THE CURRENT CRISIS AND THE CERTAIN CALAMITY CANNOT NEGATE GOD’S COVENANTAL CARE –
BUY THE LAND AND BURY THE DEED IN LIGHT OF FUTURE RESTORATION
This passage revolves around a simple real estate transaction. But this is an investment that requires tremendous faith on Jeremiah’s part in God’s covenantal faithfulness. An investment of 17 shekels (about 7 ounces) of silver for a plot of ground that would never benefit the prophet personally was a lot to ask in the midst of a current crisis where every resource was scarce and valuable. The decision to invest in God’s future redemptive agenda must be based on reflecting on God’s character and His previous works that have demonstrated His covenantal care.
This is true for the decisions that we make today. Are we going to trust God and Live for Eternity or are we going to walk by sight and limit our expectations of what our Omnipotent God can accomplish?
THE CURRENT CRISIS AND THE CERTAIN CALAMITY CANNOT NEGATE GOD’S COVENANTAL CARE –
BUY THE LAND AND BURY THE DEED IN LIGHT OF FUTURE RESTORATION
I. (:1-25) CURRENT CRISIS CANNOT CANCEL GOD’S REDEMPTIVE AGENDA
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD”
A. (:1-5) Review of Jeremiah’s Unpopular Prediction Regarding Current Crisis
1. (:1b-2) Prophetic Setting
a. (:1) Corresponding Date References
“in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.”
b. (:2) Circumstances
1) (:2a) Jerusalem Under Siege
“Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem,”
2) (:2b) Jeremiah Under Guard
“and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah,”
2. (:3-5) Prophetic Scenario
a. (:3-5a) Unpopular Narration of Future Events
“because Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, ‘Why do you prophesy, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD,’”
1) Capture of the City
“Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it;”
2) Capture of the King
“and Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but he will surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon,”
3) Confrontation Involving Intimidation and Humiliation
“and he will speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye;”
Adam Clarke: He shall be reduced to a state of the most abject servitude. The slave was obliged to fix his eyes on every motion of the master whilst giving his orders, who often condescended to give them only by dumb signs.
Guzik: quoting Trapp — This was no small punishment to Zedekiah, that he must look him in the face from whom he had so perfidiously revolted, even against oath; and hear his taunts, before he felt his fingers. How, then, will graceless persons do to stand before the King of kings, whom they have so greatly offended, at that great day?
4) Captivity in Babylon Controlled by the Lord
“’and he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him,’ declares the LORD.”
b. (:5b) Unpopular Negative Outcome
“If you fight against the Chaldeans, you will not succeed?”
B. (:6-15) Redemption of Field at Anathoth Provides Object Lesson for Hope in God’s Redemptive Agenda
1. (:6-8) Pursuing the Right of Redemption
“And Jeremiah said, ‘The word of the LORD came to me saying, Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it.’ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the LORD and said to me, ‘Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.”
Ray Stedman: This account suggests that the usual way God spoke to these prophets was the same way he speaks to us, i.e., through a vivid impression made upon the soul, an inner voice we are conscious of — saying something, directing us somewhere, informing us of something. We have all had this experience. We know what this inner voice is like.
Guzik: Anathoth was about three miles outside Jerusalem. With Babylonian armies surrounding Jerusalem, the enemy already occupied Anathoth. Jeremiah was offered the purchase of land that was already under Babylonian control.
Ron Dunn: See, either Jeremiah had to buy the farm or change his message. What Hanamel was actually saying was this… “put your money where your mouth is…put up or shut up…you say you believe that one of these days God is going to restore this land…alright, then you shouldn’t even hesitate about buying the farm…just prove it and back up your preaching with your pocketbook.” And that’s the theme of the whole story. . . Now I want to ask you tonight. Is there a farm that you’re hesitating to buy? Is there something God has called you to do that you’re hesitating to do? Are you fearful? Do you have doubt or uncertainty in your heart? If it’s not worth investing in, it’s not believing in. Sooner or later you are going to have to buy the farm. God is going to require it. God will not abandon you in the day of doubt and darkness…
2. (:9-10) Purchasing the Land
“I bought the field which was at Anathoth from Hanamel my uncle’s son, and I weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales.”
3. (:11-15) Preserving the Deeds for Future Development
“Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the sight of Hanamel my uncle’s son and in the sight of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, before all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard.”
“And I commanded Baruch in their presence, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time.’”
“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,
‘Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’”
Parunak: This is the first time we meet Baruch, Jer’s secretary. He is the person who took down Jer’s prophecies by dictation. We will see much more of him in coming chapters. Probably a scribe at the court, whom Jer met while in prison, and whose heart the Lord touched, making him available not only to help Jer but also to preserve his teachings for us.
Constable: Jeremiah instructed Baruch to store the documents in an earthenware jar, so they would last a long time. These jars were undoubtedly similar to the ones in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved and discovered two millennia later, still in fairly good condition. The jars were usually sealed with pitch. The Lord had revealed to Jeremiah that the Israelites would again buy and sell land in Judah. In spite of the imminent captivity, they would return to the land and resume life as usual eventually.
