Monday, October 29, 2012


This is the hymn as originally written by John Newton.  You’ll notice stanzas normally left out of the Baptist hymnal, and that the famous last stanza was added later. 

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved:
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come:
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this heart and flesh shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine:
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Sunday, October 28, 2012



The Time

This word from the Lord comes in 588-587 B.C., the last year of Jerusalem. It is the 10th year of King Zedekiah, meaning 10 years on the throne. It was also the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon.

The Circumstances

The Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem. There may have been a temporary lull in the attack as the Babylonians withdrew in the face of an advance by the Egyptian army.
 Jeremiah was confined by the king. He was basically in jail. The king confined him because he prophesied the fall of Jerusalem and the capture of Zedekiah. The story is told in Jeremiah 37:11-21.

When you speak against the ruling authorities in any institution, they will probably punish you.  It happened to Jesus. It happened to Peter and John. And it happened to Paul.

Jeremiah stayed in custody until the Babylonians destroyed the city. (38:28)

The Word of the Lord: Buy A Field

The Lord told Jeremiah to buy a field in his home town of Anathoth.

He had the right to buy it to redeem it for a kinsman. (8) The Israelites were not allowed to permanently transfer land out of their allotment. In the Jubilee year, the 7th year in a 7 year cycle, the land went back to the original owner regardless of debts or loans. But also, a kinsman could redeem the land and keep it in the family. See Leviticus 25:23-25. We saw the principle of the kinsman redeemer at work in the book of Ruth.

So, either Hanamel wanted to sell and get out of town, or he had fallen into debt and was in danger of losing the land to a creditor.

Of course, Jeremiah would not normally have bought this field. The country was destroyed and overrun by the Babylonians. They would not recognize the ownership of the Israelites. In fact, imagine the absurdity of this situation. Jeremiah is in prison. The city is on the verge of destruction. And his cousin comes to visit him in jail and demand that he buy land from him. But God said to do it, so Jeremiah did it.

Notice the way the transaction was handled. A written deed was prepared, signed and sealed. That was to keep it from being changed or tampered with. It was kept in a jar. This is how the Dead Sea Scrolls were kept for a couple of thousand years. The deed was also witnessed by the elders in the courtyard. There was even a copy. The transaction was much like those of our time. Great care was taken to preserve the transaction for the future. 

But the reason to buy the land was not for investment value, it was an object lesson. An object lesson is a tangible expression of an intangible idea. It means to use something you can see to demonstrate an idea. God told Jeremiah the idea in verse 15: “Houses, field and vineyards will again be bought in this land”.

Jeremiah’s Prayer

Jeremiah’s prayer began well, with a doxology, or expression of praise.

1. He acknowledged God as sovereign. Sovereign means to have supreme power.
2. He acknowledged God’s creation of the earth, an example of his sovereignty.
3. He said “nothing is too hard for you”, another expression of God’s sovereignty and power.
4. He recounted God’s redemption of Israel as an example of his sovereignty and power.
5. He acknowledged that God had great purposes. (19)

Yet, Jeremiah doubted God’s power. In verse 25, he says, you gave this place over to the Babylonians but you told me to buy a field in it. In out terms, Jeremiah said, God I know you are great and powerful and can do all things, but is it not too late for you to be telling me to buy a field in this doomed city?

So Jeremiah’s confession did not really match his thinking. He knew intellectually that God could do all things. Yet, he was not sure that God could preserve this land for him or his family, or that God really knew what he was doing. Wasn’t God asking him to do something foolish?

I want to stress that Jeremiah’s questions did not lead to disobedience or even delay. He obeyed God completely and instantly. But, like Job, he then questioned why God did it.

God’s Answer

The Lord certainly recognized Jeremiah’s doubt, for he threw his words back at him. In verse 27 he said “is anything too hard for me?” This echoed Jeremiah’s words in verse 17.

The Lord said yes, I will have the Babylonians destroy this city because of the evil they have committed, their breaking of the covenant. And, in verses 29 through 35, he lists again all of their sins of idolatry. He said they turned their back to him and not their face. (33). That would be a great insult to a king.

But, the Lord said, after that, I will bring them back and prosper them. (37) This is another restatement of the promise of Deuteronomy 30:1-5.

He also said he would make a new and everlasting covenant with them. (40)

“Fields will be bought” means there will again be commerce and prosperity. And Jeremiah’s purchase of land, as God’s prophet, was a sign of this.

Notice here the nature of the relationship of the covenant people and their God. They will reverence or fear him. (40) God on his part would bring good to them and rejoice in doing so. (41) So the nature of God’s relationship to his people stays the same throughout the Bible and history, although the way it is accomplished differs.

God wants to dwell among his people. He wants them to know him and revere him. In turn, he wants to bless them. In the new covenant, those blessings may not be material, but spiritual, but God is there, dwelling among believers, and doing good to them. He rejoices in doing good for us.

So forget any notion you have that God is looking down on you as a Christian, watching for a misstep or trying to trip you up and punish you. Yes, he wants you to love him, worship him and live according to his standards. But he wants that for your good and his glory. And in return, he wants to pour out blessings on you. He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:3) He lavished his grace upon us. (Ephesians 1:7)He loves us with a great love. (Ephesians 2:4)

God wants us to glorify him. And he wants to pour out his fullness onto us, so that our lives are joyous, peaceful, loving and content.