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Investing in the promises of God

Notes & Transcripts

Investing in the promises of God

“I knew that this was the word of the Lord; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel

                                                                        Jeremiah 32 8b 9a

We discovered in our study on Wednesday that Jeremiah was a man who lived his ministry – that what he said was inextricably linked with his life and the one informed the other.   When, faced by great odds and an unresponsive audience, he began to despair and even accused God of trapping him – then God showed him how great He is and Jeremiah was strengthened to continue.   Much of what he experienced – like his visit to the potter’s workshop – became full of significance for him and his message.

In this chapter Jerusalem is facing its final days. The city is under siege by the Babylonians.  It was “the tenth year of Zedekiah and the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.  The army of the kind of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard…” (v2)

These were desperate times and at such times he was criticised by Zedekiah for undermining morale and prophesying the fall of the city.

“You say, This is what the Lord says…”

How Jeremiah must have wished that he could bring a message of hope and relief for the people – but he could not: the message he had from the Lord remained the only word he could preach.   No one would ever fault Jeremiah for changing his message to suit the times!

These are desperate times – Jeremiah is in prison and the city is besieged!

On another occasion he will be confined in a cistern (38:6) and threatened with death (26:8) – yet despite these threats he remained steadfast.

 

This chapter which presents Jeremiah buying a piece of land even as the besieging nations are about to take over the country presents an insight into the personal integrity, faith and obedience of the prophet.   But it also reveals his doubts and misgivings.

The work of God that He gave Jeremiah to do involved not just a faithfulness in matters of utterance – but in his own personal risk taking.

I am the last person to whom anyone should come for financial advice!  I have very little understanding of the mysteries of economics.   I know what it means to lose investments when the market crashes, or when money has been invested by unscrupulous people.  I have had quite a lot to do with the likes of liquidators and so on – but I do not understand the underlying principles.

Yet even I know that it is a ridiculous idea to buy a parcel of land at a time of war – when the land is about to be taken by enemies.   Yet here an imprisoned prophet buys a field: he makes an investment in the promises of God!  He demonstrates his deeper faith in the covenant making God by buying the land that it was his right to redeem.

What kinds of risks will you take with God’s promises?

Like Abraham before him, Jeremiah hears the promise of God – and he doesn’t just pass it on to the people (after the defeat of Jerusalem I will bring them back…) he actually spends money on a plot that is soon to be occupied territory.

Consider what happened under three headings:-

(1)            He was faithful to his mission  v 3

(2)            He was attentive to God’s instructions v6~

(3)            He prayed – and what a prayer v16~

These three aspects of Jeremiah’s spiritual life are mixed together to produce a singular evidence of God at work in His servant.

In the light of this example:

Do you have a work for the Lord? – DO IT

Has God spoken to you? – PROVE HIM

Do doubts remain? – PRAY ON

FAITHFUL       vv 1-3

2 The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.

3 Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.

It is too easy for us to forget the reality – the very harsh reality facing Jeremiah at this time.

The siege is a REAL DANGER

The future is BLEAK

He is IMPRISONED

Any one of those factors on their own would be enough to put most off – but together they pose an incredible barrier to faith and peace of mind.

Yet Jeremiah does not flinch – he does not bend in the face of criticism or danger. Yes he does ask questions and does have doubts – but his faith is the sort that endures.

Where did this quality of faith come from?

(a)          A profound sense of God’s calling

To Jeremiah, God  is pre-eminently SOVEREIGN  (see chapter 1)

(b)         God had equipped him with armour suited to the task

(c)          God had given him a promise for the future

They will be most likely to invest in God’s promises who have proved Him in times past, who know Him to be Sovereign, and who have listened as He promises.

AS New Covenant believers we have the same understanding of a sovereign Lord who calls His people to Himself – who promises grace sufficient and protection, and who goes to prepare a place for us.

We have even more reason that Jeremiah had to INVEST IN GOD’S PROMISES.

