Desperate situations can lead to desperate measures. They can also lead to counterfeit repentance. That essentially appears to be the idea behind the latter portion of Jeremiah thirty-four. Now, at first glance, the counterfeit had some of the external markings of the true. After all, when you begin reading verses 8 through 10 you hear what appears to be a bit of good news: “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD” (vs.8a) came “after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them” (vs.8b).
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You’ve probably heard it said by someone in a prayer meeting at some point, “Lord, you said, ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” And it’s true, God did say that. What many may not know is – He said that to Jeremiah. And what is, perhaps, even less known is what exactly the great and mighty things that God desired to show Jeremiah were. Quoting Scripture is great, particularly in prayer. And making an appropriate application is, of course, fine and good; however, if the original meaning of a text is missed the application of that text can be misused. It’s always safest and hermeneutically appropriate to understand what a particular promise meant to its original recipient(s) before we try to figure out how it applies to us. So with that being said, let’s create some context and set the scene so as to discern what God was saying to Jeremiah and whether or not we have a similar invitation today.
Perhaps to your surprise, Jeremiah 32, in large measure, concerns the real estate purchase of a prophet. Now, to be clear, you wouldn’t expect this chapter to show up on a must read list of books for any beginning real estate investor. In fact, on the surface, this acquisition had just about all the makings of a bad deal. First, consider where Jeremiah was – in prison (Jer. 32:2-3). Not exactly the place from whence you’d expect such transactions to occur. Second, as many investors will tell you, a primary mark of a good piece of land is location. As the saying goes, ‘Location, location, location.’ Well, Jeremiah was about to buy a plot of land that was likely already invaded and overrun by the Babylonians. After all, if the Babylonians had already surrounded Jerusalem (vs.2) they likely already subdued Anathoth, which was only a few miles away from Jerusalem (vs.7). But Jeremiah didn’t make this purchase because he lacked the savvy foresight of a prudent investor or the sense to understand that captured land does not hold much value, he did it because the God who spoke through him also spoke to him. Yahweh predicted that he would have this opportunity, and Jeremiah knew that God wanted him to buy the land to make a point. But before we see the point first we ought to hear the word of LORD that came to Jeremiah (vs.6),
On the night that Jesus was betrayed He took the cup after supper and spoke words that any Jewish person familiar with the Old Testament would have marveled to hear, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lk. 22:20b). At long last the time had come! The covenant spoken about approximately six hundred years earlier via the prophet Jeremiah was about to be implemented and ratified with the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross. This was, and is, cause for celebration. But such celebration must be fueled by understanding (cf. Ps. 47:7b). And if we are to understand and appreciate this New Covenant it is good to begin by setting it against the backdrop of the Old Covenant – at least that’s how Jeremiah presented it in the passage before us.
It was a word that either came to Jeremiah in his sleep or brought him peace that prompted a measure of good sleep (Jer. 31:26) – tidings of comfort while on the verge of calamity. The Babylonian siege was reaching its end, which meant that so was the nation of Judah’s ability to sustain life and prevent invasion. And it was at that time, when the landscape of life looked bleak, and Babylonian forces were on the brink of besieging Jerusalem, that God spoke great promises of incredible hope. Such is why this portion of Jeremiah, particularly chapters 30 through 33, are known as the ‘Book of Consolation.’ So while there have been some portions in the previous chapters of Jeremiah that have communicated hope (i.e. Jer. 3:15-18; 23:5-6), what comes in these chapters is, if you will, a tidal wave of hope, with promises that would have both near and far fulfillments, promises of restoration spatially and regeneration spiritually.