The religious reformer Martin Luther once famously said: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
I thought about this quote as I was reading Jeremiah 32 today. Jeremiah is being held in prison by Judah’s king, Zedekiah. The city of Jerusalem was under siege by the powerful Babylonians. To hold a city under siege means that you have it surrounded. No one gets in, no one gets out. More importantly, no FOOD gets in. Hold a city under siege long enough and the people will get hungry, and some will come out voluntarily. For those who hold out longer, they will simply starve to death, or become so weak that they are unable to fight. It was a strategy of war that was used for thousands of years.
God had told Jeremiah the prophet to warn Zedekiah and all of Jerusalem that they were going to fall to the Babylonians, their city would be captured and destroyed. Jeremiah had been warning them for over 2 decades. They imprisoned him just to try to shut him up. But here they were, surrounded by the Babylonians. It was only a matter of time until the Kingdom of Judah would be destroyed.
So with all the doom and gloom what does God tell Jeremiah to do? Buy a field. Now, if you know that an enemy invader is about to completely destroy your nation does it make sense to perform a real estate transaction? If an asteroid is headed for earth tomorrow, does it make sense to buy green bananas today? If the Zombie Apocalypse has started, is it really a good time to order all of your Christmas presents early on Amazon? If the world is going to go to pieces tomorrow does it make sense to plant a tree today? Luther thought so. Jeremiah, knowing that Jerusalem was about to fall to the Babylonians, went ahead and bought the field, signed the deed and put it in a clay pot for safe keeping. Why? because he trusted God.
God said that all that was about to happen to Judah, the destruction of the temple, the arrest and death of the king, the exile back to Babylon, it was all going to happen, but it was only temporary. Eventually, they would come back, the Kingdom would be restored, the temple would be rebuilt, and a new King would be installed to reign. So the question for Jeremiah is, do you trust God to keep His promise? Do you trust enough to “put your money where you mouth is” and buy the piece of land, keep the contract safe so that your heirs will have a piece of land to rebuild a house on and plant crops, and maybe an apple tree or two? How much do you trust God? Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?
Jesus would later talk about the “pearl of great price” a treasure so valuable that someone would sell everything that they had to buy it.
Some might say that right now, in the midst of a global pandemic and societal disruption it feels like we are under siege from uncontrollable forces. I’m not acting as a prophet right now. God hasn’t given me exclusive insider information about how all of this is going to end. Maybe we discover an effective vaccine? Maybe we figure out a way to restore racial harmony? Maybe not. I don’t know. Maybe we have another civil war and the United States of America will be no more? I don’t know what’s going to happen with these current crises. God used the powerful and evil nation of Babylon to punish His disobedient children 2600 years ago. Maybe God is using disease, division, death and destruction to punish his disobedient children today. Or maybe this is the devil doing what he does – “steal, kill and destroy”.
There’s a lot about our current situation I Don’t know. But what I DO know is that God is still in charge. God is still in heaven. God is still all powerful. God is still good. God made a promise that one day he would send His Son Jesus to bring a final end to sin and death, there will be a final judgment against sin, and there will a renewed heaven and earth and finally God Himself will make His permanent home in our midst (See Revelation 20, 21 and 22). I still believe that to be true. If I were a betting man in Vegas I would push all my chips onto that hand, I’d be “all in”. I don’t know how much time I personally have left before Jesus comes again or before I close my eyes in the temporary sleep of death and await the resurrection, but this I do know, I’m betting it all on God. I’ll buy that field. I’ll plant that tree. I’ll spend every day of my life telling people that God is faithful and God is good and that Jesus is coming again. I’m all in. I hope that you are too!
Pastor Jeff Fletcher
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+32-34&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 35-37 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan