Every time I read the Word, I am reminded of God’s unrelenting love and His indescribable grace. In every season, and in every turn, He freely showers us with His greatest attributes. This morning I was reading in Jeremiah 32, and it was in this chapter, I was charged. I was encouraged. And I was reminded, faith isn’t really faith until it is put into action. I needed this. I needed to see this. I draw from His well, grasping hold of Biblical reminders of faith in action as I press forward in my own journey. I received that today. But it isn’t just a chapter of faith, this chapter offered so much more than one radical step for God. Jesus lives and breathes throughout this chapter and we are reminded of His deep love and passion for us.
Just as prophesized by Jeremiah, the king of Babylon’s army had besieged Jerusalem. Jeremiah was now in prison for preaching the very message God had told him to preach. He wasn’t necessarily put in prison for preaching, he was put in prison for the word he was bringing forth. It was a frightening message and it infuriated Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Specifically, Jeremiah prophesied that God was going to hand over the city to the king of Babylon and the king of Babylon was going to take it. Further, Zedekiah king of Judah was not going escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans. It was a grim fate for Zedekiah and he definitely did not like what he had heard, so he put Jeremiah in prison. Perhaps he convinced himself if Jeremiah was gone, the prophecy wouldn’t be fulfilled.
But here is where the story gets more fascinating. While Jeremiah was sitting in prison God had come to him to tell him that Hanamel, his cousin, was going to ask him to buy the field that was located in Anathoth, which sits about 3 miles north of Jerusalem. Hanamel was offering to sell the land based on the right of redemption – the land was to remain in the family and should be offered to Jeremiah.
Of course, this made no sense to Jeremiah because he knew that the city had been given into the hands of the king of Babylon and the city was on its way to total destruction. God had been telling him about the destruction and using him as a prophet to let everyone know of the impending doom. This type of purchase didn’t make sense to Jeremiah. The land was near destruction, burnt up, destroyed, unusable, worth nothing and would never have any value and it is likely that Hanamel knew this.
Jeremiah knew the prophetic Word of God and he understood this destruction that was upon them and around them and because of that, Jeremiah also understood that this transaction was absurd. Yet, God was telling him to do it anyway, and not only was God telling him to purchase the land, he told him to do it openly, in the presence of witnesses before all the Jews who sat in the court. In addition to all that, he told him to make sure the deed and details of the sale were well preserved so they could be read and understood by others in the future.
Everyone who witnessed this transaction most likely thought that Jeremiah had lost his mind. And, perhaps Jeremiah even questioned why God would have him do this. But ultimately, Jeremiah knew what God had said to him, “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land” and whether he could envision that, or not, he walked out God’s instructions in obedience.
I love this! Jeremiah trusted God, he believed in His promises, and words, but he also, along with the onlookers, thought this was an illogical transaction. The reality of what he saw around him, did not lend support for a hope for the land to prosper again, in fact, it was the opposite. But then God steps in, and His promises, faithfulness, and commitment to His people always trump what is seen.
Jeremiah was a man of faith and action. True faith requires movement from us; a movement that steps out in total and complete trust in His promises and that is never easy to do. That trust requires us to let go of what we see in front of us. In order to have unwavering faith, we need to let go of how we feel because feelings are usually misleading. We need to let go of any prevailing circumstances that consuming us. This, is the very essence of faith, letting go and truly, trusting in God.
I love this reminder of what faith looks like and the bigger steps I need to take, but what I love more is seeing Jesus in this passage in a way I had never seen. The city of Anathoth and every city surrounding Anathoth was worthless, useless, wasted, destroyed and uninhabitable; it was occupied by a destructive occupier. But God told Jeremiah to buy it for 17 shekels and so he did. God saw value in the land, a land that was worthless to everyone else. He put value on it and that value would come through His redemption.
God wasn’t done with the Israelites. Although they had become a people that continually turned their back on the one who delivered them, God’s intention was to restore them and their land.
The City of Anathoth at the time of the destruction is like us in all our humanness. As people, we have no redeeming qualities. We, like the land of Anathoth, are worthless, useless, wasted and uninhabitable for Jesus to live in; our occupier is sin and corruption. Yet, just as God found value in Anathoth, a wasted land that had no value, He found value in us, a hopeless, useless, and worthless people. Because of His great love for a rebellious people, He paid the price for our redemption.
The price that was paid was far greater than 17 shekels. The price for our redemption and salvation could only be paid through the blood of Jesus Christ. From a human perspective, this may have seemed like another foolish transaction, a Holy, unblemished, perfect, flawless, Jesus for a rebellious, evil, immoral, hardened people. From a Kingdom perspective, this was the only logical transaction.
I will never understand this act of love, but I am indebted to my savior forever. Just like God redeemed the land of Anathoth, and made beauty out of ashes He redeems us, and we are His treasure.