Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 32

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Verses 1-5


In this chapter Jeremiah’s faith in the LORD’s words about restoration in Jeremiah 30-31 is being tested. This chapter is important because it shows the reality of Jeremiah’s faith in the promises of the LORD about the restoration of the people.

Circumstances of Jeremiah

These verses are the introduction to a special event in Jeremiah’s life. That event relates to buying a piece of land and contains a wonderful illustration of true faith. The situation at that time looks anything but rosy for Jeremiah. This event is right in the middle of the comfort book of Jeremiah 30-33 and fits right in.

The word of the LORD comes to Jeremiah in the tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign (Jeremiah 32:1). Zedekiah reigned for eleven years (2 Chronicles 36:11). In the eleventh year, Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem. Before the word of the LORD is given – it comes in Jeremiah 32:6 – we first hear of Jeremiah’s circumstances. The situation is very dire. The Babylonians have moved against Jerusalem and laid siege to the city (Jeremiah 32:2). In the captive city, Jeremiah himself is also imprisoned.

Zedekiah has him imprisoned because he constantly says that the LORD will give the city into the hand of the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 32:3). Zedekiah will also be captured and brought before the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 32:4). There he will remain, until the LORD finds it enough and will visit him (Jeremiah 32:5). Jeremiah called for him not to fight against the king of Babylon, but to surrender to him. All this Zedekiah holds out to Jeremiah. He should, as it were, just think about it and quit. Then he will be set free again.

Verses 6-8

Offer to Buy a Field

While Jeremiah is in prison because Zedekiah no longer wants to hear His service, the word of the LORD comes to him (Jeremiah 32:6). A prison is no hindrance to the LORD passing on His word to His prophet. He tells Jeremiah that he will be visited by his cousin Hanamel (Jeremiah 32:7). His cousin will ask him to buy his field, because he has the right of redemption (Leviticus 25:23-Hosea :; Ruth 4:1-Joshua :). The enemy has already taken possession of the entire land, including Anathoth. Only Jerusalem has yet to be taken. That the enemy already possesses Anathoth makes the request to buy the land remarkable.

As the LORD has said, it happens. Hanamel comes to Jeremiah in his captivity and makes him the offer to buy his field (Jeremiah 32:8). He adds where the field is and why Jeremiah is being offered the field for sale. Jeremiah acknowledges in what is happening the hand of the LORD.

That is a remarkable message. It is not a command, for we do not read the LORD telling Jeremiah to buy that field. All the circumstances indicate that buying a piece of land is a foolish investment. The enemy is before the city and it will soon be destroyed. Anathoth is already in the hands of the enemy. Jeremiah himself is in prison. Now in such a situation and with such a prospect, what is one to do with buying a piece of land?

However, it is not a foolish investment if you believe that the LORD will give restoration. Rather, it is then a testimony of faith. Jeremiah also spoke of that restoration and not just the removal and destruction. The simple purchase of a field becomes an act of faith because of the circumstances.

Verses 9-15

Jeremiah Buys a Field

Jeremiah, recognizing the word of the LORD through his cousin’s visit and offer, buys the field (Jeremiah 32:9). He pays the outweighed price for it. Although Jeremiah is a prisoner, he apparently does have some freedom of action. The amount is not high. That will have to do with the situation at the time.

The transaction is recorded in a deed of purchase that Jeremiah signs (Jeremiah 32:10). He then seals the deed and has witnesses confirm that he has paid the correct amount. The deed consists of two deeds: a sealed deed and an open deed (Jeremiah 32:11). The sealed deed provides security; the open deed can be seen by anyone to prove that the deal was done entirely as agreed.

The sealing is regulated by law. Jeremiah gives both deeds to Baruch. Everything happens with the greatest openness (Jeremiah 32:12). Everything is transparent and observable by all. There is no suspicion that anything is happening with hidden intentions. At the same time, it is also a testimony of faith. Jeremiah buys a piece of land also as proof of his trust in the LORD that He will give restoration.

