This week we’ve been looking at Jeremiah 32: 1-15; 36-44. We’ve talked about who the Biblical prophet was and we looked at the World Behind the Text for this part of Jeremiah. Today we are going to look at the World of the Text for this passage. What is actually happening here in Jeremiah?
The passage opens with Jeremiah confined in the court of the guard. In other words, he was in prison. Why was he in prison? Wasn’t he a prophet? God’s chosen spokesperson? Why was he in this place? He was there because he was doing what it was that God had called him to do. Now, what God had called him to do was very hard, something that would make him very unpopular among the leaders of the nation, by the king, by everyone. You can see how popular it made him, they threw him in prison!
What was this thing that he had done that made everyone hate him? He spoke the word that God had given him, which was basically this – you have broken my commands, you have not kept my law, and because of this, you will be punished. Babylon is coming. They will defeat you (and us, remember, Jeremiah is a member of the community) and will take our leaders into exile. Unsurprisingly, this is was not well received by the king. I mean, he is trying to fight a war and the prophet is saying – nope, it’s not going to end well for you.
Can you imagine the fear or pressure that Jeremiah must have felt? Imagine how much easier his life would have been if he just would have gone along with what the king wanted him to say or what the other prophets (the false prophets who only spoke what the king wanted to hear) had said. But he didn’t. He said what God laid upon his heart and then suffered the consequence for it.
And understand, Jeremiah was not happy about the word he spoke. There’s a reason he is called the weeping prophet. The destruction of his home broke his heart.
But here’s the thing about this passage, and why we are reading it this week before our time of commitment here at St. Matthew’s. In the midst of this coming destruction, Jeremiah’s cousin comes to him and offers to sell him a field. Families were required to do their best to keep their land in the family, so Jeremiah had the chance to “redeem” this land. Now, this may seem like the worst investment idea ever, to buy a desolate field, right as the enemy is about to conquer your country. But just as the Lord told him that Babolyn would destroy Jerusalem, the Lord also says, buy this field. For crops will be planted here again. I am not finished with you yet. The work of God is not yet done. There is more to happen, more to take place.
It makes no human sense to buy a field as the enemy approaches. It makes perfect sense in God’s kingdom. This is an act of faith, and the bible tells us that it is impossible to please God apart from faith. He buys this field. He has faith. He has commitment. He has trust.
No matter how dark it may look, Jeremiah has faith. It is so, so, easy to give up in the darkness. I also have. You probably almost have as well. But we keep walking. Because God is not done, even though the enemy is at the gate.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at what this passage can mean for us today.
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