“Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
“For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 32:36-44 ESV
When you find yourself in the midst of a difficult situation, it can be difficult to think of anything but what is happening at that moment. Yes, you may imagine yourself in better times and hope that your current circumstances improve. But the reality of your present conditions will always tend to overwhelm any dreams you may have of better days. That may be why God seems to keep repeating His message of restoration to Jeremiah and the people of Judah. Things had gotten progressively worse. At this point, Jeremiah had been imprisoned by King Zedekiah for stirring up trouble with his constant messages of doom and gloom. On top of that, the Babylonians have Jerusalem surrounded and under siege. And Jeremiah, in keeping with the command of God, has just purchased a tract of land in Anathoth, his home town, that has been captured by the Babylonians. At that moment, it would have been difficult for Jeremiah to see the silver lining on the dark cloud hovering over his head. So, God answers Jeremiah’s prayer and provides him with a personal reminder of what was going to happen in the future. It would be a reiteration of what He had already told Jeremiah before, but with a personal touch that answered Jeremiah’s concerns about his recent land purchase.
The opening line of God’s response to Jeremiah contains the word, “you”. But He is not speaking to Jeremiah alone, because the word God uses is a plural pronoun. He has a far greater audience in mind. It seems that everyone is in a pessimistic mood because of all that has happened. So, essentially God accuses Jeremiah and all the people of saying, “War, starvation, and disease are sure to make this city fall into the hands of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 32:36 NET). And they were right. The city was going to fall. God was going to give Jerusalem over to the king of Babylon. Babylonians forces would invade the city; destroy and plunder its finest homes and buildings; ransack the temple, then demolish it; and haul off thousands of its citizens as captives. But in the midst of all the bad news, God had some incredible and, albeit, difficult to comprehend good news. He was going to restore the fortunes of the people of Judah and restore the city of Jerusalem one day. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem fell. But 70 years later, just as God had promised, a remnant of the Jews living in exile in Babylon returned to the land. They slowly rebuilt and repopulated the city. They restored the walls and reconstructed the temple. And the various tribes and clans moved back to their designated homelands within Judah. This included the people of Anathoth. In the second chapter of the book of Ezra we are told that 128 men from Anathoth were among those who returned with the remnant. And God reminds Jeremiah, whose hometown was Anathoth, and whose recent land purchase was within the city limits of Anathoth, “Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 32:44 NLT).
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that Jeremiah would probably be long gone by the time this all happened. This promise of God would not be fulfilled for another seven decades. But God is assuring Jeremiah that his land investment would pay dividends. The deed of sale that he had placed in a jar and hidden away would be preserved and provide proof that the land was his. So, when the people returned to Judah and needed land in which to settle, Jeremiah’s descendants would have clear title to the plot of land that God commanded Jeremiah to purchase 70 years earlier.
Sometimes, the things God asks us to do seem ridiculous and without merit. They make no sense. His timing appears off. His request comes across as poorly thought out and sure to result in failure. But God always has a very good reason behind His will for us. His instructions are never spur-of-the-moment or impulsive. When God had told Jeremiah and the people of Judah, “For I know the plans I have for you, They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT), He had meant it. He did have a plan. He does have a plan. And His long-term plan is one for good, not evil. Yes, they were going to suffer for a time. They would meet with disaster, but God intended to follow it up with a future filled with hope.
Notice how many ties in the passage God says, “I will…”.
“I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury.” – vs 37
“I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.” – vs 37
“I will be their God.” – vs 38
“I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever…” – vs 39
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them…” – vs 40
“I will never stop doing good for them.” – vs 40
“I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.” – vs 40
“I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” – vs 41
“I will do all the good I have promised them.” – vs 42
“I will restore prosperity to them. I, the Lord, have spoken!” – vs 44
God will. Those two simple words should be burned into our hearts as Christians. The story found in the book of Jeremiah should remind us that God keeps His word. He does what He says He is going to do. The very fact that Jerusalem was surrounded and on the brink of falling into the hands of the Babylonians was proof that God’s word could be trusted. Everything He had said would happen had happened. But it is essential to recognize that God was promising to do something miraculous in the future. There was a flip side to His message of pending doom. There was also future blessing coming. And much of God’s promises to Judah, as outlined in the book of Jeremiah, have yet to be fulfilled. They are still pending. Yes, the people did return from captivity. The people of Anathoth returned to their hometown. The property Jeremiah purchased regained its market value. But the nation of Israel would remain without a king. They would be without a standing army and a warrior to lead it. They would be easy pickings to any nation that viewed their land as a potential colonial possession. That’s how they eventually ended up under the control of Rome.
And even today, while Israel enjoys its status as a nation-state, they are still waiting the fulfillment of God’s promise. Yet, God has given His word that, one day, the Messiah will return to the land of promise and enter the city of Jerusalem, where He will set up His kingdom and rule from the throne of David.
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! – Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT
Jesus fulfilled the first part of this prophecy when He came as a child in Bethlehem. But the second half of the prophecy will be fulfilled at His Second Coming. Back in chapter two of Jeremiah, God gave a prophetic word concerning the future state of Jerusalem.
“In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.” – Jeremiah 3:17-18 NLT
And the book of Daniel reveals another aspect of Jesus’ coming reign on earth.
I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 NLT
And Jesus would quote this very passage when referring to Himself and the final judgment of the nations.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” – Matthew 25:31-32 NLT
God is not done. His plans for His people are not yet complete. There is an end to the story and it will result in God fulfilling every aspect of His promises to His people. In the meantime, we must wait. We must endure. We must face the trials and difficulties that come with living in a fallen world. Jeremiah would have to watch his beloved city destroyed and his friends and neighbors taken captive. He would have to witness the destruction and desecration of God’s temple. But He had personal assurance from God that fields would one day be bought and sold again in Judah. And one day the Messiah will return.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.