Guaranteeing the Future

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 32, “Guaranteeing the Future”

Shoppers love a good product guarantee, but wise shoppers also know that some guarantees are worth more than others.  It’s one thing for a company to promise a “lifetime guarantee,” but it doesn’t mean much if the company is headed for bankruptcy.  Good guarantees are those that will last, based upon promises that are sure.

God’s guarantees are the best.  When God gives a guarantee, His promises ARE sure.  God isn’t going to go out of business – God isn’t going to go back on His word.  When God promises something, God sees it through to completion.  That not only gives a lot of hope to Israel (our context for Jeremiah), but that gives much hope to us!  After all, the good work that God has begun in us, He will complete until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).  God does not leave His promises half-done or half-fulfilled.  Every promise of His will be fully fulfilled…of that we can be sure!

This is what is vividly illustrated in Ch 32 of Jeremiah.  In Ch 31, God had promised and described a new covenant that He would make with Israel.  God wouldn’t make it with just part of Israel, but all of Israel (northern AND southern kingdoms, reunited as one people).  When God brought this to pass, the law of God would no longer need to be written on tablets (as were the 10 Commandments) because it would be written on people’s hearts.  Everyone would know the Lord as THEIR Lord and God, and it would not need to be taught to them by another.  They would each individually know the Lord by faith.  Of course, this new covenant has already begun, and the Church experiences the firstfruits of it.  It has yet to come to true fulfillment, and will only do so in the Millennial Kingdom, when all of Israel dwells in all of the land promised it by God.

So the question becomes: how can Israel be certain of that promise?  God swore by His own power that it would come to pass.  That itself ought to be enough, but God goes further in that He gives His people a guarantee.  They could know they would see the fulfillment of the Kingdom in the future, because God would bring them back from Babylon in the relative present (after the 70 years of captivity were completed).  God gave Jeremiah an illustration of what that would look like in the form of real-estate.  What follows is an unusual financial transaction, but it points to something truly glorious: God’s guarantee of a future inheritance. 

BTW – this doesn’t just have application to Israel.  NT Christians have every reason to pay close attention to what God says to Jeremiah.  How so?  Because WE have also been given a promise of a future inheritance, and God has also given us a guarantee.  Our guarantee is different, but it is still based on the character and promise of Almighty God.  Because God promised it, we can be certain God will deliver it.

Jeremiah 32

  • Prologue & setting (vss. 1-5)

1 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 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

  • The last couple of chapters have not given us any chronological time reference, but Ch 32 does.  This happened “in the 10th year of Zedekiah…the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar.”  What do we know about this time?  Jerusalem was almost at the end.  There had been several waves of conquest by the Babylonians, and previous kings of Judah had been imprisoned or killed.  This would be the last wave, and Zedekiah was the final ruler of Jerusalem to officially sit on a throne.  (His successor Gedeliah was a governor; not a king.)  2 Kings 25 tells us that Babylon besieged Jerusalem from the 9th year of Zedekiah to the 11th year of his reign.  This particular word to Jeremiah would have come right in the middle of that time.  Babylon had already come through the land, conquered much of it, and now kept Jerusalem on lock-down.  A famine began at some point during the siege, and apparently by the 4th month of the 11th year of Zedekiah, things had gotten so bad that there was no food left for the people (2 Kings 25:2).  It’s uncertain at this point if the famine had yet begun, but no doubt things were tough and bleak.
  • In the meantime, Jeremiah had been imprisoned by the king, falsely accused of attempting to defect to Babylon (Jer 37:13).  Initially, Jeremiah had been cast into the dungeon, where he seemed even to lack for food.  Eventually, Zedekiah had him brought out of the dungeon, and placed in the “court of the prison,” still a prisoner of the king, but at least with access to food and other people.
  • Of course, the false accusation was just the excuse to “legally” persecute Jeremiah.  In reality, Zedekiah simply didn’t like what Jeremiah had prophesied and taught.  Vs. 3…

3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4 and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; 5 then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him,” says the LORD; “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed” ’?”

