“Ah Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” [Jer. 32:17]
OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 32:
1. Vv. 1-5: Jeremiah is imprisoned for prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of king Zedekiah.
2. Vv. 6-15: In these desperate times Jeremiah, by divine command, buys land. God assures him that although times will be presently tough for Israel, he will remain in charge of Israel’s future and therefore Jeremiah may buy this land with confidence.
3. Vv. 16-25: Jeremiah’s response in prayer, which includes our text: “Ah Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” [v.17]. It is a great affirmation of faith despite the fact that things in Israel do not look good .
4. Vv. 26- 44: The Word from God through Jeremiah:
(i) 32:26-35: Prophesying the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem for their sins.
(ii) 32:36-44: At the same time he must assure them that, although the destruction was total, it will not be final. God will restore His people to their land. With this in mind, we now consider the historical situation.
THE HISTORICAL SITUATION :
Vv. 1-5 : The predicted fall of Jerusalem is now imminent. The events that led to the fall of Jerusalem were initiated by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon. In 605 BC he defeated the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho at the Battle of Carchemish. The Egyptians had been in an alliance with Israel at that point, and so the defeat of the Egyptians opened up the way for Babylonia to attack Jerusalem. The first siege of Jerusalem happened in 597 BC. Following that siege Nebuchadnezzar installed Zedekiah as a vassal king. However, in time Zedekiah revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, the king of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar responded again by invading Judah and began the second siege of Jerusalem in December 589 BC, and which lasted until 586 BC. In 586 BC, the 11th year of Zedekiah's reign, Nebuchadnezzar broke through Jerusalem's walls, conquering the city. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape but were captured on the plains of Jericho and taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons killed, Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken captive to Babylon, where he remained a prisoner until his death. Thereafter, the Babylonian general, Nebuzaraddan, was sent to complete the destruction of Jerusalem. The city was plundered, and Solomon's Temple was destroyed. Most of the Jewish elite were taken into captivity in Babylon. The city was razed to the ground. Only a few people were permitted to remain in the land. Gedaliah was made governor of the remnant of the people under the watchful eye of a Babylonian garrison stationed at Mizpah. On hearing this news, the Jews who were in exile in the territories of Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in other countries returned to Judah. Gedaliah was assassinated two months later, and the population that had remained and those who had returned then fled to Egypt for safety, taking Jeremiah with them against his will.
According to our text we find ourselves in 589 BC, at the beginning of the second siege. The Jews under king Zedekiah stubbornly offered resistance against the counsel of God by his true prophet. The siege took a long time (11 years). God's judgment came gradually upon them, and whilst the reality of the siege was unfolding, the Jews refused to listen to the true prophet of God. They did not repent. Zedekiah would not listen. In fact he was highly offended by Jeremiah– so much that he has him put into prison for telling the truth.
Zedekiah chose to believe the false prophets (see Chapter 28; 29:24-32) who were in the majority. A majority is not always right. It takes intimacy with God to hear His voice above the popular opinion and the noise of the world. True believers need to be familiar with the God of the Word, and the Word of God in order to discern their times. The prophet Isaiah who prophesied under similar circumstances to the northern kingdom, approximately 150 years earlier, saw that his people were abandoning the counsel of their God, seeking the counsel of occultic mediums and necromancers, and he said: “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to This Word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isa. 8:19,20).
Vv. 6-15. And now, whilst in prison, an extraordinary thing happens. God commands Jeremiah to buy a piece of ground from a cousin named Hanamel in Anathoth, Jeremiah’s home town. Imagine this. You know that your country is going to be overrun by an enemy , and yet you buy real estate! Is this insane, or what? What moved him to do this? God moved him, although humanly speaking this seemed to be an irrational move.
A word of explanation is needed here. Property in those days was not available on the open market. Property had to stay in the family. In passing, please note how the transactions were done in (vv 9-14) with deed of purchase and placing the deed of sale in an earthenware vessel to last a long time! In 70 years (which is a lifetime) things would look very different, and the property would still be in the hands of the “Jeremiah Anathoth” family. A good man always makes sure that there is an inheritance for his children. The time would come when houses, and fields, and vineyards should be again possessed in this land, and the family would have the title deeds (32:15). And so we read that his cousin, a kinsman came to offer it to him. It was not that Jeremiah had wanted it. It came to him. It may have been a good bargain, but the point is that he was a family member, and therefore entitled to this purchase. The right of redemption  belonged to him (32:8), and if he refused, the next family member might be approached. But, being a prophet there was more to the story than meets the eye. In this context, purchasing land in desperate times was a statement of faith and a vote of confidence in the sovereignty and trustworthiness of God. “Ah Lord God… nothing is too hard for you.”