Thompson: If the practice was that of the Jewish community at Elephantine in Egypt in the late fifth century B.C., the contract was written out on papyrus and was then folded over several times, tied, and sealed. This was the closed official copy. An unsealed copy was attached to it for consultation… Similar ‘title deeds’ have been discovered in the Judean desert.
C. (:16-25) Reflections of Jeremiah on Nation’s Current Crisis in Light of God’s Person and Works
(:16) Introduction to Prayer of Jeremiah
“After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, then I prayed to the LORD, saying,”
Adam Clarke: And what a prayer! What weight of matter, sublimity of expression, profound veneration, just conception, Divine unction, powerful pleading, and strength of faith! Historical, without flatness; condensed, without obscurity; confessing the greatest of crimes against the most righteous of Beings, without despairing of his mercy, or presuming on his goodness: a confession that, in fact, acknowledges that God’s justice should smite and destroy, had not his infinite goodness said, I will pardon and spare.
1. (:17-19) Reflecting on God’s Majestic Character
a. (:17) Majestic Power Demonstrated in Creation
“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,”
b. (:18) Majestic Lovingkindness and Justice
“who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name;”
c. (:19) Majestic Wisdom and Omniscience
“great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;”
Parunak: (:17-24) – Confessing the Lord – Jer’s confession become more and more concrete in three steps from natural theology (the sort of thing one could learn form the heavens; Ps. 19 and Rom. 1:20), through biblical theology (a summary of the main attributes of God according to the Old Testament – His passion, power and plan), to experiential theology (evidence of God’s work in the events of human history).
Constable: God is wise and strong, fully aware of all that happens, and just in giving everyone what he or she deserves. This is a classic statement of how God judges: according to people’s deeds, what they really do rather than what they intend or promise to do. The basis of divine judgment is human works (cf. John 6:27-29; Revelation 22:12).
2. (:20-22) Reflecting on God’s Redemptive Works
a. (:20) Signs and Wonders in Egypt
“who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day.”
b. (:21) Signs and Wonders in Exodus from Egypt
“You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terror;”
c. (:22) Signs and Wonders in Possessing the Promised Land
“and gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
3. (:23-25) Reflecting on Present Calamity Due to Persistent Rebellion
a. (:23) Past Rebellion
“They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law; they have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have made all this calamity come upon them.”
b. (:24) Present Calamity
“Behold, the siege ramps have reached the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword, the famine and the pestilence; and what You have spoken has come to pass; and behold, You see it.”
Mackay: The siege ramps were mounds of stones and soil built up to the height of the city walls to permit access (6:6). The higher they got and the closer in they came, the more surely was the city’s doom sealed. Jeremiah is setting out the circumstances in which he is approaching God in prayer. The siege has almost been concluded: why now be told to buy a field?
c. (:25) Future Hope
“You have said to me, O Lord GOD, ‘Buy for yourself the field with money and call in witnesses’—although the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”
Parunak: After this confession, Jer finally brings up the matter that’s troubling him. In “thou hast said,” “thou” is emphatic. “Lord, you’re the one who brought the Babylonians here; you yourself can see that your prophecies have come to pass; in keeping with all of your attributes, the city is given into the hand of the Babylonians – yet you yourself have me out buying real estate!”
The prayer is not asking for anything. It’s just sharing with the Lord the confusion that Jer feels. He doesn’t even ask the Lord for an explanation, but in the next section, the Lord graciously gives him one, which unfolds the full meaning of the symbol that consists of Jer’s purchase of the field.
Kidner: It is a fine example of the way to pray in a desperate situation: concentrating first on the creative power (17) and perfect fidelity and justice (18-19) of God; remembering next his great redemptive acts (20-23a; to which the Christian can now add the greatest of them all) – and then with this background, laying before God the guilt of the past (23b), the hard facts of the present (24) and the riddle of the future (25)
II. (:26-35) CERTAIN CALAMITY DUE TO PERSISTENT PROVOCATION
“Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,”
Parunak: Outline of :27-44 — an initial statement (27), followed by three occurrences of “Thus saith the Lord” (28, 36, 42). Thus four sections in all.
A. (:27) Implication from God’s Sovereign Omnipotence:
Don’t Underestimate God
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
God has been directing Jeremiah to proclaim some very bold prophecies. When the rubber meets the road, God must demonstrate that He can come thru on these prophecies. Jeremiah must also maintain his faith in God and in the accuracy of his preaching.
Parunak: Application: We ought not to limit God’s sovereignty to the inanimate. There are many who gladly grant him control over the sun and moon, but who insist that man’s free will is beyond his control. And even those who understand his sovereign election sometimes fret about the actions of others. But our God does whatever he pleases, among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. We can trust him even with the human side of our problem, knowing that if the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, how much more the mind of the commoner.
