There are times when God asks us to do something that may seem ridiculous to others and even to us. Leave a comfortable, secure job for work that feeds the soul but leaves us worried whether we can pay our bills. Forgive an abuser who hasn’t acknowledged the abuse. Buy a piece of land when we know that it soon will be taken over by our enemies.
That last example is found in our scripture reading today. Jeremiah has warned the people of Israel that the Babylonians are coming to take their land and to send them into exile. He has pleaded with them to repent of their sins so that they escape God’s judgment. Instead of heeding Jeremiah’s warning, the people have ignored him and the king has locked him up for treason.
Then comes God’s baffling instruction to Jeremiah—buy a relative’s piece of land. Jeremiah knows that the field in question will soon belong to the Babylonians. Exile is coming. Realistically, it is not a good time to invest in real estate. But right in the midst of this seemingly hopeless circumstance, God offers Jeremiah a chance to demonstrate inexplicable hope. Jeremiah’s purchase of the field is a concrete sign to the people of Israel that though the future looks bleak, God will have the final word. And that word is restoration—the people will be restored to their land.
We may be asked to demonstrate our hope in God’s promises. A faithful response is particularly difficult when circumstances seem dire and we are exhausted physically and emotionally. But because of our relationship with a faithful God, we can find the courage to trust God enough to do what on the surface may seem incredulous. When we are willing to take that step, we find strength in our faith and in that of others.
Help me, God, to listen and to be willing to do whatever you ask of me today, no matter how inexplicable it may seem. Amen.
While Jeremiah is in prison, God tells him to buy a field. This transaction shows that in the future life will return to normal. It is an “enactment prophecy,” where a prophecy is given through actions instead of just words. The psalmist rejoices in the protection that God provides to the faithful. God is a fortress, a covering, and a shield. Paul admonishes his readers not to fall into materialism. The love of money, not money itself, is the root of all kinds of evil, and those obsessed with it build their hopes on shifting sands. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who has fallen into that very trap. Only after death, when it is too late, does he realize his mistake.
Read Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. How do you live as if God’s promises were already true?
Read Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16. How do you turn toward God with hope in times of darkness?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19. Whether you have few or many possessions, how do they get in the way of your following Jesus?
Read Luke 16:19-31. God knows each of us by name. Do you know the names of the persons in your community who have obvious or internal unmet needs?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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