  • This isn’t a word-for-word quote that can be found in the writings of Jeremiah, but it certainly is the basic message of what Jeremiah repeatedly said.  Zedekiah heard Jeremiah accurately and understood; he just didn’t like what he heard & thus chose to rebel.  Perhaps he thought that if he could make Jeremiah miserable enough, that God would somehow change His mind regarding the prophecy.  Obviously God cannot be intimidated nor can He be bought off and bribed.  It didn’t stop Zedekiah from trying.  He didn’t like the prophecy, so he persecuted the prophet.
    • This is the same way persecution works around the world.  People don’t like the message Christians have to say, so they persecute the messengers.  It’s not that they necessarily have a problem with us as people – after all, if we agreed with them, they would leave us alone.  Radical Muslims often give people an opportunity to convert and live.  It’s when people refuse to bow in submission to them that the militants torture and kill them (as is the case with ISIS/ISIL and Christians in Syria & Iraq right now).  They hate the truth of Jesus Christ, and they hate the God of the Bible, and thus they take out their hatred on those who follow Jesus Christ in faith.  As Jesus said, the world hated Him first, and thus the world hates us, too. (Jn 15:18-19) 
    • PRAY for persecuted believers around the world!  What Jeremiah experienced is what untold numbers of Christians experience every day.
  • What was it that Zedekiah didn’t like?  Jeremiah’s message of certain defeat.  God promised that Zedekiah would “not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans,” and that he would see the king of Babylon with his own eyes as he was led to Babylon.  Zedekiah would have preferred a more optimistic prophecy, but there was none to give.  Jeremiah had been absolutely faithful to the word God had given him, and he could not add to it, nor take away from it – no matter what the personal cost might be.  (Likewise we are to be faithful with the gospel, no matter what!)  For Zedekiah, everything that Jeremiah taught came to pass.  The king of Judah did indeed see Nebuchadnezzar with his own eyes, right before Nebuchadnezzar killed Zedekiah’s sons and blinded Zedekiah.  Then he was chained and led off to Babylon (2 Kings 25:6-7).  Zedekiah might have resisted the word of God, but he couldn’t alter it.  The far better thing for him to have done was to humble himself before God in true repentance and faith, and leave himself in the hands of God.
  • In any case, all of that is the background.  Babylon has come into the land, most of the kingdom is conquered, the prophet of God is in prison, and Jerusalem is on the brink of falling into ruin.  This would seem to be the absolute wrong time to purchase real estate, but yet that’s exactly what God has Jeremiah do.  Vs. 6…
  • The purchase (vss. 6-15)

6 And Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.” ’

  • Obviously this was a pretty unusual situation, so God prepared Jeremiah in advance of his cousin’s visit to let him know what was going to happen.  Jeremiah was originally from Anathoth (1:1), and this was land belonging to his family.  We’re not told the reason why Hanamel (or Shallum) was selling the land – if he had sold it to someone else to pay a debt, he had a duty to attempt to redeem it himself.  If he could not pay (for whatever reason), that is when he could appeal to a close family relative to redeem the land (purchase it back).  The ownership would transfer away from the original owner, but at least the land stays with the family, thus honoring the covenant agreement with God.  [Basis for the book of Ruth]
  • Again, this would seem like a foolish purchase in the eyes of the world.  After all, Anathoth had already been overrun by the Babylonians (proven by the fact that Babylon was currently surrounding the walls of Jerusalem besieging it).  Add to this the fact that Jeremiah is in prison, with little hope of being set free in a still-viable Jewish kingdom.  What exactly would be the motivation for someone to purchase real estate that they have no hope of personally possessing?  Yet this is what God prepared Jeremiah for.  Surely an unusual word like this would be confirmed, right?  It was…

8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.

  • Everything came to pass exactly as God told Jeremiah that it would.  God never lies, nor is He ever mistaken.  If He tells us something, we can be sure that it will come to pass.  If it doesn’t, then what we heard was not from the Lord God.  Some people offer all kinds of “prophecies” that have no way of being confirmed, nor do they match up with anything that God has already revealed through the Scripture.  Beware!  God does ask us to step out in faith, but God also confirms His word through Scripture and reality.  We can be certain that what God says, God does.
  • Jeremiah had the confirmation that he needed and proceeded with the sale…

9 So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. 11 So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; 12 and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison.