And so, Jeremiah leads the way in word and in deed. He leads in faith and by example. In this he exemplifies the nature of the Christian ministry.
Matthew Henry comments: “ It concerns ministers to make it to appear in their whole conversation that they do themselves believe that which they preach to others and… impress it the more deeply upon their hearers, they must many a time deny themselves, as Jeremiah did in both these instances. God having promised that this land should again come into the possession of his people, Jeremiah will, on behalf of his heirs, put in for a share. Note, It is good to manage even our worldly affairs in faith, and to do common business with an eye to the providence and promise of God.”
Vv. 16-25 Jeremiah's Prayer. This brings us to this remarkable prayer of Jeremiah to God. He knows what God is about to do in the short term and the long term. He knows God. And so, after putting the deed of purchase into safekeeping with Baruch, he prays. In this prayer, he begins with:
1.Vv.17-19 - Worship: He gives God the glory due to his name as the Creator and Sustainer of the earth. Here is a great lesson for us. When faced with difficult times and situations, we do not look for worldly solutions. We look to Almighty God, and we remind ourselves of who He is. He is the fountain of all being. He has made the heaven and the earth with his outstretched arm and therefore who can control him? Who can contend with him? Furthermore, we remind ourselves that with God nothing is impossible. Nothing is too hard for Him. He is always in charge. Moreover we remind ourselves that He is the God who knows how to be merciful. “You show steadfast love to thousands…” (v.18a) but we also remember that He is also the God of absolute holiness and righteousness, and therefore of inflexible justice He consistently hates sin, and He will not gloss over un-atoned sin. Every generation that refuses to come to God for free pardon must bear the full fury of His wrath (v.18b). “His eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man…”. Nothing escapes Him. Such a God as this is not to be trifled with and argued with. He is to be worshipped… He is to be bowed down. You will not conquer Him.He will conquer you!
2. Vv. 20-23: Remembering the Past Works of the Lord - His faithfulness. He remembers how God had brought His people out of Egypt with signs and wonders – with an outreached arm. He gave them this land, which they now stand to lose, because of their rebellion. It is good for us often to reflect upon the great things that God has done for us in the past, lest we forget to be thankful in the present.
3. Vv. 24-25 Understanding the Present: History provides us with and understanding of the present. God has previously redeemed His people against all human odds. He has previously handed His people over when they had rebelled against Him, as it is now… “The siege mounds have come up to the city….the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans… what you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it”. Please note that Jeremiah does not argue with God nor prescribe to God what He should do. He knows God. He understands that God has an ultimate plan for good and not for evil (see 29:11). He understands that even in this situation, as challenging as it is, nothing is too hard for God (vv. 17,27).
Whatever trouble you are in, personally as individuals or corporately as families or as a nation, know this: God sees and knows how to bring everything towards a good end. And so ends the prayer: “ Yet you , oh Lord GOD have said to me, Buy the field for money and get witnesses- though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans .” God says, “trust me in this, Jeremiah“.
The rest of the chapter, from v.36ff shows us how God intends to do it, but we will keep that for next week … “ I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” [ 32:37,38]
1. The immediate application is the historical situation in 589 BC and the return approximately 70 years later in 520 BC under men like leaders like Nehemiah and Ezra and prophets like Haggai and Zechariah.
2. The application with respect to ourselves are the timeless principles found here. If the local church becomes faithless, God removes her lampstand (Rev 2:5), but He does not remove the church. “I will build my church , and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Many local churches have come and gone over the last 2000 years. Many a modern church no longer holds on to the Word, as false prophets have taken the true Word of God away from the people. That church will die! But there is always a remnant of faithful people and they find themselves displaced, as if in exile. But God never ultimately leaves His people. He remains the God of mercy and wrath. In time He restores His church, but He is not mocked.
God is patient. We must be patient. God calls us to trust Him when things look less than ideal. We must continue to invest in the kingdom although things look bleak. We must continue to build biblical churches in times of unfaithfulness, even though they are small.
3. But, in a greater sense Scripture always points towards an ultimate fulfilLment. There will come a time when all the sin of the earth will be subdued, when Christ comes again, and when the kingdom will be the Lord’s. This is what we aim to focus on next week. Amen!