Today: [Jeremiah 32] Deliverance Out of Devastation: Have you ever faced difficulty in life and felt like there was no escape? Have there been times when you just couldn’t see any hope that things would get better? In this chapter we see Jeremiah in prison and the city of Jerusalem besieged, but God emphasizes that deliverance will come and that which is about to be lost will one day be restored.
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[Jer 32:1-44 KJV] 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which [was] the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which [was] in the king of Judah’s house. 3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4 And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; 5 And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper. 6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that [is] in Anathoth: for the right of redemption [is] thine to buy [it]. 8 So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that [is] in Anathoth, which [is] in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance [is] thine, and the redemption [is] thine; buy [it] for thyself. Then I knew that this [was] the word of the LORD. 9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that [was] in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, [even] seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed [it], and took witnesses, and weighed [him] the money in the balances. 11 So I took the evidence of the purchase, [both] that which was sealed [according] to the law and custom, and that which was open: 12 And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle’s [son], and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison. 13 And I charged Baruch before them, saying, 14 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.
The prophetic words in this chapter are from the time when the Babylonians have now besieged the city of Jerusalem. The ultimate end of this siege is the destruction of the city and the taking of the entire nation of Judah into captivity. In opening scene we see that Jeremiah, for speaking the words of God concerning the captivity is placed in prison in king Zedekiah’s house. Though Jeremiah’s words are stout against the city and the king, he persists in saying exactly what God has spoken to him – declaring that Zedekiah himself will go bound the king of Babylon and will die in captivity. These things all came to pass just as Jeremiah said.
It is astonishing that while Jeremiah is in prison, in a besieged city that God tells him to buy a piece of ground from his uncle. The ground is an ancestral inheritance of Jeremiah’s family and because the Jubilee is approaching the uncle offers it to Jeremiah under the right of release prescribed by Moses law. What an amazing thing. There is great instability in the land, the enemy is at the gate and the Father tells Jeremiah IN PRISON to purchase a piece of land. Jeremiah doesn’t believe God would ask him to do this until true to the word, the uncle shows up and THEN he realizes the thing proceeds from God, and he buys the land.
We can understand if not agree with the rejection of the word of Jeremiah by the king and the people of the city and the southern kingdom, but Jeremiah himself does not believe the word of the Lord proceeding out of his own mouth – until it comes to pass just like God reveals to him ahead of time. Do you ever have trouble believing things that God has told you? 2 Chron. 20:20 says if we believe the prophets, so shall we prosper. The idea behind purchasing this land is to make the point that though great upheaval is coming – ultimately the people will be restored and the nation thriving. It is a promise intended to sustain the people through a very difficult season ahead. To signify that there will be a time involved, Jeremiah is instructed to bury the paperwork of the transaction in a clay pot so it will survive a long time. This is interesting because the captivity will last 70 years, and Jeremiah will actually by martyred in Egypt in just a short time. You might wonder where that pot is today and if those documents are still intact. Regardless, the word of the Lord came to pass, and even though the city was destroyed, in due time first Ezra and then Nehemiah come and the city and the temple are restored.
15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land. 16 Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, 17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee: 18 Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, [is] his name, 19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes [are] open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: 20 Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, [even] unto this day, and in Israel, and among [other] men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; 21 And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; 22 And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23 And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them: 24 Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest [it]. 25 And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, 27 Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? 28 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: 29 And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.
Have you ever faced devastating circumstances and wonder if you will ever recover? This is what happened to the people of Jerusalem. At this point they are despairing of any rescue and can see no hope lying ahead. Yet the word of the Lord is that houses and fields will once again be possessed in the city of Jerusalem, even though destruction comes. You may feel like you have suffered losses that can never be recovered, but as verse 27 affirms to us, is there anything too hard for God? Therefore God requires Jeremiah and may require of us to INVEST in our own deliverance, to pay forward our faith in the midst of loss and overthrow. This was a prophetic act that Jeremiah would not live to see the enjoyment of but nonetheless he obeys God – giving hope and faith to the people that one day things will get better and the city will be restored from the destruction that is about to take place.
One might ask, is all this destruction necessary? Could it not be avoided? How could God visit upon the line of David and the people of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah such suffering? This was never in the plan of God – but verse 23 tells us that from the day the people entered into Canaan with Joshua, right down to the day that Jeremiah pens these words that the people had done NOTHING of all that God had commanded. The verse states plainly that THE PEOPLE and not God have caused all this evil to come upon them. Now ask yourself – if you have gone through a difficulty, could you be honest and transparent enough to know, and admit that you brought it upon yourself? We tend rather to adopt convoluted understandings of God’s sovereignty by suggesting that though we didn’t deserve it, God has smitten us from some inscrutable higher purpose. There is very little, if any justification in scripture for this viewpoint, but it is widely applied because the opposite would to suggest that our transgressions have brought difficulty upon us and that would require us to repent and humble ourselves which human nature is very resistance to do.
31 For this city hath been to me [as] a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face, 32 Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching [them], yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. 34 But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. 35 And they built the high places of Baal, which [are] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through [the fire] unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. 36 And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; 37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. 42 For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. 43 And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, [It is] desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. 44 Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal [them], and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.
Because of the disobediences of the people, the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed. Because the people are so convinced of their own self-worth, Jeremiah specifies what the sins are that the people have persisted in, that have now brought such difficulty in their lives. They have built high places to Baal, and caused their children to go through the fire to Molech.
In our day we stand aghast at such things but what are modern equivalents of these transgression? The altar to Baal was not only in the high place but in the temple itself. Baal means “father” or “dominative father”. When people are hard pressed and cannot find solutions to problems around us, we tend to look to populist leaders with strong personalities to lead us to where we want to go. It would be good to remember the words of Zecheriah 4:6 that it’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord. For over 100 years, from Isaiah to Jeremiah the word of the Lord has been that God will deliver the people but they would not hear and as a result now face devastation. What is the warning for us? When we are under pressure, where do we turn? Are we trusting in ourselves, or in our own, chosen solutions? Or are we looking to God alone? The answer to that question, properly considered will expose for us the idols that may be set up in our hearts, that we can be tempted to chose over God Himself when things go badly for us in life.
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