Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
This article, "Hope in Unusual Situations" is the inspiration from Jeremiah 32:6-15. God commanded the major prophet to buy a field at a time when the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon.
According to natural understanding, buying a field at that particular time was futile because there was no one there to build houses on the land or to plant crops. Even though Jeremiah did not understand the meaning of God's command, he was obedient and did exactly what God told him to do.
Jeremiah 32:6-15 is a perfect example of having hope in unusual situations.
Jeremiah, the Man
Jeremiah was one of the four major prophets in the Bible. The other three are Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Out of the four, Jeremiah was given some unusual tasks to perform. It is no wonder he was called the "weeping prophet." He had a lot to weep about.
Jeremiah was lonely, but God told him not to marry. God wanted him to remain single so he would be accessible to do the work of God.
According to Jeremiah 1:4-5, the prophet's calling was established before he was in his mother's womb. He was already a priest at the age of 21. Then God called him to become a prophet. He would be in the position to speak to judges, kings, religious leaders and high officials in his own hometown of Jerusalem. That turned out to be a problem for the prophet.
Jeremiah had one main message, and it was not an easy task. He was commanded to tell the kings they would be killed and the city would be destroyed if people continued to worship idols. They despised Jeremiah and tried to kill him on several occasions. Even his family plotted to kill him after calling him a laughing stock.
People believed if they got rid of the messenger, then they would also get rid of the message. Since they weren't successful at killing him, Jeremiah was imprisoned several times for prophesying the truth.
Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. He wished he had died in his mother's womb. He did not want to preach gloom and doom to his own people. God said, "If you don't break them, I will break you!" In other words, God would punish Jeremiah if he didn't tell the people what God commanded. The message God gave Jeremiah was like he had "fire shut up in his bones." (Jeremiah 20:9)
Jeremiah never stopped preaching to his own people. He preached the same message for 40 years without any results. People refused to put away their idols and turn from their wicked ways. They also refused to give their attention to the one and only living God.
By man's standards, Jeremiah was a failure. By God's standard, Jeremiah was faithful.
God Commanded Jeremiah to Buy a Field
Jeremiah illustrated hope in a most unusual situation by buying a field as God commanded. Real estate agencies would say Jeremiah made the worst financial investment of all time.
Jeremiah bought the land from a relative. Jerusalem was being destroyed and all the inhabitants were taken in captivity to Babylon. Jeremiah was given a choice of either going into exile with everyone else or staying in Jerusalem.
The prophet chose to stay behind and buy the field as a sign that the people would return one day. Jerusalem was desolate without people or animals. Jeremiah wrote letters to encourage the enslaved people to continue raising their families and do the best they could because they would be there for a while. In the meantime, Jeremiah was in Jerusalem taking care of an empty field.
This might be a spoiler alert for some but not for others who have read the account in the Book of Jeremiah. The captives returned to Jerusalem after 70 years. Because Jeremiah had stayed behind and bought the field, his people had something to return home to.
Not all the Jews went back to Jerusalem even though they were free to do so. Some of them took advantage of Cyrus’ decree and left Babylon, while others stayed in Babylon for various reasons.
- Some Jews were too old to travel the 900 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem. There were many who would have been unable to endure the long journey.
- Some families with young children were unable to travel.
- Those who were sick and disabled stayed behind.
- Some of the Jews refused to move because they got comfortable living in Babylon. Many of them had been born in Babylon during the exile and that was all they knew.
- Many Jews had become successful during the reign of Cyrus. They were satisfied in their high position and did not return home.
- Concern for personal safety kept some Jews from returning to Jerusalem.
- Some Jews chose to live in disobedience to God in Babylon rather than living in obedience in Jerusalem.
- Some people who were now free decided not to return because of the amount of work they would have to do to rebuild the city including the wall of Jerusalem. Some of them were not up to the task. So, they stayed behind.
Those who stayed in Babylon were told to give to the returning Jews their gold, silver, and other things they had accumulated. Cyrus also returned the things Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the city 70 years ago. That meant the people who returned had a heavy load to carry.
After traveling for four months, the Jews were home again in the desolate city of Jerusalem.