I suspect the people of Jeremiah’s day also struggled with hope. With the Babylonian army threatening their border, Jerusalem was a place with little to no hope. And yet the other half of Jeremiah’s message was to proclaim hope in the midst of that coming destruction. How could that hope be for real?
To teach His people that hope is real, the Lord told Jeremiah to do something crazy, as recorded in Jeremiah 32:1-15. In fact it was perhaps the most ridiculous move anyone could take – unless hope is true.
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
- Chronologically the events of chapter 32 belong with the events described in Jeremiah 37-38.
- The 10th year of Zedekiah is approximately 587 BC, the year before Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.
- The army of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, but lifted the siege temporarily to deal with a threat from the Egyptians.
- When the siege lifts, Jeremiah attempts to leave Jerusalem, but is accused of treason and placed in prison.
- While Jeremiah is in prison, King Zedekiah sends for him, hoping for a different message. But the King is hoping in the wrong things.
- Thinking humanity is capable of solving our problems without divine intervention is misplaced hope.
- The Lord tells Jeremiah his cousin Hanamel will ask him to buy his field located in Anathoth.
- In their culture, this is like declaring bankruptcy (Leviticus 25:25-31; Ruth 4:1-2). Hanamel is asking Jeremiah to bail him out of his troubles.
- Hanamel is asking for the ridiculous. This request islike asking someone to buy your property in Vienna when Hitler’s troops are already massed on the border. Given the proximity of the Babylonian army, Hanamel’s field is worthless.
- The Lord frequently instructs a prophet to do something to teach a message. See Hosea 1:2-3; Ezekiel 12:1-4, Isaiah 20:1-3
- Jeremiah buys field, making his purchase very public and legal.
- The practice of the day was to write a contract on papyrus, then fold the papyrus over several times and seal it. This sealed copy is the official copy.
- A second, unsealed copy was made and attached to it for review and reading. These are called “tied deeds.”
- Both the sealed copy and the unsealed copy are given to Baruch in the presence of witnesses. The copies were place in an earthenware jar so that they may be preserved for a long time.
- This purchase is a powerful affirmation of hope for the future. Jeremiah’s action only makes sense because God is going to restore Israel and the field will be valuable again.
- 1Peter 1:13: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
- Setting our hope on the coming kingdom of God brings clarity to our minds because we have set our hope on something that is truly valuable and unshakeable.
- If the hope of the gospel seems remote and vague, then we have lost sight of our real problem (sin) and its only solution (the cross).
The New Testament Sign
The Apostle Paul argues in Romans 5:1-11 that we too have a concrete action that displays our hope.
- Paul argues, If God loved us enough to die for us while we were his enemies, of course he loves us enough to fulfill our hope now that we’re his children.
- The action that proved hope to the people of Jeremiah’s day was Jeremiah buying a worthless field about to be destroyed by war to prove that God would redeem and restore.
- The action that proves our hope is real is Jesus death on the cross. If God loved us enough to die for us while we were his enemies, of course he loves us enough to fulfill our hope now that we’re his children.
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Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
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