Ray Stedman: Now, his problem is not the desolation of the city; it is the degradation of the people. I don’t think Jeremiah worried a bit about God’s ability to rebuild and restore this city. The thing that constituted a tremendous dilemma to him was that the city could not be restored unless the we were changed and cleansed and healed. That is where he stumbled because, remember, this man had been preaching to these people for forty years. For forty years he had poured out his heart to this people, declaring to them again and again the word of the Lord. And for forty years he had seen absolutely no sign of repentance — nobody turned, nobody stopped, nobody changed. The kings all refused his testimony. And though God faithfully supported his prophet again and again by causing his words to come to pass, nevertheless this people stubbornly resisted. Jeremiah says, “I don’t see how you can change them, God. They’re too stubborn.” Is that not our problem oftentimes? We say, “Oh, that person I expected to see changed is too stubborn. There’s no way he can change.”
B. (:28-29) Impending Destruction of Jerusalem
“Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will take it. The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city will enter and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses where people have offered incense to Baal on their roofs and poured out drink offerings to other gods to provoke Me to anger.’”
C. (:30-32) Inflaming of Divine Anger
1. Persistent Provocation to Anger
“’Indeed the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah have been doing only evil in My sight from their youth; for the sons of Israel have been only provoking Me to anger by the work of their hands,’ declares the LORD.”
Nothing but wickedness and evil works from their youth until the present day; no respite
2. Pervasive Provocation to Anger
“Indeed this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My wrath from the day that they built it, even to this day, so that it should be removed from before My face, because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they have done to provoke Me to anger— they, their kings, their leaders, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
Across the entire leadership: kings, leaders, priest, prophets
Across entire city of Jerusalem and southern nation of Judah
D. (:33-35) Insulting of Divine Righteousness
1. (:33) Obstinate Ignorance
“They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.”
2. (:34) Objectionable Impiety
“But they put their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it.”
Feinberg: The height of the nation’s impiety was reached when the people set up their idols in the temple of God himself. Their obscene symbols had been removed during Josiah’s reforms. But they were reintroduced in the years of apostasy after Josiah’s reign (cf. Jeremiah 7:30; 2 Kings 23:4, 6; Ezekiel 8:3-11).
3. (:35) Offensive Idolatry
“They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”
Parunak: (:33-35) draws our attention to three specific sins, at the level of the individual, the church, and the family.
1) 33, Individually, they have refused to learn from God, in spite of his patient and repeated efforts to teach and warn them.
2) 34, As a congregation of God’s people, they have defiled the temple itself with their abominations. They erected pagan altars even within the holy courts, and turned the worship of God into idolatry.
3) 35, Most terribly, they have perverted the family by sacrificing their children to pagan deities.
III. (:36-44) COVENANTAL CARE DEMONSTRATED IN FUTURE RESTORATION
“Now therefore thus says the LORD 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.’”
Parunak: (:36-41) – This section is chiastic: 37 and 41 deal with physical restoration to the land, while 38-40 focuses on the spiritual benefits of the new covenant. As we have already seen, the OT promises of the covenant bind geographic and spiritual restoration inextricably together. The NT makes the church the heir of the spiritual blessings, but the geographic ones await their fulfillment in the coming kingdom.
6 Demonstrations of Covenantal Care:
A. (:37) Regathering to the Promised Land for Safety and Prosperity
“Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety.”
B. (:38) Reunion for Personal Intimacy and Security
“They shall be My people, and I will be their God;”
C. (:39) Regeneration to Foster Heart-based Relationship and Righteousness
“and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.”
Longman: To fear God means to recognize one’s proper place in the universe. It is to acknowledge that there is a being who is greater than oneself; indeed a being who has the power of life and death. The emotion is not as extreme as horror, but neither is it as slight as respect. Closer than the picture of horror or respect is that of knee-knocking awe. Such awe would lead to good consequences for that present generation as well as those that succeeded them. The book of Proverbs describes the good consequences that come on the wise and their descendants, wisdom being described as fear the Lord and staying away from evil (Prov. 1:7).
D. (:40) Renewal of Lasting Covenant Bond
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.”
E. (:41) Rejoicing in Establishing and Prospering His People
“I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”
Adam Clarke: Nothing can please God better than our coming to him to receive the good which, with his whole heart and his whole soul, he is ready to impart.
Mackay: Not only will the people be joyful when the Lord intervenes to restore them (31:12-13); the Lord will derive pleasure form the new arrangements. . . The Lord’s pleasure is not just in bestowing good on them; he rejoices “over them” (NKJV), or on account of them. His reverent and obedient people are a source of pleasure to him, and so he delights in bestowing on them further tokens of his favour. This especially is seen in the security they enjoy in the land.
F. (:42-44) Resolve to Accomplish Redemptive Agenda
“For thus says the LORD, ‘Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them. Fields will be bought in this land of which you say, It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men will buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,’ declares the LORD.”
God promises He will accomplish all of this – despite how improbable it seems given the present dire circumstances;