See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said. And yet O Sovereign LORD, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians. Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? [Jeremiah 32:24-27 (NLT)]
Under siege for nearly a year, Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians, and Judah’s future looked grim. Whether it was poverty or the desire to get rid of property that soon would be worthless once Babylon invaded, Hanamel decided to sell his land in Anathoth, about three miles from Jerusalem. Under Israelite law, property was supposed to stay within a family and so Hanamel offered it to his cousin, the prophet Jeremiah.
Since Anathoth already was under Babylonian control, Hanamel’s real estate deal would be like being offered property in Kabul, Afghanistan. While real estate often is considered a good investment, purchasing property in an active war zone or occupied territory is not. Nevertheless, even though Jeremiah was imprisoned in the palace courtyard and the nation’s defeat was inevitable, God instructed him to become the property’s redeemer by purchasing his cousin’s land.
Having prophesied the fall of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem, Zedekiah’s imprisonment, and the Jews’ captivity, Jeremiah knew how worthless the land was. Although he lawfully could refuse to purchase it, the prophet paid his cousin 17 shekels (about 18-months’ wages) for the land which, considering the circumstances, seems a sizeable sum for land he’d never live to enjoy. Assuring his scribe Baruch that the worthless land again would have value, he told him to take the deeds, place them in a clay jar (the ancient version of a safety deposit box), and preserve them in a safe place, The prophet then passed along God’s hopeful words to all those who witnessed the transaction in the courtyard: “Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.”
Along with his prophecies of Jerusalem’s ruin, Judah’s defeat, and the people’s captivity, Jeremiah had prophesied God’s eventual restoration of the people to their land. He didn’t buy the land because Judah wouldn’t be conquered; he purchased it because it would! The prophet was putting his money where his mouth was. His purchase of a worthless piece of acreage was an act of faith. It was a sign of hope for the future by the man who’d prophesied doom and gloom—a powerful demonstration of his belief in God’s promise that the land would again have value and belong to the Jews.
If we want to see the fulfillment of God’s promises to us, like Jeremiah, we must be obedient to God’s commands, no matter how difficult, confusing, or absurd they seem to be. In the face of obstacles, hardship, or overwhelming odds, we must demonstrate our faith and hope in God because faith and obedience go hand in hand. If we say we believe His promises, we must act as if we truly do! May we always remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord!