Yet You, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans. Jeremiah 32:25
As I started to do some personal and ministerial vision-casting for the new year, I had one of those “God moments” as I went to my Bible. The casual flipping of the pages landed me in the Book of Jeremiah; in a passage I was somewhat familiar with but not as much as I’d like to be (Jeremiah 32). As I read this chapter, I found myself getting drawn into the context of what was happening to the prophet Jeremiah when these words were written. I also found myself taking that context and asking “Lord what would you say through this passage as it relates to us in 2023?”
To move forward today, I find it necessary to review what is happening as Jeremiah 32 unfolds. It’s 44 verses long, so I can’t cover it in its entirety. All I’m after is a high level view for this discussion. I’d recommend having it readily available and/or reading it on your own time. In this chapter, Jeremiah realizes the siege and captivity of his people is very near. He has told King Zedekiah, the king of Judah, the things that are about to take place. The Babylonians will capture the land and Zedekiah will be brought before the king of Babylon. These are prophecies the king doesn’t like to hear and in response, he puts Jeremiah in prison. The chapter begins here and then starts to take an interesting turn.
While in prison, Jeremiah is instructed to buy a piece of land, a field, from a close relative. This word came to him from the Lord saying he would be approached about this purchase and indeed, it happens. The deeds of purchase for the land are put in an earthenware jar, so “that they may last for a long time.” (Jeremiah 32:14). As Jeremiah sits in prison (in the “court of the guard”), his land purchase goes through and God brings this promise in verse 15: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.”
As Jeremiah contemplates all of this, I think he is understandably conflicted. In buying the land, is God somehow saying to him “You’ll have this one day for your own use?” We know the captivity took Judah out of the land. Further, we know Jeremiah never returned; from the Biblical record a smaller group escaped to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them, against his will (Egypt is most likely where he died). For the nation, 70 years had to pass (2 Chronicles 36:21); in fact, it was Jeremiah who prophesied this. So no, the land wasn’t directly for him or those in exile. But what was it for? More about that later.
As we walk through the rest of Chapter 32, we see Jeremiah’s prayer to the Lord (vs. 16-25) and the response of the Lord to Jeremiah (vs. 26-44). Jeremiah acknowledges that nothing is impossible for the Lord. He brought the people out of Israel and brought them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet the people rebelled. After possessing the land, “they did not obey [the Lord’s] voice or walk in [His] law.” (vs. 23) Jeremiah connects the siege works being constructed against Judah directly to the sin of his people. God responds by validating what Jeremiah has just said. It was the people’s sin that provoked Him to anger and to wrath. Worship of other gods, Baal and Molech, was an abomination to Him. The people have sinned and not turned from their ways. A righteous God must bring correction. He is in essence stating “Yes I am giving this land over to the Babylonians — they will siege it, burn it, destroy it.”
You might now be wondering, “Wow this is a strange way to start a new year’s post. Where’s the optimism, hope, and challenge for 2023? Where’s the vision being cast?” For a moment, I had that thought as well as I looked at Jeremiah 32. But it is where God led me in this chapter that helped make the rest make more sense. You see, there’s a promise contained in these verses…a promise that only God could make good on. It’s in vs. 36-44.
Here is where we see the phrase, “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (vs. 36) What’s the context of this oft-heard and oft-quoted verse? It’s in God bringing His people back to the land after the captivity in Babylon. It’s His promise of restoration, of an everlasting covenant. And we know this side of the cross, God has kept His promise.
Guys I don’t have a 3-point outline today like I normally do. I hope that my flow of thought from Jeremiah 32 makes sense and we can begin to make some deductions on our own. Is this passage for today? Is it for now? I believe so. Stick with me as I begin to wrap up here and unpack some things I believe we can carry into 2023 from this passage.
I believe in a similar fashion to Judah, we are living in a position of captivity. I’ve said before, I want to be careful not to just “copy and paste” Scripture from its original setting into our current day and time. But we are, in a spiritual sense, very much besieged. From within the church and without, there are influences of wickedness. Many are being led astray. And the prevailing culture is much like Babylon — a place without much love or desire for that which is holy. In fact, there is much disdain and hatred for it.
Yet just as Jeremiah was asked to buy the field, I believe we are being asked to buy it as well. Why? For several reasons. We are making an investment and a downpayment into the future. We, like Jeremiah, may not see the full extent of our efforts. In the midst of captivity, we can take a couple different postures. We can wait out our time on this earth, expecting and anticipating the Lord’s return while we hunker down and “stay safe.” Or we can be in the business of buying up fields, literally making down-payments for the future, while we wait. Truthfully, we may not be the generation that sees Christ’s return and it may not even be in the one to come.
How do I personally buy the field? My investment in 2023 is primarily to my own mission field right here in my home: my spouse and 5 kids. I’m convicted because I sense the Lord impressing on me the time with my kids is numbered. I have finite days, months, and years in which to pour into them. I want to make this time count and prepare them for the road ahead, hoping and praying they will take up their cross and follow Christ.
From there, my ministry is the additional investment. What I write and blog and record here on AS BOLD AS LIONS is part of the field I’m buying. I offer it for someone, anyone to stumble across and hopefully be influenced and changed. And as much as I’ve written for others to read and respond, I know God is using this ministry in my own walk — to draw me closer to Him and hear His voice more clearly.
So if I were to ask you, “What is the field God wants you to buy today?”, how would you respond? I think it’s important as we go into a new year to understand both the call and the promise. The call, which involves the investment, is our responsibility. It’s a response we decide to make or not to. The promise is God’s job. He is faithful and beyond Jeremiah’s day He made everything come true that He said would happen in Jeremiah 32. The promise to rebuild and restore was kept. Look at these words in verses 39-41:
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.
Are we willing to “buy the field” even if we do not fully understand? Even if we will not be able to see the outcome? Are we willing to invest knowing the generations that follow us will benefit because of the stand we took? I’m excited for 2023. Perhaps more excited for the next 12 months than any in recent memory. But I know it’s because the God of the promise is waiting at the end and if He tarries (and I’m still here), I will be able to look back at His faithfulness next December 31st.
I love you guys and would love to hear from you as you respond to this message. How can I pray for you? What are you facing in 2023?
God bless you!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17