When King Zedekiah came to ask Jeremiah why he prophesied about Judah coming under siege by the Babylonians, Jeremiah answered with an account of what happened from the time God led His people out of Egypt and how they’ve conducted detestable practices in His eyes including the impending attack by King Nebuchadnezzar to take hold of Judah and Israel.
Jeremiah 32 (New International Version)
3 Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 4 Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.’”
You know, sometimes it is very encouraging to read the bible, especially if you see the message being conveyed to you without any mysteries to solve. So when the message comes clear as day, you’ll wonder if this was God’s “mystery” for you today because within it, there is no mystery at all, unless of course you have missed His message entirely. But when the crux of the matter darts at you straight to the heart just like that, it comes as sharp as the arrow hitting the bullseye.
I like the part in Jeremiah 32 when even in those ancient days, Jeremiah’s purchase of the land came with deeds to sign and also witnesses in tow just like our modern times. But instead of inferring such an example to people buying properties, the act of signing such documents reminded me of the endless shocking stories we’ve heard in our sophisticated societies where people just jumped into commercial engagements without the protection of signed agreements only to find the relationship turning sour in the end with no recourse for anyone.
“I knew that this was the word of the Lord; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— 12 and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.
Personally, I have gone into several commercial relationships without any agreements inked except for one which laid down very generic and simple terms about the arrangement devoid of comprehensive clauses to protect the signing parties. As you can imagine, without binding contracts, nothing concrete can be discussed because the terms and conditions would be difficult to grasp as we tend to forget the scope of work after some time and especially since they were not penned down. Arguments and debates in this sense will hardly stand justly, as are stipulated rights and risks, attributed solely to the absence of inscriptions of the black and white.
The startling truth from these cumulative experiences is that none of them turned out positively in the end and whatever we can claim about how well it all began, I have effectively lost a good dozen years being roped into such collaborations. Time as such has been wasted and as they say, time certainly waits for no one, yours truly not precluded.
Recalling the incidents, I must admit that while one took a long time before the ugly head reared itself, the rest of the nightmares played out shorter but not without first incurring some damages. Seeing that all supposedly binding parties came without contractual security, it’s hardly surprising that when one feels shortchanged, everybody would come to a losing end after blames and accusations were thrown at each other. The worst was undeniably the feeling of betrayal, more so when promised payments and rewards were not as forthcoming as had originally intended.
Deed of Preservation
And so, even in today’s settings, we still very much need what was written in Jeremiah 32 when Jeremiah’s purchase of the land was properly signed on a deed with witnesses all locked in on the document. Why? Because if God could compel Jeremiah to go as far as preserving the signed agreement in a clay jar, what more then for us who live in a multifaceted advanced world supported by a plethora of systems and infrastructure; we ought to ask ourselves then, do we even keep some of our precious agreements like Jeremiah did?
13 “In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 14 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’
The signed contract is only one part of this scripture that brought an eureka moment to my reading. Another is why would God ask Jeremiah to buy the land when the entire city was about to come under siege by King Nebuchadnezzar? It was definitely more puzzling because the instruction to purchase came to Jeremiah when he was held captive in the palace courtyard, quite like the days we’re living out right now being told to stay home to curb the spread of Covid-19 (originally written on 8 April 2020).
The no brainer answer to this was of course God had a purpose for the land sometime in the future, if not He wouldn’t have addressed the preservation of the agreement with such clarity. But to find out what, if at all, is the purpose of this purchase, we’ll have to wait for the later chapters of the bible to reveal itself.
43 Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.’ 44 Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”
In this devotional reading, I have also rediscovered God’s affirmation to take care of those He has chosen and that they will forever be under His care.
36 “You are saying about this city, ‘By the sword, famine and plague it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon’; but this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 37 I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. 40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
At a time such as this when we’re faced with what could possibly be The Great Depression of the 21st century, I am comforted that God will protect His people, to nurture us and to care for us until the crisis ends. I do not know if I am part of His chosen people but it helps to bring peace to my heart and instil some confidence knowing that God has His plans.
But some may ask, can we save ourselves from this time if we didn’t have God? Perhaps so but that would be under men-rule and men-principles, and men as we know it did not create this world. So if men did not create this world from the beginning of time, how then are they able to safeguard the present and predict the future? Very much like how programmers are needed to resolve the bugs and reboot for live when the biggest computer systems are taken down maliciously.
Today, if we are led and chosen to be kept safe by God on His terms and His principles, I believe we will be better shielded from the future onslaught of dictators and conniving rulers. But why would I go to such extreme and say that? Because even while being held captive in the courtyard by King Zedekiah, Jeremiah was, in the most extraordinary way, enabled to purchase a piece of land. This was not just a verbal confirmation over the phone or a text message sent to the seller but in the order of law and purpose, a deed of purchase was duly inscribed complete with the witnesses present at the scene as well. In other words, this “impossible” purchase when Jeremiah was kept under a “lockdown”.
Locked Down, Not Locked Out
I believe there are a few messages here we can take home with. For one, God will devise a plan for us to secure something out of our wildest imaginations even though we’re at home under the lockdown to curb Covid-19. It would be done under the context of “If not for God, this could not have been done” kind of a formulation.
Secondly, I believe if indeed there is something as described above coming our way, it is something that God wants to prepare us for after Covid-19 ends. When and what will this be, we must wait patiently for it to unfold as time passes.
Thirdly, if God had already reminded His people through Jeremiah 30 and 31 that restoration was already planned for and that His people will be protected and blessed amid the tragic decline of their surroundings, then this would come as a confirmation and as a resounding reminder that God is serious about His plan to cover His flock and shield us from all calamities.
Friends, brothers, sisters and everyone who is reading this, just like what I’ve mentioned previously, I do not profess to be a pastor, priest or a bible-teacher. I am only one simple man who has been given the interest to pen down my experience of reading God’s word and what comes to my mind when I do so. But at a time when the infected numbers of Covid-19 is reaching 1.5 million and the death tolls are also rising fast in countries like Italy and Spain, it brings some sanity to our minds knowing that God has a word to affirm His people that He will ensure their livelihoods. Although this message came during the ancient time of Jeremiah 32, I believe we can still count on it as evidence that the Lord our God is clear about His directives and His intentions for us.
42 “This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.
I pray that you will be the chosen one in this season and your family too will rejoice with you after Covid-19 over. I pray that God will shield and protect you, and as He does so, may He also strengthen your bodies and spirit so you will never be an easy pushover but a pillar of fortitude that stands the test of time where you can attest to His love by shouting and screaming about the goodness of the Lord. May you receive His message with great clarity today and in the days to come. May He bless you as we pray to also bless our Father in heaven, in the glorious name of Jesus, amen!
Bible reference from www.biblegateway.com