Jerusalem is under siege. The armies of Babylon have surrounded the city. The prophet Jeremiah is imprisoned by the King of Judah because Jeremiah keeps saying “Jerusalem is going to fall.” The king questions Jeremiah, and he responds with the story in our reading today. Jeremiah’s cousin needs to sell a piece of property. He comes to Jeremiah with an offer. Jeremiah, as a member of this extended family, has the opportunity to buy the land first. If he buys it, the land stays within the family. Jeremiah buys the property, and he goes into detail on how he legally makes the sale happen. The deeds are stored in a jar so that it will last a long time. In the middle of a war, with Babylon storming the gates, Jeremiah buys a piece of land. The Kingdom of Judah and all its laws about property rights are about to fall, yet Jeremiah buys a piece of land. Judah’s way of life is over and, yet, Jeremiah buys a piece of land. The future looks bleak but Jeremiah doesn’t let fear rule him. He knows the kingdom will fall but he trusts God’s promises more.
Jeremiah is not a beloved prophet. The kings of Judah do not like this man of God who says that the Kingdom is going to fall. But every promise of destruction is met by the promise of God’s future. Babylon might destroy God’s temple but they cannot destroy God’s promises to God’s people. The inhabitants will be sent into wile but God’s relationship with them will not end. God will go into Exile with the people. God will be with them, no matter what. And, as the wheels of time move and the world changes and grows, God will rework God’s people to bring them into a future where injustice, pain and tears are no more. And that’s why Jeremiah buys a piece of land. He’s doubling down on God’s promise even if he doesn’t see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 8/21/2016.