Jeremiah 32.1-3a, 6-15
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord23 in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.
Lord came to me: 7Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.Jeremiah said, The word of the
Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14Thus says the
A text like this is hard for people like us. Jeremiah, a prophet before and during the time of the exile, buys a field. So what? Well, the Babylonian army, which has come to take possession of Israel and deport the Israelites, is camped on the field and is besieging God’s Holy City. Who would buy that field? It looks like a pretty bad investment.
Well, Jeremiah just got finished telling the Israelites (in chapter 31) all about God’s promise of a new covenant, of the law being written in people’s hearts rather than on stone tablets, of God’s unending love for the chosen people. But with God’s Holy City under siege, it must look like Jeremiah is nuts. Even Jeremiah must be wondering if he’s really hearing God’s word.
The next time God’s word comes, Jeremiah waits. When his cousin shows up and says exactly the words God said he would, Jeremiah “knew this was the word of the LORD.” And so he buys a field, a field with an army camped on it, and puts the deed somewhere where it will be safe “for a long time.” It’s going to be a while, but fields and houses and vineyards shall again be bought in the land. Jeremiah doesn’t just buy a field, he seals his life to the testimony he’s been giving, he invests in the hope he’s been preaching, he puts his money where his mouth is. This is not just a story of a field, it’s a story of hope calling out in the midst of national despair.
We may not be able to directly relate this story to our everyday lives, but thousands around the world can. On this day when we also explore the various mission opportunities and partnerships of RCLPC, perhaps this is a day when we pray for those who feel this despair, when we try to be in solidarity with those who need a word of hope, and perhaps, in so doing, find hope for the despair in our own nation and lives as well.