I can’t imagine purchasing some land while in prison, even if it were a good deal. From the sounds of it, Jeremiah would be helping a relative by taking this property off his hands. In the real estate market of that day, this property was probably virtually worthless. The value would lie in the memories and traditions the family had invested in this land!
I’m not sure Jeremiah felt he had any choice. He had received a vision from God that his cousin, Hanamel, would come forth with this very offer. We already know of Jeremiah’s great faithfulness. Listening to God was his priority even while enduring hardship, mockery, and imprisonment. It seems God was giving Jeremiah the opportunity for an inheritance which was certainly a strong declaration of hope for the future.
Jeremiah gives us another upbeat message in this reading. What poignant and memorable words of hope in Israel’s darkest hour! Even though we’re not the original hearers of these words from God, we can still glean joy in the promised restoration. What were some of your favorite images of the restoration? I liked “With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself,” and “I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.”
This same God of hope loves us and looks out for us, too. We have been included into his family by the blood of Jesus. With that truth in mind, reread this passage and find the hope God intends for you to cling to today. We are all walking through some challenge that is zapping our energy, and likely our joy. I don’t know what your struggle is, nor you mine, but that’s okay. We serve the same loving God that is walking right beside each of us.
We get a glimpse of God’s plan for the exiles in this letter. This reminds us how closely involved Jeremiah was to the events happening in this moment in history. He wasn’t one of those exiled to Babylon. He was in Jerusalem, presumably expecting (and fearing) all the atrocities he was preaching about. How would that make you feel?
Knowing he was giving the people in exile some hope and direction with this communication had to be fulfilling. It’s exhilarating anytime we’re used by God! When is the last time you were used by God for some purpose?
When you picture these people being taken into exile, away from everything that’s familiar, the vision is not pretty. Imagine the despair and longing for how things used to be! In today’s reading, God uses the vision of figs as more than just a depiction of good and evil. Jeremiah now has a much different picture of how God sees those living in exile. They represent the good figs.
Have you ever stopped to think about what the people left behind in Jerusalem must have been thinking? Did they feel victorious because they weren’t the ones whisked away into the unknown? Perhaps they felt superior having been spared this brutality. According to the fig story, their reality is quite the opposite.
Don’t you love when God uses “real life” items to make his point? Jeremiah often tells vivid stories given by God to illustrate Judah’s destiny. But I’m not sure how many loincloths I’ve seen being used in my lifetime in areas of the world where I’ve been. It would have made a lot more sense to people in Jeremiah’s day. Linen belts would be intimate pieces of clothing, like underwear. Linen was also used to make the priests’ robes, so it could be seen as “holy.” But the way God uses this illustration is stunning!
The message for us is not “be careful, linen doesn’t hold up too well if it’s buried in the ground.” What was the message you heard? God said to Jeremiah, “This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.” Fun fact: linen gets stronger when wet, so when Jeremiah is told to not wash the garment, the linen is actually dry, its weakest state.