The test is not youth – or old age, not lack of learning – or any gift, not fear of difficulty or boldness – BUT SIMPLE FAITHFULNESS

God wants us – like Jeremiah to see a greater return for HIS INVESTMENT IN US – the parables that Jesus told are pertinent here.

If God says DO THIS – WE SHOULD BE DOING IT

Noitice what God says in v 39:-

38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

Singleness of heart and action!

To base what we do upon the character of the God who has called us to become His children. The Lord who has redeemed us with His precious blood.

Have you been given a task – then – because of that DO IT!

ATTENTIVE     vv 6-15

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’

8 “Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.’

“I knew that this was the word of the Lord; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— 12 and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.

13 “In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 14 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so that they will last a long time. 15 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’

Jeremiah not only HEARS what God says – he recognises its power and its value.

Notice from those verse how Jeremiah LISTENS:

V6 

“The word of the Lord came to me: 7 Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’

V 8

8 “Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field

V8b

“I knew that this was the word of the Lord;

V 9

; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 

a.                The word is personal and specific

It was a brief insight into an event to come – but its significance lay in  what HAD TO BE DONE rather than a promise to be admired.

b.               The word was immediately fulfilled

There was no need for a fleece!

Jeremiah hears – and expects the word to work.

c.                Jeremiah RECOGNISED the Voice of God

“I knew that this was the word of the Lord;

d.               THEN HE DID AS HE WAS TOLD

9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 

The transaction is carried out in all its detail.  Vv 9-15

24 “See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. 25 And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’ ”

So – in his later prayer does Jeremiah remind God of the seeming contradiction of it all – but it is not a contradiction if God says so!

How attentive to God’s word are we?

The third element binds FAITH and ATTENTIVENESS TOGETHER:

PRAYER – and what a prayer!  16-25

16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord:

17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the fathers’ sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, 19 great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve. 20 You performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, both in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. 21 You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. 22 You gave them this land you had sworn to give to their forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster upon them.

24 “See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. 25 And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’ ”

26 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

NOTICE this is not a prayer BEFORE the obedience – but AFTER it!

Although Jeremiah has his doubts – he obeys – then he prays.

What a prayer it is!

1.)           It sets God in His power and greatness

 

Creation                     17

Providence                 19     “seeing all”

Moral goodness                  according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve. 

History                       20-22

2.)           It is full of all God’s possibilities

Nothing is too hard for you

A might hand and an outstretched arm

 

3.)           It faces the present difficulties boldly

The reality of Judah’s apostasy  v23

23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster upon them.

The reality of the enemy

24 “See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see.

The reality of Jeremiah’s position

25 And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’ ”

It results in a REINFORCEMENT OF GOD’S PROMISE

27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? 

Investment requires a guarantee.

What guarantee does Jeremiah have that his investment will succeed?

God listens to Jeremiah’s doubts – but restates his character and His promise

V 44~

42 “This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. 43 Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.’ 44 Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”

                                      

CONCLUSION

Jeremiah presents us with a lesson in steadfastness.  His life and work, inextricably interwoven by God for him – presents him with problems just like the problems we face from time to time.

Yes – he complains, and sometimes he accuses God of trapping him – but his prayers are not only honest they are full of the greatness and sovereignty of God.

In this particular story we see Jeremiah being required to put his own message and his own understanding of who God is on the line of personal choice.

Whilst surrounded by difficulties we have never faced – Jeremiah does as he is told. He makes a really unwise (in the world’s eyes) investment.  He buys a field that will be overrun – and he does this BECAUSE he believes what God says.

No doubt like Jeremiah we are disposed to believe that God does have the future – and that includes our future – in His hands – but we do not always make decisions about risk taking, about our own futures, about the investment of assets based on such a premise.

·        Jeremiah is FAITHFUL to God’s word.

·        He is ATTENTIVE to its national and PERSONAL implications

·        and above he PRAYERFULLY OBEYS IT. 

Will you put yourself into the message as he does? God does not let him down!!

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