The Prophets (08): Jeremiah 32 - Longterm Investment
The Structure - In the structure of Jeremiah, chapter 32 falls into the center of the “Book of Consolation” (chs. 30-33) which is centrally emphasized by the book. This center section begins with these words: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. 3 ‘For behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah’” (30:2–3). Repeatedly the Lord promises to “restore the fortunes” and bring them back into the Land (29:14, 30:3, 30:18, 31:23, 32:44, 33:7, 33:11, 33:26). Evidently these words of consolation came in the context of Jerusalem under attack and nearing destruction. These words would begin to be fulfilled 70 years after the exile when Israel was permitted to go back and rebuild Jerusalem by Cyrus (the Persian emperor who conquered Babylon, Ezr. 1).
The Setting - The episode in our text is an “enacted prophecy” which is an action which conveys a message, rather than a mere declaration of words. We have already seen this in Jeremiah’s visit to the potter (ch. 18) and in breaking earthen vessels in a field (ch. 19). Many prophets do this (Isaiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, and Jesus). In this case we have the action as well as many words of explanation. The setting is that Jerusalem is under sieged by Babylon. There was a lifting of the siege because the Egyptians were coming to support Judah. However, they never made it and the siege resumed (37:5). During that time Jeremiah purchased land from his cousin, Hanamel and made his way to Anathoth to see it. But he was accused of defecting, arrested and detained (37:11-14). Zedekiah certainly had reason to be against Jeremiah (32:3ff). Jeremiah was proclaiming his defeat; but Zedekiah did not listen to Jeremiah (37:2). Just at this juncture, when destruction was imminent, God provides a marvelous word of hope.
The Sign - Jeremiah had been preaching the defeat of Zedekiah and the destruction of the city (32:3ff). The siege began in December of 589 B.C. and the Babylonians had conquered by July of 586 B.C. There is indication that this episode of buying the land may have been very near fall of Jerusalem (32:24, 28). So why buy land that will be occupied? Uncle Hanamel was getting a very good deal of silver (useful in hard times) for some “beach front” property, just at a time when land is about to be out of everyone’s control. But the word of the Lord instructed Jeremiah to make this long-term investment as a word of consolation, despite the immediate judgment. That word of consolation is, “Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (32:15). Though Judah deserved this judgment (32:29ff), there is yet a future and hope. Jeremiah then praises the Lord: “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” (32:17). The further promise is that, “Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger . . . and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. 38 “They shall be My people, and I will be their God 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. 40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them …” (32:37–40).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more