finds a FRESH way to get their attention.

Point: When hards are hard, God in his mercy and grace, still finds ways to warn people

III. The meaning behind God's threefold command to Jeremiah

1. No wife and kids for Jeremiah because when God's wrath was poured out against the people because of their sin, wives, husbands, and children would die in great numbers
2. No attending funerals or expressing his condolences because when God judged his people there would be no time, energy, or desire to bury the dead or express sympathy to each other
3. No attending feasts and celebrations because when the land was overrun and the people killed, there would be no more feasting or celebrations.

IV. A most surprising response: READ v.10

God, ahead of time tells Jeremiah that the people after asking of the meaning of his culturally odd behavior and then hearing of the judgment of God that was soon coming, were going to PROTEST THEIR INNOCENCE

Point: When people abandon God and His Word they cease to have a moral anchor and hence their comprehension of right and wrong and how to live before God, goes out the proverbial window

Thus we have verses like Hosea 4:6a, wherein God says; "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge," (see also Amos 8)

Presently in Canada there is a whole generation that is growing up that has the same mindset as the people of Jeremiah's day.

When told that: homosexuality is a sin, premarital sex is wrong, abortion is wicked, lying brings God's judgment, drunkeness, drug use, or living together before marriage is sinful, people look at us with incredulity, they look at us as if we were a fossil, they look at us as if were crazy and when they are told that for such things the judgment and wrath of God is coming, such is too much for them. And yet, these very same people wonder why their relationships never work, they wonder why their children are so rebellious, they wonder why underneath it all they are unhappy and unfulfilled.

V. Ponder the amazing grace of God v.14-15

While Jeremiah told the people of the coming judgment of God- identifying their sins in the process, he also spoke to them of something they didn't deserve - the mercy and grace of God. READ Jeremiah 16:14-15

The amazing grace of God should always stir our sense of wonder and lead us to praise HIS name

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

VI. While the grace and mercy of God is available, JUSTICE will be done v.16-18

The wicked will be punished receiving what they deserve for their wickedness

As the followers of Christ we need to warn people of the danger they are in, calling people to repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

CONCLUSION -Jeremiah 16: A quick overview

3 anti cultural commands that God gave to Jeremiah

1. Do not to marry or have children
2. Do not attend funerals or give out any condolences
3. Do not attend any celebrations or feasts

God's command to not marry and have children was meant to protect Jeremiah from untold grief. Ponder the ways in which God has protected you

Each of God's commands for Jeremiah had points of contact with the message of repentance and coming judgment of God-- a message he faithfully took even though he was persecuted much for doing so

When people who are mired in sin profess their innocence and appear shocked that they are in trouble with God-- it's indicative that they have abandoned the word of God and have no moral anchor: KEEP in the WORD!

The amazing grace of God which is available to this day- in the person of Christ and his work on the cross- should always stir our sense of wonder and lead to the praise of His name

As merciful and as gracious as God is, justice will be done. The wicked will be punished and get what they deserve. Turn to God before it's too late.