Fields Shall Be Bought.

“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.

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson≠≠

1 Chronicles 17-18, Colossians 2

The Reign of Christ.

1 Chronicles 17-18, Colossians 2

I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever. – 1 Chronicles 17:13-14 ESV

David wanted to build a permanent structure in which to place the Ark of the Covenant. He desired to build a “house” or temple for God. But God let David know that He had more important plans for him. It was God’s intention to build a house for David, but in a metaphorical sense (1 Chronicles 17:10). The “house” God promised to build for David had to do with a kingly dynasty. “When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom” (1 Chronicles 17:11 ESV). This son, who would turn out to be Solomon, would fulfill David’s desire to build a temple for the Lord, and God promised to establish his kingdom forever. This is part of what is referred to as the Davidic Covenant. But we know that Solomon’s kingdom did not last forever. His reign ended poorly and God was forced to split the kingdom of Israel in half, dividing it between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Both of these nations would eventually end up in exile, and the city of Jerusalem would like in ruins for years, with no king ruling from the throne of David. And yet God had promised David concerning one of his heirs, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you,  but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:13-14 ESV). The writer of Hebrews quotes these very verses when speaking of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this portion of the covenant God had made with David. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs” (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV). Quoting directly from 1 Chronicles 17, the writer of Hebrews says of Jesus, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’?”

Jesus was to be the offspring of David whose throne would be established forever. David’s “house” would be everlasting in nature, in spite of the sins of Solomon, the split of the nation of Israel, the failure of its kings, the fall of Jerusalem, or the exile of the people of God. The gospels of Luke and Matthew both make it clear that Jesus was a direct descendant of David and the rightful heir to the throne. The writer of Hebrews, quoting from another Old Testament passage, writes, “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions’” (Hebrews 1:8-9 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

David’s kingdom was a foreshadowing of a far greater kingdom to come. David was a mighty warrior, but he cannot be compared to the One who will come at the end of the age and who will fully defeat the enemies of God once and for all. In fact, Paul reminds us that with His death on the cross and resurrection to new life, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15 ESV). Solomon was a wise king, but his wisdom is nothing compared with that of Jesus, the Son of God. Again Paul refers to Him as “God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3 ESV). David and Solomon were mere men who, in spite of their love for God and desire to live for him, were ultimately sidetracked by their own sin. But Jesus was sinless. He was the God-man, in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9 ESV). He “is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10 ESV). He is “the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19 ESV). Jesus Christ was to be the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. With His arrival on earth, Jesus would establish a different kind of kingdom, one that was of a spiritual nature. At His trial before Pilate, Jesus claimed, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36 ESV). When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king, He replied, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37 ESV). Jesus was and is the king God had promised, and His kingdom is everlasting and eternal. There will be no end to His rule or reign. In the book of the Revelation, we are given a glimpse into the future, when God will establish a “new heaven and a new earth” and “the holy city, new Jerusalem” will come “down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-3 ESV). And there in the new Jerusalem will be a throne, upon which will sit Jesus Christ, who will declare, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

So much of what we experience in our lifetimes is temporal and a mere shadow of what is to come. This world is not all there is and is not all it should be. There is still the presence and reality of sin. The enemies of God still exist and stand against the people of God. Satan still has a powerful influence over this world. But God is not yet done. As His children, we must constantly remind ourselves of this fact. We must not judge the success of God’s plan or the reality of Christ’s kingdom by what we see going on at any given moment. There is much that must happen before God’s plan is complete and Christ’s kingdom is fully established on this earth. David’s success as a king was completely dependent upon God. It was the Lord who gave him success and who made it possible for his kingdom to prosper. Solomon was given his wisdom by God. His kingdom was established by God. But both of these men would end up sinning against the very One who had set them on their thrones and given them their kingdoms. There is only one man who has lived His life faithfully in obedience and submission to God: Jesus Christ, the God-man. And Paul would remind us, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

I am to “walk in him,” which literally means to “conduct my life” totally dependent upon Him for everything. He is not only my source of salvation, but my means of sanctification. He is my strength. He is my source of righteousness. He is my model for holiness and my reason for joyfulness. We have been “made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Colossians 2:13 ESV). He has cancelled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14 ESV). We must hold fast to Him, who is the Head, “from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19 ESV). He must reign and rule over our lives, and we must live our lives in such a way that we reflect our citizenship in His eternal kingdom.

Father, may I continually learn to live as if Jesus is the literal king of my life. May my thoughts and actions reflect His rule and reign over my life. I want to live as if He is the one who is in control over my life. Don’t let me replace His rule with self-made religion or self-effort. I want to learn to submit to Him and willingly, joyfully obey His Lordship over my life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men