It’s hard to imagine what living in a city under siege would be like. The fear of death and uncertainty of tomorrow would be crippling. When you’re caught in a place of panic, it can be hard to imagine peace and prosperity are even possible. But that’s God’s message in this reading.
Jeremiah even speaks of Jesus without mentioning him by name. We also know that Jerusalem will be rebuilt because it was a bustling city in the days Jesus walked this earth. You will recall high priests presiding in Jesus’ day as well. The Messianic hope had been sparked.
Rise and fall or is it fall and rise, the one that ends on a happier note with hope! Today’s reading covers the gamut in terms of what’s happening to the people of Israel. As I’m writing this, it’s Thanksgiving in the United States once again. I could have spent time reflecting only on the prediction of the fall, but on a day of giving thanks, it seemed appropriate to focus on both. Thankfully the Spirit prompted me accordingly!
How unbelievable and frightening it must have seemed to the people to hear Jeremiah’s words. That is assuming they were actually listening to the words of the LORD being spoken by Jeremiah. Their beloved Jerusalem was going to fall.
Jeremiah gives us a great example of prayer. He is still puzzling over his purchase of land from our last reading. And yet, instead of coming right out and asking God why, he includes the situation in his tribute to God’s power.
Think of your last prayer to God. Did you give him praise and honor for all he has done? Did you specify the mighty works that have gotten your attention? That’s what we see Jeremiah doing. God loves our adoration. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
I can’t imagine purchasing some land while in prison, even it was 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.
How strange this idea of a new covenant must have seemed to Jeremiah and those first hearing this prophecy. The old covenant had been in place for generations, but it had been broken. As it says in Hebrews 8:7, “If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.”
Jeremiah speaks of the new covenant that will be ushered in by Jesus himself. Reference to a new covenant speaks of a future far beyond the end of the exile. The hope of restoration will not be fully realized until the Messiah comes.