It is one thing for a child to say she trusts her father, but another to jump into his arms from the side of the pool! Likewise, Jeremiah previously had been declaring a message of hope, but now he was told to perform an action illustrating trust in God’s word.
The chapter begins on the brink of Jerusalem’s fall. The Babylonian armies had arrived, Jerusalem was surrounded, and the siege had begun. Defeat was imminent and inevitable, just as the Lord had predicted. And yet, God instructed Jeremiah to buy a field back in his hometown. Jeremiah fully obeyed, but everything about the circumstances would suggest that this was a preposterous idea—a complete waste of money. We see something of that sentiment in Jeremiah’s prayer to God. He confessed everything he knew about God—His power, His character, His knowledge, His faithfulness—yet the end of the prayer indicates Jeremiah’s own doubt. Why would the Lord ask him to buy a field in a nation soon to be overtaken and destroyed by the enemy?
God’s response to Jeremiah gives the answer (vv. 36–44). It may have appeared that the end was near and all was lost, but God had additional plans—to return the people, restore their prosperity, and renew an “everlasting covenant” with them (v. 40). On the surface, things may have looked bleak, but as Jeremiah confessed earlier (and God repeated later), nothing was too hard for the Lord (vv. 17, 27). