I love the headings that bible editors put in the beginning of each passage. They give us a clue about what is coming and provide a lovely one-sentence synopsis of the verses. I was delighted to open up the Common English Bible version of today’s passage and read the heading, “Nothing is too hard for the Lord.” Now I can’t wait to dive in!
Let’s go back to a time in Old Testament history when Babylon had invaded Jerusalem and the prophet Jeremiah was in jail. Israel had fallen into enemy hands and Judah was on the verge of being taken over as well. The people had been captured and taken to Babylon and the outlook was very bleak.
Jeremiah 32 (Common English Bible)
32 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word in the tenth year of Judah’s King Zedekiah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. 2 At that time, the army of the Babylonian king had surrounded Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined to the prison quarters in the palace of Judah’s king. 3 Judah’s King Zedekiah had Jeremiah sent there after questioning him: “Why do you prophesy, ‘This is what the Lord says: I’m handing this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will occupy it.
In this midst of this mess, God spoke.
6 Jeremiah said, The Lord’s word came to me: 7 Your cousin Hanamel, Shallum’s son, is on his way to see you; and when he arrives, he will tell you: “Buy my field in Anathoth, for by law you are next in line to purchase it.”8 And just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel showed up at the prison quarters and told me, “Buy my field in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for you are next in line and have a family obligation to purchase it.” Then I was sure this was the Lord’s doing.
This is one of those “Wait … what??” moments. God told Jeremiah that Judah was falling into enemy hands and they are about to be deported, so he should go buy a field of land in Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s strong faith was evident in his response to this startling instruction … he knows that something this nonsensical has got to be the Lord’s doing.
Have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless … impossible even … and then all of a sudden something changed or moved or appeared that made it all work out? Has God ever given you an instruction that seemed crazy, but it turned out to be exactly the right way to go?
Jeremiah did as he was told.
9 So I bought the field in Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 Then I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy, with its terms and conditions, and the unsealed copy— 12 and gave it to Baruch, Neriah’s son and Mahseiah’s grandson, before my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses named in the deed, as well as before all the Judeans who were present in the prison quarters.13 I charged Baruch before all of them: 14 “The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Take these documents—this sealed deed of purchase along with the unsealed one—and put them into a clay container so they will last a long time.
15 The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”
And indeed, the diaspora eventually ended, and the Israelites returned home.
I think this is a good reminder to us that when the Lord speaks, we should listen and obey. And it also assures us that nothing is too hard for the Lord. So whatever heavy load you are carrying today, give it to him.
God is able.