TAKING RISKS FOR GOD
Holy Spirit, speak to me in fresh ways and make me attentive to your guidance—however it comes.
Read JEREMIAH 32:1-15
Jeremiah Buys a Field
32 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.
3 Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 4 Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians[a] but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.’”
6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’
8 “Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.’
“I knew that this was the word of the Lord; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels[b] of silver. 10 I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— 12 and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.
13 “In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 14 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May we have the grace to hear God’s call today and obey it.
God had promised his people that when they entered the promised land they would find cities and houses ready for them to inhabit, with vineyards and olive groves ready for them to eat the fruit.1 Amos subsequently turned this promise on its head, announcing the time soon coming when they would no longer inhabit the houses they had built, nor would they drink the wine from the vineyards they had planted.2 In this chapter, Jeremiah reverses Amos’ prophecy of disaster: ‘[after the exile] houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land’ (v 15).
Jeremiah was imprisoned for announcing that the besieging army of Nebuchadnezzar would capture the city and that king and people would be exiled. There he heard a word from the Lord that one of his relatives was coming to sell him a piece of land. It happened – and Jeremiah, recognizing that the Lord had spoken, bought the land and with careful attention to detail deposited the title deeds in a safe place.
Of course, nobody can take land away, it is always there, but as Amos had said, it can pass into the hands of others to enjoy its benefits. Jeremiah was so convinced that in time God would end the exile and restore the people to their land that he was ready to put his money where his mouth was and buy a piece of land,3 believing God’s promise that in time he would again enjoy the benefits of land ownership. It is one thing to say that we believe that God keeps his promises; it is quite another thing to take a risk like Jeremiah did by acting on those promises, even when, humanly speaking, the outlook looks bleak.
God calls us to take risks in faith. Can you take him at his word and trust him for the outcome, knowing that life is uncertain, but God is faithful?
Gracious God, I lift up to you those who are in refugee camps, who might feel no hope for the future today. With the loss, danger, and uncertainty that engulfs them, may they find reason to put their trust in you and find you faithful.
1 Deut 6:10–12 2 Amos 5:10–12 3 See John Goldingay, Jeremiah for Everyone, Westminster John Knox, 2015, p161–165
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