During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Lord told Jeremiah that he was to make a puzzling purchase. God said his cousin was going to approach him with the opportunity to buy a field in his hometown. And so Jeremiah 32:8 records this:
Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
The circumstances were bleak because of the Babylonian siege. From all appearances this would be a useless acquisition. Surely neither Jeremiah nor his descendants would ever be able to take physical possession of this property. But, the prophet was obedient to God and made the purchase. Upon his doing that, God gave him a subsequent command in Jeremiah 32:14-15:
‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’
I’m sure Jeremiah’s response to all this was something like: “Okay, Lord, whatever… So, You say Israel will again someday retake this land for its own – really… ?” That’s how bleak the situation was.
In the midst of this exchange, Jeremiah questioned God. He couldn’t comprehend how there could ever be a good outcome. In fact, Yahweh reiterated to him in an extended passage why He was allowing the Babylonians to overrun Jerusalem. Here are some pull quotes:
For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the Lord.
This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight…
They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction.
They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it… to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech…
And yet, despite all this that Israel had done against the express commands of God, He would have mercy upon them. He promised in Jeremiah 32:37-38:
Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. 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.
And so He did. Twice. God brought them back to Jerusalem after their seventy year exile in Babylon, and again following their further disobedience and dispersion after rejecting Jesus as Messiah and God. Since this second time on May 14, 1948, God has graciously blessed Israel, even though she remains secular and far from Him.
We’re all aware of the various land disputes since this regathering after World War 2. There is an Arab-Islamic presence in Israel in the Gaza Strip and what is known as the West Bank that the world always wants to use to divide God’s Holy Land. The West Bank, by the way, is actually Samaria and Judea, also encompassing some of what was originally the tribe of Benjamin.
As noted earlier, the field that God had Jeremiah purchase was in his hometown of Anathoth. This is located today in the town of Anata and is identified as Palestinian in the West Bank. That whole area remains disputed as though “occupied” by Israel. Regardless, numerous Israeli settlements have been built to reclaim what should belong rightly to them.
I’ve never been able to verify this, but I heard a sermon some years ago by – I believe – Tommy Barnett, which I’ve obviously always remembered. He said that at one point in an archeological dig an earthenware jar was discovered in a field in what used to be the town of Anathoth. That jar held the very deed to the land that Jeremiah had purchased so many years prior. If the account is true – which I have no reason to doubt other than my inability to confirm it – then the dispute with the so-called Palestinians should in reality be no dispute at all. That land was previously the possession of Israel, and the deed proves it. It never belonged to any other people group.
This is good news for Israel and for us. The Lord will fully restore that land and all disputed property that He has promised to His Chosen People. God’s Word is true, and we can take it to the bank. Just as he brought Israel back together as a nation, so He will cause them ultimately to glorify Jesus Christ as Lord. Just as He has promised His church that He will keep us from the wrath that will come upon the entire earth during the Tribulation, so He will.
We can trust God. Truly, He is our hope and confidence. When He makes a promise, He will keep it. Let us praise Him, for His Word is true and He is good!
Our God reigns forever and ever!