What Gives Us Hope?
Jeremiah 32:1-3, 6-15
Our lessons start out today with an unusual turn of events. The prophet Jeremiah is under house arrest while the Babylonian (modern day Iraq) king Nebuchadrezzar is completing his conquest of Jerusalem. The situation is dire. The Jews inside the walls of the old city are undoubtedly in a panic. As they fortified their positions they asked themselves, "Will the Babylonian king spare us or slaughter us? What will our future be?" This was hardly the time for a real estate transaction.
Meanwhile, Jeremiah who earlier had prophesied the fall of Jerusalem sees that this previously unthinkable thing is about to happen and the Word of God comes to him again. "Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of purchase and redemption is yours." What a strange thing for God to tell a prophet when God's own people are about to be conquered again, subjugated and marched off to exile.
So Jeremiah does as he is told. Fortunately he didn't have to wait sixty days to close. And he has the deeds put into an earthen jar probably not unlike the containers for the Dead Sea Scrolls, "in order that they may last for a long time." The story concludes this disastrous chapter of Jewish history with a refrain of hope. "Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be brought into this land."
As Christians living in a time where the unthinkable breaks onto the eleven o'clock news with regularity how are we to sustain our hope in the midst of the unthinkable?
From a pastoral point of view the unthinkable breaks in on us more than our rational mind is willing to accept. Most of us want our world to be a certain way no matter what our stage in life may be – taking young children to school every day, heading off to work in the morning, collapsing on Friday night, spending long solitary hours watching television, fretting endlessly about having enough to make ends meet, grieving over lost loved ones, wor ...
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