  • From a historical viewpoint, these verses are pretty important, in that this is the only description in all of the OT Scripture of how these kinds of financial transactions took place.  Money was weight-based (instead of coin-based), so the proper amount of money was “weighed out,” and handed over.  The “purchase deed” was signed & sealed, and everything was done in public (at least as public as possible, considering Jeremiah’s imprisonment).  Nothing was done behind closed doors – everything was done in full view of witnesses in order that there would be no future misunderstanding or false claims.  (BTW – the more transparent accountability we have, the better!  We ought to live our entire lives in such a way that it holds up under the scrutiny of others.)
  • What happened physically and materially with Jeremiah is what happened spiritually with us at the hands of the Lord Jesus.  Just as Jeremiah had the right to redeem the family land, Jesus had the right to redeem us.  We had sold ourselves into the slavery of sin, and we were condemned there by the law.  That was the deed that left us in our state.  So what did Jesus do?  He made a public transaction to purchase us when He died upon the cross.  That was the debt that WE owed (because the wages of sin is death), and that was the price that HE paid.  He redeemed us – purchased us – bought us with the price of His own blood, and after three days in the grave, He rose again to claim His rightful purchase. He now gives us life, because He has the legal (and even financial) right to do so.  There are thoughts that Jesus even receives a deed: perhaps the 7-sealed scroll that is handed to Him in the book of Revelation.  The bottom line?  We have a Redeemer: Christ the Lord! 

13 “Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, 14 ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.” 15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” ’

  • Jeremiah had purchased the land, and he had a deed proving his ownership.  Now that deed needed to be preserved.  After all, it would be much time before Jeremiah would ever be able to claim his right of ownership.  So he has his assistant Baruch (mentioned for the first time here) put the papers in a clay pot to preserve it “many days.”  How long?  A minimum of 70 years!  (29:10) Jeremiah knew decades would pass, and if he or his descendants were to claim the land, he needed the paper (papyrus or leather, etc.) to last that long.
    • BTW – earthenware vessels have proven to be very effective at preserving ancient documents.  The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in none other than earthenware vessels, buried in a cave.
  • Of course God had told Jeremiah why this was necessary.  One day, deeds would once again be necessary within the land of Israel.  The land would not always be under the rule of Babylon; the people of Israel would return.  Thus the purchase deed of Jeremiah serves as a visual aid of the future promise of God.  Because even the imprisoned Jeremiah bought land in Israel, there was a hope for everyone to one day return to the land.
  • That much was clear up front, but we can imagine that Jeremiah had questions about this.  God told the prophet what the purpose of the purchase was, but Jeremiah (like any of us) had trouble with it sinking in.  After all, this seemed so far off & incredible.  Obviously God can do anything (as Jeremiah will affirm), but Jeremiah doesn’t have a clue how God will do it.  This left him confused, and thus he turned to the Lord God in prayer…
  • The prayer (vss. 16-25)

16 “Now when I had delivered the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying:

