This is post 7 of 9 in a series about the book of Jeremiah.
Do you have a contrarian in your life? You know, that person who never seems to reflect the mood in the moment. When it’s raining, they are giddy. When you’re tired, they want to sprint. When you’re ready to get up, they are ready to take a nap. So it was with Jeremiah.
Gloom in the Midst of Hope
For years he had prophesied doom and gloom when everything seemed to be fine. Even in 597 BC, when the first round of Judean exiles were taken away, most people thought, “That wasn’t nearly as bad as Jeremiah had foretold.” Yet, 10 years later, Zedekiah—who was to be the last king of Judah—locked Jeremiah up while the foretold Babylonian siege was finally upon them.
After years of refusing to listen and even trying to hold back the transmission of God’s word, we find Zedekiah ironically even transmitting it himself (32:3-5, and for Jeremiah’s previous interactions with Zedekiah see 21:1-7, 27:12-15, 32:1-5, 34:1-7, 37:1-10, 37:17-21, 38:14-28).
Hope In the Midst of Doom
Now that doom and gloom had arrived, the ever-contrarian Jeremiah was prophesying hope in the middle of a siege. It was over for Jerusalem (for now), but Jeremiah the contrarian prophet was about to become Jeremiah the contrarian real estate investor even as the market was crashing.
Thus far in the book, the LORD has asked Jeremiah to do a lot of strange things. He was asked to buy a nice garment, wear it to attract positive attention, then ruin it and attract negative attention to show the nation of Judah that God’s people were an embarrassment to His reputation—like someone wearing unsavory clothing to a public event (ch. 13). He also had Jeremiah buy a flask from the potter from chapter 18, take it outside of town, and smash it into pieces in front of the elders (ch. 19).
Real Estate Just Before a Downturn
Now the LORD tells Jeremiah to buy a field in Anathoth (his hometown) from his cousin during the great Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (32:3) while he is held up in the palace. Judah is about to cease to exist as a country and his purchase will mean nothing. It goes without saying, but this is the riskiest purchase the LORD had ever ordered anyone to make. “Why?” Thought Jeremiah. The request was so wacky that he was likely unsure that this word was really from the LORD, so when his cousin came as the LORD predicted, Jeremiah acknowledged, “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD” (32:8).
Jeremiah bought the field out of obedience, but perplexed, he asked the LORD why He would have him do it (32:25). The LORD replied that He would, indeed, give the land over to Nebuchadnezzar, but that He would afterwards redeem it back to His people (32:26-42)! Incredible. This news is breathtakingly beautiful, but what does it have to do with B4T?
B4T In the Midst of Darkness
We have been instructed to do the same thing. We live in lands that are not our own and daily face the risk of confiscation and even expropriation. We are tasked with investing in least-reached people groups that could hate us, jail us, or kick us out if they find our love for Jesus distasteful. Yet, the LORD has promised to redeem some from every tongue, tribe, and nation. We don’t go to “finish a task,” confident that we will be the ones to complete it; instead, we go to “plant” (32:41) the seed of redemption and water it, trusting the LORD to make it grow (1 Corinthians 3:7).
“Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”” – Jeremiah 32:43-44 ESV
Babylon (of the Chaldeans) became a microcosm for “the system of the world setup against God” by NT times. Peter writes of the church as exiles in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13) and John in Revelation refers to Babylon in the same way.
Redemption in the Midst of Exile
Yet, God tells Jeremiah that fields will be bought again despite the great Babylonian land expropriation (32:33). Commerce will be restored in the land of Benjamin, Jerusalem, the cities of Judah, the Hill Country, the Shephelah, and in the Negeb (basically the entirety of the land of Israel, 32:44).
The LORD loves to redeem. But think about the context of Jeremiah 32—what does he choose as His metaphor to redeem? Commerce. Business. What would people have to look forward to? Answer: the ability to conduct their business in peace, to own their land again and live their lives in the Kingdom of God (Jesus’ term).
The OPEN Network is part of that redemption story. We are working in places where people who enter the Kingdom on our watch will one day be able to do their business in the safety and security of His Kingdom, worshipping Him in fullness all day long and not worrying about property rights.
This is what eternity is going to look like, and we are inaugurating it amongst the least-reached now. You might say, by faith Jeremiah plowed 17 shekels of his hard-earned money (possibly all he had) into land that would be worthless until the LORD fulfilled His promise to redeem. Care to join him?
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.