They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.
Jeremiah 32:38-39 (NIV)
Read: Jeremiah 32:1-44
Consider: Today’s reading from Jeremiah 32 is interesting as it records an event during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Unfortunately Jeremiah ‘… was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah’ (Jeremiah 32:2). What was Jeremiah’s crime? As a prophet Jeremiah spoke the truth as a message given to him by God. He did not doubt what God said, even when it resulted in him displeasing Zedekiah, king of Judah. It is clear that Zedekiah wasn’t really interested in what God had to say about the siege of Jerusalem and how it would end (32:3-5).
Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah for speaking the truth that Jerusalem would fall and that Zedekiah would be taken to Babylon. Now comes the surprise! Facing the fall of Jerusalem and certain transportation to Babylon as a prisoner of the Babylonians, Jeremiah receives a word from God that he is to buy a field. It wasn’t just any field, it was a field in the region of Anathoth, which is about 3 miles (4.8km) north of Jerusalem. It is highly likely that the land was already captured and occupied by the Babylonians. This in itself would make the land an unattractive investment for anyone.
So what was Jeremiah thinking when he bought the land from Hanamel, his cousin? Notice what we are told in Jeremiah 32:8 – ‘The word of the LORD came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it”. We are not told what Jeremiah’s reaction to this was, but we do know that when his cousin Hanamel did come and ask him the very question revealed by God, Jeremiah bought the field for seventeen shekels of silver (32:8-90.
What on earth was Jeremiah thinking when buying a worthless field that he might never be able to enjoy? The crunch is that Jeremiah trusted God and we are told: I knew that this was the word of the LORD, so I bought the field at Anathoth (32:8-9). Jeremiah knew that God’s promises were not just for the ‘here and now’, but also for the ‘not yet’. Jeremiah knew that God would be faithful to his promises when he said: ‘… houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land’ (32:15).
It is clear from this passage that God was using the Babylonians to punish the people of Israel for turning away from him and choosing to live as they wanted (32:30, 32-33). But that is not the end: God has a future in store for them, where: They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action .. I will make an everlasting covenant with them (32:38-40). Jeremiah showed by his life and witness that he believed God, enabling him to speak the truth to Zedekiah and to trust God for the future fulfilment of his promises.
There is a warning in this passage for anyone who chooses to ignore what God has said regarding punishment for sin. While there might seem plenty of time in which to repent and seek forgiveness, time is running out. There is also a challenge for us to follow God’s leading, despite the personal cost that might come from it. Lastly, there is an example to follow – when God asks or tells us to do something, we should not look at it in purely human terms. God has a longterm plan for us, our families, our nations that requires us to play our part and trust him for the outcome.
Pray: Father, give us courage like Jeremiah to speak the truth, even if it might make us unpopular. Give us Jeremiah’s confidence in your leading, even when the world might see it as unreasonable to follow your guidance. Give us Jeremiah’s faith to trust you for the longterm outcome, knowing that your promises will always be fulfilled, even if it is beyond our lifetime. Amen