This is Lesson 1 of 6 in the Cleanse women’s series.
In this pursueGOD series we’ll help women talk about the struggle we all have with fighting against idols in our lives. In this lesson we’ll look at the Old Testament book of Jeremiah to see how the ancient people of Israel struggled with idols in their day. Then, in the rest of the series, we’ll expose the modern-day idols of bitterness, fear, envy and more. If you’re looking to use this in your women’s ministry or in a small group setting, make sure to watch the leader prep video.
There has always been a struggle between God and woman. God wants our devotion but we want to be devoted to ourselves. God wants us to seek fulfillment in him but we seek to be satisfied elsewhere. God has a plan for each of our lives but we want to blaze our own trail.
Israel used to be in love with God
In Jeremiah 2, the prophet speaks for God to the people. They used to love God. There was a time when Israel worshiped God for his provision and marveled at his miracles. The relationship between God and his people was fresh and new – like that of a young married couple.
Jeremiah 2:2-3 “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago,
how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Many women can relate to this picture. When life is good, and when God seems to be at work, faith is strong. We all want a God who serves our needs. But when trouble comes – or even when too much success comes – we can easily turn our attention to other things. Just like the Israelites did.
Over time, Israel turned from God to idols
An idol is the worship of something or someone revered above all else. In other words, an idol is anything in our lives that we value more than God. They capture our attention and affection and become the things we chase after to find purpose and value. This is what happened with Israel. They forgot about God and started worshiping fake gods that had no real value.
Jeremiah 2:7-11 “And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord? Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols. Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord. “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come. “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!
We do the same thing. We forget about all that God has done for us and chase after insignificant things that will never bring us joy or help us in our time of need. As God says, “How strange!”
Let’s ditch our worthless idols that leave us feeling thirsty
Over the next few weeks, we’re going unpack why we choose to give our time and attention to things that won’t ever satisfy.
Jeremiah 2:12-13 The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me-the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
We walk through life, thirsty, looking for a refreshing drink. God is like a fresh spring with endless amounts of water to offer us. But our idols are like broken pots or wells that can’t hold water. We can keep trying to collect water in them but the water will continue to seep out. It’s a fruitless endeavor. We would all say the obvious answer is that we should head for the spring and ditch the worthless pots. Yet, many of us still run from the spring and toward empty pursuits.
Let’s free our lives from the idols that leave us feeling thirsty and find our way back to the spring full of living water, a life wholly dependent on God.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What are some idols our culture encourages us to worship? How are those things reinforced or promoted in our society?
- Read Jeremiah 2:1-3. Share a time you were on a spiritual high with God. What did you learn about God during that time? Why is it hard to sustain that level of intimacy all the time?
- Read Jeremiah 2:4-7. Share a time God provided for you. Why do we so easily forget to give God credit for all he’s done in the past when we’re facing hard times now?
- Read Jeremiah 2:13. Why is it so common to want to replace God with something else? What are some of the “broken cisterns” you’ve put your hope in instead of God?
- What do you hope to get from this series?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
Want More? (for further study on this topic)
Watch the videos and read the passages to prepare your heart for this series. Journal your thoughts and insights as you learn who God is and evaluate if he’s the only one you worship.
Watch – “God Is Better”
Read Jeremiah 2. Write down all God’s grievances with Israel. What is the Israelites pattern of behavior?
Watch – “God Is Chasing You”
Read John 4:1-15. Why do you think Jesus engaged with this woman? What is the gift Jesus is referring to in verse 10? What is Jesus trying to get the woman to understand about the water she really needs?
Read Revelation 7:16-17. Who is the spring of living water? Do you believe that God is all you need to be fulfilled? Why or why not?