Jeremiah 32:1-3, 6-15
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar--At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.
Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it?”
Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
It was the tenth year of Zedekiah, King of Judah. Zedekiah reigned for about eleven years in all. All of his reign coincided with the imperial reign of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had already invaded Jerusalem a decade earlier. He wanted to make sure that the people of Judah knew who was in charge. He took over Jerusalem around 597 BC. He took the temple treasure and desecrated it back in Babylon. He deported the young king, Jehoiachin, to imprisonment in Babylon. Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, was the emperor’s own choice to sit on the throne. It was supposed to be a puppet reign for Zedekiah. Nebuchadnezzar would leave one of the royal family on the throne, but Zedekiah was expected to do the beck and call of the emperor, be Nebuchadnezzar’s man in charge.
Who knows how Nebuchadnezzar decided Zedekiah should be his puppet king? He was a young member of the royal family, who had been destined to anonymity after two of his older brothers had already succeeded their father, Josiah, as kings. Jehoahaz had succeeded their great father when Josiah died in battle against Pharaoh Necho’s army. It was the beginning of the end. When the Pharaoh finished a failed invasion of Babylon, he stopped back by Jerusalem and took Jehoahaz prisoner. Another brother, Jehoiakim, was the Pharaoh’s choice for king. Jehoiakim reigned for over a decade, until the Babylonians stretched their imperial influence down into the land of Judah. Then his son Jehoiachin succeeded him, but not for long. That’s when the Babylonians put Zedekiah on the throne.
What a messy story the kingship of Judah had become after Josiah’s death. Josiah, one of the few kings that the Bible has praise for, had restored the temple worship to focus on the God of Moses and promoted the reading and study of the Torah, the written scriptures that have their origin back in the days of the Exodus. Much had happened since then, and many kings had turned to other gods. Josiah reversed that trend and sought to focus on the one true God. However, he seems to have made a fatal mistake when he decided to fight against his more powerful neighbor, Egypt, rather than simply standing by to let the big empires fight it out among themselves.
As you face the future, God will give you strength even in your weakest times. God will lift you up and give power when you faint. God will never fail us. While we may be unfaithful, God remains faithful. So go on down to Anathoth. Invest in the future, because God has big plans for us. There will be houses and fields and vineyards built and bought in this land. Thanks be to God.