When Jeremiah hands the deeds to Baruch, he adds a command (Jeremiah 32:13). Baruch is to put the sealed deed and the unsealed deed in an earthen jar (Jeremiah 32:14). Jeremiah gives him that instruction in the Name of “the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel”. The power of God and that He is the God of His people are for faith the guarantee of His promises (cf. Jeremiah 27:4). They are to be put into an earthenware jar, in order that both deeds may be kept for a long time and that they may be legible after that long time. When they are brought out after a long time, it will be seen that the deed left open and the sealed deed have the same content. The purchase will still be in full force.

That they will be brought out is certain. For the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says that a time will come when houses and fields and vineyards will be bought again in this land (Jeremiah 32:15). Jeremiah’s purchase is a purchase in faith. He is doing in faith what will soon be possible for the whole land.

What happens to Jeremiah is a picture of what happens to Christ. Christ has not only been in prison, but has purchased the field, the world, with His blood (Revelation 5:1-1 Chronicles :). We see Him breaking the seals of ownership of the world because He is the rightful Owner (Revelation 6:1-Esther :). Then He comes to claim His inheritance and all believers may be present at that moment (Revelation 19:11-Ecclesiastes :).

Verses 16-25

Jeremiah’s Doubts and Prayer

When the purchase is done, Jeremiah is overcome by despair and prays to the LORD (Jeremiah 32:16). He does not report his doubts to people, but does the only right thing. He turns to the Lord GOD, Adonai Yahweh, which is the sovereign Ruler (Adonai) and the God of the covenant with His people (Yahweh) (Jeremiah 32:17). He remembers Who the LORD is. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, which He made by His great power and His outstretched arm. For that great, all-powerful Creator, nothing is too difficult. That Creator proves Himself both in lovingkindness and in repayment of the iniquity to men (Jeremiah 32:18). Also in these acts He proves to be the “great and mighty God”.

That God is “great in counsel and mighty in deed”, precisely in His ways with men to thereby give to each what is due him as a result of his actions (Jeremiah 32:19). He is not an unmoved spectator of all that men do. Often we think so, but that is because of our limited view. That He is concerned with what happens on earth and especially with His own, He has shown in the signs and wonders He performed in Egypt, at the deliverance of His people from it (Jeremiah 32:20). He has also shown it in Israel and to all people on earth, as it was visible at that time.

With His people He has gone a special way. He has always proven Himself to His people as the God Who has been working for them since He led them out of Egypt (Jeremiah 32:21). He has brought them into the land which He swore to their fathers to give them, the good land flowing with milk and honey (Jeremiah 32:22). Briefly Jeremiah summarizes: “They came in and took possession of it” (Jeremiah 32:23). Immediately he adds how they behaved in it. They have not done what the LORD has said and therefore He has made all this calamity they are now experiencing to come upon them (Nehemiah 9:22-Habakkuk :).

Jeremiah, with the exclamation “behold, the siege ramps “ directs the LORD’s attention to the current situation (Jeremiah 32:24). At the same time, he justifies the LORD. What He has said that should happen is happening. After all, the LORD sees it Himself.

Then comes his desperate question that always plays in the background of everything he has said before about the LORD and His people. How is it possible, when the situation is so hopeless because of the people’s unfaithfulness, that he had to buy a certain field with witnesses to it (Jeremiah 32:25)? Surely the LORD does see that this purchase seems to be of no use because the city has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans, doesn’t He?

Verses 26-35

The Answer of the LORD

Then comes the LORD’s answer to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:26). It is an answer in which we must learn to rest. He is “the LORD, the God of all flesh” (Jeremiah 32:27), that is, not only of His people Israel, but of all mortal and limited people. He is far above them. All His intentions He will carry out, no matter how the situation in which His people, then or now, find themselves, may seem to belittle it. To Him nothing is too difficult, a word the LORD also said to Abraham a thousand years earlier in connection with the birth of a son, while he and Sarah were at that time humanly too old to have children (Genesis 18:14).