  • Before we get to the prayer itself, note the action that took place first.  Jeremiah completed the purchase, and “delivered the purchase deed” to his assistant, exactly as God instructed him.  Jeremiah may not have fully understood everything God was doing, but he didn’t let that stop him from being obedient.  He obeyed first, and THEN asked his question of God.
  • How important it is for us to learn the same lesson!  When God gives us something to do, it might seem unusual – but what is NOT unusual or uncertain is the expectation of God for us: obedience.  God told Noah to build an ark in the middle of a desert in a place that had seen no rain.  No doubt Noah had questions, but he obeyed.  God told Abram to leave his country and to go to a land that God would show him.  It was unusual, but Abram obeyed.  God told Moses (from a burning bush, no less!) to go to Egypt and command the most powerful ruler on earth (the one from whom Moses had fled) to free the Hebrews.  Again, Moses had his initial doubts – but he quickly made the choice to obey the Lord.  And the examples could go on.  The disciples were called to follow Jesus, and leave their families behind – they obeyed.  Saul was confronted by the very God he persecuted, and he obeyed.  God often calls people to take a step of faith, and it’s not unusual for people to have questions.  There’s nothing wrong with our misunderstandings.  There’s nothing sinful about having questions for God.  There IS something wrong with disobedience.  Too often, we want our own questions answered before we’re willing to step out.  “Why should I actually forgive him/her?  Don’t You know what they did?” “Why should I trust You with that decision?  I want to decide that for myself.”  “Why should I pray about this?  What good will prayer do?”  If God told us everything up front, faith wouldn’t be faith.  We need to be willing to trust God first and obey Him despite our confusion (like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego).  When we obey Him first (which proves our faith and trust), then we might just find that God reveals His answer along the way.
    • Q: “What if He doesn’t?”  A: You might just find the answer doesn’t really matter anyway.  Far better than having our curiosity satisfied is to have an unbroken intimate relationship with the Living God.  And that’s something we can only know when we’re willing to trust Him by faith.
  • Jeremiah does have a question for God, but he doesn’t lead off with his question.  Instead, he spends time praising God, and proclaiming God’s worth and glory.  (A good model for all of us when we go before the Lord in prayer!)  Vs. 17…

17 ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

  • First, God has “great power.”  God is unlimited in His abilities.  There is nothing beyond His power.  The God who created the heavens and the earth by His sheer will certainly is able to accomplish anything else He so desires.
    • This is one of the prime reasons that Genesis 1 is so important!  The Bible begins with the account of God creating the universe for the reason of establishing His ever-existence & His unlimited power.  The God that creates even light itself is certainly capable of bringing the dead to life.  If we believe Genesis 1, then we have no issue believing anything else the Bible claims God can do, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All the proof we need of the unlimited power of God is the creation that currently exists all around us.  A God that can do THAT can do anything!
  • As for Jeremiah, this is a reminder that God is powerful enough to work beyond Jeremiah’s own limited understanding.  God had asked him to do something truly unusual, with the whole idea being that Israel would one day be back in the land conducting business as usual.  How would it all work?  Jeremiah didn’t know, but he knew the God for whom all things are possible.  If anyone could make it happen, God could.  There is nothing too hard for Him.
    • What has God promised that seems impossible from your point-of-view?  The future resurrection – eternity – perhaps even forgiveness from certain sins, of which you cannot even forgive yourself?  Nothing is too hard for God.  God can do it all.  What God promises, God does…and He has the power to back it up.

18 You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them—the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

  • Second, God has great character.  Not only does God have perfect power, He is perfect in His person.  His loyal-love/merciful covenantal “lovingkindness” (chesed) extends to His people.  (“Thousands” does not indicate a limit on the mercies of God; it is a way of expressing how it extends to multitudes upon multitudes.)
  • Not only is God merciful, but He is righteous.  He does not hesitate to “repay the iniquity of the fathers.”  This is not a contradiction of His mercy, but simply another aspect of His perfect character.  A God who is purposefully blind to sin is not a “good” (as in morally good) God.  If God is indeed righteous, then His righteousness will be demonstrated through both His mercies AND His justice.
    • That’s exactly what comes together in the cross of Jesus Christ.  The full weight of God’s justice fell upon the shoulders of Jesus, but the grand mercies of God extend to all the world as we are invited to be saved.  The justice of God makes the mercies of God possible.

19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.

  • God is not just only among Israel, but among all the world.  God sees “all the ways of the sons of men.”  Israel is obviously the focus of the majority of OT prophecy, but the rest of the world is not off-the-hook simply because they are not physical descendants of Abraham.  God sees ALL people, and ALL people have sinned.  ALL people will one day stand before their Creator God and be called upon to give an account for their lives.  The books will be opened, and all those who have not received Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be judged according to their works (Rev 20:12), which is exactly what Jeremiah affirms here.  People are to be judged “according to the fruit of [their] doings.”  People are never saved by their own works (because there is nothing people can do to save themselves), but they ARE judged by them.  Every single lie – every single act of dishonor – blasphemy – thought of hatred, etc. – each one carries a death sentence in itself.  And each one will have to be accounted before the awesome throne of God.  (Praise God for the offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ!)
  • Jeremiah could affirm God’s power and character in his prayer.  And it wasn’t simply a matter of personal faith, but of national history.  Jeremiah could look back at the history of Israel and see how God demonstrated Himself to His people.  Vs. 20…

