Israel’s Great Assurances Jeremiah 32
The prophet Jeremiah served the Lord prior to and during the Babylonian Captivity, warning the Israelites to avoid idolatry or expect judgment. Chapters 32—33 follow the specific promises of Jeremiah 31 and continue their spirit of assurance for God’s chosen nation.
At the end of chapter 31, the promise of the New Covenant reassures the Jewish people that, despite any temporal judgment the Lord sends their way, a day is coming when they will experience a spiritual restoration with absolute forgiveness of sin (vv. 31–34). Associated with that pledge is God’s promise that the descendants of Israel will always exist as a nation before Him (vv. 35–37). The next two chapters develop these promises.
Jeremiah Redeems a Field
When Babylon’s armies besieged Jerusalem, Jeremiah found himself in prison, put there by Zedekiah, king of Judah (32:1–2). Why? Zedekiah had rejected the messenger because he did not like the message.
Jeremiah had told him, “Thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans’” (vv. 3–4). Rather than repent, Zedekiah placed Jeremiah under arrest in the prison court.
Although the situation was not a positive one for Jeremiah, God is able to turn ashes to beauty and bad to good. Several features of Jeremiah 32 point Jeremiah’s readers to the God for whom nothing is too hard. Even though Jeremiah was in prison, God asked him to buy a field, a piece of land: “Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, ‘Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it’” (v. 7). Anathoth was located in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.
This event transpired as the Lord had said. Jeremiah did business with his relative who came to the prison. In purchasing the land for 17 shekels of silver (v. 9), the prophet fulfilled his duty as the kinsman-redeemer according to the Law (Lev. 25:25–34).1 As F. B. Huey noted, “Family land was considered to be a sacred inheritance. It was important to keep it from passing into the hands of someone else (1 Kgs. 21:3).”2 Jeremiah was the nearest kinsman or the next in line when others would not redeem it. (Note the similarity to the account in the book of Ruth.)
What made this purchase unique, however, was its timing. Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem made food scarce and put commodities at a premium, so the purchase of land was a special occasion. More important, the Babylonians were about to conquer the city and the land, as Jeremiah had prophesied. Pagans were going to own the territory, and the children of Israel would lose immediate benefit of possession.
Why would God want Jeremiah to purchase a field that would soon vanish from his grasp? The answer is found in the formal way the deed was signed and set aside for safekeeping. Jeremiah signed the document before many witnesses (Jer. 32:12), charging Baruch his scribe, “Thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open [a copy], and put them in an earthen vessel [clay jar], that they may last many days’” (v. 14).
Why would God give such instructions? The Bible gives the answer in the next verse: “For thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land’” (v. 15).
Despite the dismal prospects of impending Babylonian conquest, the children of Israel could have hope and exercise faith. God, who had promised the land to them as an everlasting possession through Abraham their father (Gen. 15:18; 17:7), was assuring them through the picture of the field bought by Jeremiah that they would possess the land again. After the Babylonian Captivity was over, Jeremiah (or his kin) would be able to find his preserved deed and reclaim the family’s rightful inheritance.
It is no wonder Jeremiah then launched into a lengthy prayer extolling God’s past great deeds for Israel (Jer. 32:16–25). In the same way, God could be trusted to handle the nation’s present and future circumstances. God responded by justifying the coming judgment (vv. 28–36).
Israel and Judah deserved what was about to befall them, which included the destruction of the Temple. Their idolatry had led to this moment in history. However, though God will judge severely and rightly in the short term, He will not forsake His people. At the end of the judgment, the Lord will bring them back: “I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger;…I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely” (v. 37).
The language of this section of the chapter strongly ties the Lord’s teaching back to the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31. Here it is the “everlasting covenant” (32:40) that the Lord will fulfill for the nation, and the people will not depart from Him.
This wording shows fulfillment that goes beyond the Jewish people’s return after the exile in Babylon, only to be judged later in A.D. 70 through the Romans. This promise of God extends to the nation’s ultimate restoration to spirituality, as well as glory in the end-times. Jeremiah’s field reminds us that nothing is too hard for the Lord (v. 17).
- H. A. Ironside, Notes on the Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah (New York, NY: Loizeaux Brothers, 1906), 168.
- F. B. Huey, Jr., Jeremiah, Lamentations, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1993), 16:290-291.