It’s hard to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes God asks us to do challenging things as a part of his plan. In “The Story of Jeremiah for Kids,” children will learn that Jeremiah obeyed God and shared a message of impending judgment (even though the message was not welcome and Jeremiah himself didn’t escape the consequences of the message). Life can be tough, but God promises that we can trust his methods and his will. So, will we obey the Lord even when it’s difficult?
TARGET AGES: 9 – 13 Older Elementary. You may need to simplify this lesson when working with younger children.
CURRICULUM UNIT: This lesson is part of the Who was …. ? series on major Bible characters.
OBJECTIVE: To help the children understand that God had a special plan for Jeremiah, and his obedience affected not only his family but the entire nation of Israel.
MAIN IDEA: Jeremiah bravely obeyed God and shared a message that wasn’t popular. And even though he faced challenging events, Jeremiah continued to obey God.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Jeremiah 1:1-10 & 15-16, Jeremiah 5:1-3 & 7-9 & 15-18, Jeremiah 39:1-2, Jeremiah 39:11-12, Philippians 4:13
MATERIAL(S): paper, pencils or pens, quarter-sized stones (at least three per child), clear party favor bags or plastic sandwich baggies, permanent markers (preferably fine-tipped)
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, give us boldness to obey you even when it is difficult. Thank you for always being with us and helping us do your will. Amen.”
ICEBREAKER REVIEW AND ACTIVITY:
Pass out the paper and writing utensils and ask the class to number from one to eight. Say, “We’re going to start today’s lesson with a review game.” Write the answers in random order on the board so the children have a word bank to reference. Then ask the following questions:
- To whom did God first say, “I will make your descendents as numerous as the stars?”(Abraham)
- What was the name of Moses’ brother, who helped him deliver the Hebrews out of Egypt? (Aaron)
- Who had twelve sons? (Jacob)
- Which of Jacob’s sons became second in command in Egypt and thus had the ability to save his family from the famine? (Joseph)
- Who was the foreigner who dedicated herself to belief in God and eventually became the great-grandmother of King David? (Ruth)
- Who asked God for wisdom and was rewarded through abundant wealth and the responsibility of building the temple in Jerusalem? (Solomon)
- Who was “blameless and upright,” yet faced many trials? (Job)
- Who went to heaven in a whirlwind and chariot of fire? (Elijah)
Review the answers to each of the questions and see which child chose the most correct answers. Help the children understand that knowing the “story” of Abraham’s family (and other people God used) helps connect us to faith in Jesus. Also, consider bringing a prize for the winner!
Lesson (20 minutes)
- Say, “Last week we learned about Elijah, who was a prophet. Who remembers the definition for the word, ‘prophet’ (a messenger of God)?” Explain that today we are talking about another prophet named Jeremiah who also had a hard message to bring to God’s people. Read Jeremiah 1:1-10. Ask, “What was Jeremiah’s job (he was a priest)? What were his concerns when God spoke to him (that he couldn’t speak and he was too young)? How did God respond (that he must speak and not be afraid)?” Emphasize that Jeremiah reacted very humanly, but God required that he step up boldly and accept his given calling. Explain to the class that the same is true for all of us – when God calls us to do something, then we can trust that he will help and enable us. Also, our obedience to God’s calling affects our families and communities.
- Next, read Jeremiah 1:15-16. Ask, “What did God say was going to happen (invasion)? Why was it going to happen (because of his peoples’ wickedness)?” Discuss the holy nature of God and his desire to bring people into a right relationship with him through Jesus Christ. Also, iterate that God’s judgment is sometimes the only way for people to turn back to him. Say, “God’s holiness says there must be a payment for sin, and Jesus paid for our sins by dying on the cross. However, only when we believe in Jesus can we accept the payment for our sins.” Briefly share the gospel message with the class and invite them to ask questions about becoming a believer.
- God gives more details for his judgment in Jeremiah 5:1-3, 7-9, and 15-18. Read the passages and then ask, “Even with this bad news, how was God going to protect his people (by not destroying them completely)? What does this teach us about the nature of God (that he extends mercy even in the midst of judgment)?” Explain that even though Jeremiah was faithful in delivering God’s message, he was eventually thrown into prison because the rulers thought he was a spy for the Babylonians. While Jeremiah was in prison, Jerusalem was attacked and conquered by the Babylonians. Read Jeremiah 39:1-2. Ask, “So what do you think eventually happened to Jeremiah? Let’s find out by reading Jeremiah 39:11-12.” Discuss that Jeremiah eventually ended up being taken to Egypt against his will, but he never stopped sharing God’s message of repentance and future renewal of God’s people. Say, “God gave Jeremiah a very specific, but very hard assignment. Let’s remember this week that no matter what God asks us to do, even if it’s hard, that he will continue to protect and provide for us and never leave us!” Lastly, read Philippians 4:13.
“Hard Places” Craft (15 minutes)
Reiterate to the class that even though Jeremiah was obedient to God, he experienced some hard things (such as being taken to Egypt and having to share bad news with God’s people). Comment, “We’ve all experienced some hard, heart-breaking, and frustrating things because we are God’s children. So, we’re going to make a craft to remind us that the Lord is greater than anything bad we could ever experience.” Give each child at least three stones and ask them to carefully write the name of something that has challenged their faith on each stone (e.g. sadness, loss, death, insecurity). Then give each child a plastic favor bag and help them write, “GOD IS GREATER!” on the bag. Help the class understand that placing the stones inside the bags (and sealing the bags with a tie or knot) symbolize our trust in God to take care of even the deepest hurts. Say, “The Lord knows we have these ‘heavy’ stones in our hearts! But he asks us to trust him anyway and make the choice to serve him, like Jeremiah did, even when things are hard.”
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Jeremiah obeyed God even when it was hard and God protected him. We can trust that God will help us when we experience a challenge, especially when we are seeking to obey him!
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, give us the desire to obey you know matter what. And please help us trust your plan for our lives. Amen.”
Who was …. A Study on Bible Characters
This lesson is part of a 14 unit curriculum for older children (age 9 – 13) that introduces major characters in the Bible.