From Jeremiah 32-34
Those who know me really well know I been quite pessimistic about buying property. I’m sure that as soon as I buy we will have a house price crash. In today’s passage the LORD commands Jeremiah to buy some property. Like me, Jeremiah shares a pessimistic outlook but he does as he is commanded and then asks why.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The passage picks up after he has bought the property (Jer 32.1-15).
16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying: 17 ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jer 32:16–17)
Jeremiah start of recognising the LORD’s power in creation. He admits ‘nothing is too hard’ for him. He says all this with a view to the property he had just bought. What is the LORD trying to say through him?
18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. (Jer 32:18-19)
Jeremiah recognises the LORD is just and rewards all people according to the way they live. He shows steadfast love (covenant love) to the righteous who trust in him and obey his voice. But he also repays people for their wrongdoing and in particular Jeremiah has in mind their fathers to this point.
20 You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day. 21 You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror. 22 And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Jer 32:20-22)
The LORD has been faithful to his covenant promises to Abraham and brought Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land. How did they respond?
23 And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. 24 Behold, the siege mounds have come up to the city to take it, and because of sword and famine and pestilence the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it. (Jer 32:23-24)
They rejected him, did not obey his voice or walk in his ways. Therefore he sent disaster upon them as he promised. The LORD rewards all people according to the way they live – including Israel. The judgment he promised has now come upon them.
25 Yet you, O Lord GOD, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’ ” (Jer 32:25)
So why has the LORD instructed Jeremiah to purchase the field when Israel and the land is about to be over run with the LORD’s punishment? This is the main question behind all Jeremiah has said. Firstly the LORD explains his current actions.
26 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? 28 Therefore, thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it. 29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the LORD. (Jer 32:26–30)
The LORD is completely justified in the way he has treated wayward Israel. Israel has done nothing but evil. Israel has provoked him. That is why he has sent the Chaldeans (Babylon). After a little while the LORD now explains why he commanded Jeremiah to buy the field.
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’:
37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety.
38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.
40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. (Jer 32.36-42)
The LORD has taken a long term view of the situation. Yes he will punish Israel for the evil she has committed. But afterward he will restore her. The LORD fires off a number of promises where he commits himself to;
- Bring Israel back to the promised land
- Renew his relationship with them
- Give them a new heart and one way to live
- Make with them an everlasting covenant
The LORD is righteous in his judgment, compassionate in his treatment of Israel and faithful to his covenant promises to their fathers. He has instructed Jeremiah to buy the property in light of what he has promised to do in the future.
Story of Israel
The exile lasted about 70 years and I assume Jeremiah may have been able to retire in his land. Or his descendents did. Israel likewise had to wait for these promises of the LORD to come in effect. So some waited and some forgot. But the LORD didn’t forget.
Story of Jesus
He fulfilled his promises in Christ. Through his death and resurrection. Still people who believe Jesus is the risen King are called to look forward in faith.
5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Cor 5.5-9)
All around him Jeremiah saw the LORD’s righteous judgment. The world as he knew it was passing away. But the LORD asked him to buy a field. To look forward to another time when he would bring his people back and restore them. We too are called to look beyond our present situation. This world will pass away, our bodies that decay and will die. We are called to consider the house the LORD has prepared for us and the new resurrection body.
We are called to walk by faith (believing this will happen) and not by sight (in our current situation).
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