20 You have set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, to this day, and in Israel and among other men; and You have made Yourself a name, as it is this day. 21 You have brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror;

  • God demonstrated His power in the exodus from Egypt.  All kinds of “signs and wonders” had been done.  By the time Israel had arrived at Mt. Sinai, there could be no doubt that it was the Lord God Himself that had personally freed the Hebrews.  The waters turned to blood – the plagues came of frogs, locusts, darkness, and more – even the angel of death passed through the land, killing the firstborn of every home that had not been covered with the blood of the sacrificial lamb…and all of that had all taken place before the parting of the Red Sea, and the pillar of cloud and fire that led them through the wilderness.  The power of God was inescapable!  God had demonstrated Himself in incredible ways to His people.  (Which makes it all the more amazing that so many Hebrews rebelled against God.)

22 You have given them this land, of which You swore to their fathers to give them—“a land flowing with milk and honey.”

  • In addition to the exodus was the conquest.  God had promised the land of Canaan to the children of Israel, and that is exactly what God delivered to them.  God demonstrated His faithfulness in abundance.  Centuries earlier, God had sworn to give this land, and God is always faithful to His word.
  • BTW – remember that this is all the prayer of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knows the truth of God’s power and faithfulness; he doesn’t question it at all.  But that didn’t mean he never had any questions.  Sometimes we can know the truth and still not quite understand everything.  It’s OK to bring those questions to God.  Some people are afraid to question God at all, as if God will somehow yank away their salvation because they had the temerity to ask God about something.  No Christian need fear such a thing!  God loves you, and God is more than able to take your questions (even if we don’t receive an immediate answer).  The important thing is simply to approach God in prayer in the first place!  Have faith in God; He will lead you through the rest.

23 And they came in and took possession of it, but they have not obeyed Your voice or walked in Your law. They have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have caused all this calamity to come upon them.

  • Jeremiah continues through Hebrew history in a grand summary.  God was the One to have been powerful and faithful.  He gave the land just as He promised; it was Israel who had not been faithful.  They had not “obeyed.”  They had consistently rebelled against God, and Jeremiah knew it well.  The Israelites had well-earned the punishment of God, which God was faithful to bring upon them…

24 ‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! 25 And You have said to me, O Lord GOD, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ ”

  • This the reason for Jeremiah’s confusion.  He knew that the Babylonian conquest was of God.  He knew that the Babylonian conquest was at hand.  Obviously God could do anything, but why did God ask Jeremiah to buy land NOW?  Had God changed His mind?  Would He relent & drive back Babylon as He did with the Assyrians?  Allowing the Babylonians to come in was the righteous judgment of God, but had God decided something different?  Ultimately, Jeremiah didn’t understand the purpose of the purchase.  Why get a guarantee of something that he thinks he will never see?  Perhaps God was doing something different than what Jeremiah could understand.
  • That was his question – and God was faithful to provide the answer…
  • The promise (vss. 26-44)

26 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

  • The first way God answers is by basically quoting Jeremiah back to Jeremiah.  Yes, God IS mighty in power!  God DID create the earth, and there is nothing too hard for Him to do.  Jeremiah could trust that God was at work, and that God had more than enough power to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.
  • Again, there is nothing impossible for the Lord God.  Remember that Jeremiah’s God is OUR God.  There is nothing too hard for our Jesus!  What is there that we hesitate to take to the Lord in prayer?  What is it that we secretly believe is too hard to achieve, and that God would never do?  Beloved, pray!  Take it to the Almighty God in prayer.  God may or may not do it, according to His perfect will, but let there be no doubt that God CAN do it.  Nothing is too difficult for Him!  If we do not see the answer to our hearts’ desires, it is not because it was too hard for God to work out…it may be because we never bothered to ask Him in the first place.