The city will be taken by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 32:28). That is the current situation. The LORD is doing this on the basis of His Word, because His people have been unfaithful to Him. The enemies will ruin the city (Jeremiah 32:29). They will burn the city and also the houses, because many houses have become idolatrous altars, where people offer sacrifices to Baal and other gods. Therefore, the LORD has become angry toward the city.

Their behavior has not suddenly changed. They have done what is evil in His sight from their youth, from their earliest days as a nation (Jeremiah 32:30). There has hardly been a time when the city has responded to His purpose (Jeremiah 32:31). It is remarkable how long the LORD has endured the city. But the time of forbearance has an end. He must now remove of the city from before Him. The whole population of the city has caused it (Jeremiah 32:32).

The LORD taught them about His will every time, early and late, all day long, but they turned their back and not their faces to Him (Jeremiah 32:33). We too can experience this ingratitude from those to whom we have done good and for whom we have sought good.

Instead of repenting, they have taken their wickedness to the extreme by setting up abominable idols in His house (Jeremiah 32:34). By doing so they have defiled the house of His Name. Even outside of it, the abominations are endless (Jeremiah 32:35). They sacrifice their children to Molech, the god of the Ammonites. God did not command this, it is nowhere in the law, not even a thought of it entered His heart. Such disgusting acts are entirely foreign to Him and He does not encourage people to do them (James 1:13). Idolatry in any form and sins in any expression do not come from Him. He is not the Author of sin.

Verses 36-44

Promises of Restoration

The LORD now has another word of comfort for Jeremiah and for every God-fearing person (Jeremiah 32:36). He again introduces Himself as “the LORD God of Israel”, despite the circumstances in which His people find themselves. The city is given into the hand of the king of Babylon under terrible circumstances. Jeremiah rightly says so.

Then comes the word of comfort, the promise (Jeremiah 32:37). The “anger”, “wrath”, and “great indignation” of the LORD to which He also points at the same time, do indicate in their combination how much the punishment is deserved. But the disciplining has an end and the people have a restoration. God will bring His disciplined people whom He has driven out and scattered back to Jerusalem and cause them to dwell there unconcerned, without fear of enemies and in peace and prosperity. They will be His people and He will be their God (Jeremiah 32:38).

Their hearts will no longer be divided, but undivided on Him (Jeremiah 32:39). They will have a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), by which they will also go one way, His way. From that way they will not stray to go back into their own ways. There is fear of Him in them and also in their children. That fear will be a benefit to them. Fearing the LORD brings good upon a people.

The LORD makes an everlasting covenant with them (Jeremiah 32:40). He guarantees its fulfillment. He promises that He will not turn away from them and do them good. He does not have to turn away from them anymore either, because He will put His fear into their hearts so that they will not turn away from Him anymore. God never changes. The problem is always man’s erring heart. That problem is then solved. There is perfect harmony between the desires of God and those of His people. They will delight the LORD and He will do them good (Jeremiah 32:41).

He will turn everything to good for His people, who will then be faithful to Him, “with all My heart and with all My soul”. This is a unique expression that reveals that the LORD is speaking in rapture, as it were, of His intention to plant His people in their land.

It is God’s greatest possible joy also today to give a restoration among His people when He sees repentance. Then He wants to give again the enjoyment of the blessings of the land, blessings connected with a glorified Lord. Returning to the land also means returning to God’s altar and God’s house.

The LORD will bring good upon His people, just as He has brought disaster on His people by virtue of His Word (Jeremiah 32:42). He has spoken it, and what He says, He makes true. His Word is a word that has power. It makes everything solid and certain.

When the people have returned from exile, fields will be bought again, as Jeremiah has already done in faith (Jeremiah 32:43). It will take a long time, another seventy years, but the return will come. Then the whole exile will be forgotten. For Jeremiah, its redemption will happen in the realm of peace. What he has acquired, he will not lose.

All possessors of fields will then be put in possession of their property (Jeremiah 32:44). Each one will be able to prove the right to it. It is a right granted to them by the LORD who has given to each tribe of His people a portion in the land. They can count on it to happen, for the LORD has said that He will restore the fortunes of His people.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 32". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-32.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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