28 Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it.

  • After establishing His power, God affirms His promise.  Yes, the Babylonians were at the gate of Jerusalem, and this was exactly according to the word and the will of God.  He had not changed His mind on the matter.  Jeremiah may not have understood exactly what God was doing through it all, but he could be sure of this much: Nebuchadnezzar would come.  Vs. 29…

29 And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger; 30 because the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth. For the children of Israel have provoked Me only to anger with the work of their hands,’ says the LORD. 31 ‘For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day; so I will remove it from before My face 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

  • God was not relenting from His punishment of the Jews for a good reason: they had provoked Him in abundance.  From the very foundation of the city of Jerusalem (even under the Jebusites), the people of the city had provoked God time and time again.  Everyone from every class of citizen had sinned against God.  As Paul pointed out about all humanity, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
  • When God is repeatedly provoked over the course of centuries, eventually there must be a response.  Again, a truly just God cannot overlook evil.  There must be an answer for sin, and there always is.  For Judah, the temporary judgment was the Babylonian invasion.  For us, the permanent judgment was the cross of Jesus (or eternal hell for those who reject Him).

33 And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction.

  • Although God had been provoked, it wasn’t as if He judged the people too quickly.  He gave them repeated opportunities to repent from their sin.  He steadfastly reached out to them, giving them “instruction,” extending to them His mercy.  It was their choice not to listen.
  • How many times did we do that with God ourselves?  How many times did we each individually have to hear the gospel before we finally responded in faith?  Thank God that He continued to reach out to us!  Yet every person eventually comes to a limit.  God is gracious and He gives multitudes of opportunities, but there eventually comes a point where no more opportunities are given.  Beware that you do not push God to the limit!
  • The Hebrews did.  Vs. 34…

34 But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. 35 And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’

  • The defiled the temple with idolatry.  Worse yet, the kind of idolatry in which they engaged went so far as to include human sacrifice.  The worship of Baal was bad enough, generally involving some form of fornication.  The worship of Molech included burning children alive.  It was horrendous, and it was done by the very people who had been called by God’s name.  God could not allow this to go unanswered!  Perish the thought that God would ignore that kind of evil.
  • Beyond that, perish the thought that God might even command this kind of evil, which was the excuse that some people apparently gave.  They claimed that God told them to commit this kind of abomination, yet God never did such a thing.  As God said, it did not “come into [His] mind that they should do this abomination.”  This was not a command of God; it was a twisting and perversion of the command of God.  This is exactly what God told them NOT to do, but they did it anyway.
    • BTW – this is not a practice limited to OT Hebrews.  People today claim that God tells them to do all kinds of things that He never once commands.  They say, “I know the Bible says otherwise, but I prayed about it, and God told me to get this divorce.”  “I prayed about it, and God told me to get this abortion.”  No, He did not.  He absolutely did NOT command it, because He never commands anything that contradicts His revealed word.  If you “prayed” about a certain sin and you believe that God gave you permission to do it, then pray again because you certainly did not hear from God.

36 “Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence:

  • It’s a bit of repetition from the Lord, but it summarizes His answer to Jeremiah thus far.  No, God did not change His mind regarding Babylon.  He would indeed bring them in and deliver the land of Judah in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.  They would suffer “sword, famine, and pestilence.”  That much was assured.  But that wasn’t the ONLY thing that was assured.  The whole point of the land purchase was to demonstrate that God promised something else in addition.  Vs. 37…

37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.

  • God promised to take them out, and God promised to bring them back in.  The promise of judgment was only HALF of God’s plan.  There was also a promise of restoration.  In fact, the fulfillment of the first half actually gives evidence and hope for the second half.  Think about it: as awful as the Babylonian conquest was, this was something that had been specifically promised by God.  Now Babylon had besieged Jerusalem, and all of the previous prophecies of Jeremiah were coming true right in front of their eyes.  Thus, God was true to His word.  If God was true regarding THAT, why couldn’t they trust God regarding something much BETTER?  God had promised judgment, and it came.  God ALSO promised restoration – and they could trust that it would come as well.
  • Notice also that there is a two-fold aspect to the prophecy of restoration.  Yes, God would “bring them back to this place,” from wherever they went into the world.  But that wasn’t all.  God would also “cause them to dwell safely.”  To some extent, that could be said of the immediate return from Babylonian captivity, in that the Persians ensured the safety of the Jewish refugees and paid for the rebuilding of the temple.  Yet it cannot truly be said that Israel had from that point been able to dwell in safety.  Nehemiah could not even rebuild the wall of Jerusalem without threats from the outside – much less the repeated battles that would yet take place from the Alexandrian empire (the Greeks), the conflicts between the Seleucid & Ptolemy empires, the Roman empire, and others.  Just to look at today’s headlines is to know that Israel does not yet “dwell safely.”  They are IN the land, but they are not yet secure there.  But they WILL be.  This is a future promise, looking forward to the future kingdom.  When Jesus institutes the Millennial Kingdom, there will be no threat against Israel that He will not address.  Only at that time will they truly dwell in safety.
  • The Millennial Kingdom is described further…

38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.

  • During those days there will be true revival and restoration, unlike anything the Jews have seen in their history.  They will know Jesus as their Messiah, and they will once again know God as their God.  They will “fear” (reverence) the Lord God, worshipping Him rightly, and they will do so “forever.

40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’

  • The “everlasting covenant” is the same new covenant spoken of in Ch 31.  The law will be “in their hearts,” and they will always know God, never again departing from Him into abomination and idolatry.  They will worship God wholeheartedly, and God will “rejoice over them” wholeheartedly.
  • Have you ever considered the fact that God rejoices over YOU?  Keep in mind that although this new covenant is described specifically for Israel in the future, this is the relationship we currently enjoy with the Lord Jesus!  We do not wait for the day that the law is in our hearts, and God is our God – this is something that every single born-again believers experiences through Christ right now.  That means that God rejoices over us.  US – the former sinners, blasphemers, Gentiles, lost, etc…God rejoices over us.  That is amazing grace!

42 “For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.

  • God reiterates the two-fold promise.  He did promise calamity, but He also promised good.  He was being faithful to BOTH promises. 
  • And that was the whole purpose of the land purchase.  It illustrated the good promises of God yet to come…

43 And fields will be bought in this land of which you say, “It is desolate, without man or beast; it has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.” 44 Men will buy fields for money, sign deeds and seal them, and take witnesses, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South; for I will cause their captives to return,’ says the LORD.”

  • Soon, the fields would be desolate, but it wouldn’t always be that way.  In the long-term, there was a promise of an eternal kingdom.  But even in the short-term, God would bring back His people.  Commercial trade would once again take place, and the Jews would be Jews in the land of Judah.
  • So why the land & deed?  It was a guarantee of a future promise.  Jeremiah could buy land because the land would not always belong to the Babylonians.  It would once again belong to Jews, and the families of Israel that once dwelt in the land would dwell there once again.  And even THAT return was the guarantee of a promise much further in the future: the Millennial Kingdom.  If God could bring His people back to Israel once, no doubt He could do it again.  If God could create the world, no doubt He could create a Kingdom.  If God was faithful to one covenant, no doubt He would be faithful to a new and better covenant.  What God promises, God can do.

Conclusion:
That’s all Israel, but what about us?  Remember that we have also been purchased – redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  We belong to Him, and He owns the “title deed” over our lives.  He has given us the promise of an eternal future with Him.  How can we be certain?  Because He has also given US a guarantee!  We do not have a physical deed of a physical home, but we have a spiritual guarantee of an eternal home: the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:13–14, "(13) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."  We can KNOW that we will forever be with Jesus because He has given us the Holy Spirit.  God the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and empowers us, and gives us the assurance that we indeed belong to God.  He is the Spirit of adoption, who cries out “Abba Father” from within us, giving us the confidence we need as children of God. 

Do you lack the assurance you need as a child of the Risen King?  Have you wavered on the promises of God in your life?  Have faith in God!  Look again to the guarantee that you have been given in the Holy Spirit, and know that everything God has promised is true.  What God has said, God will do.

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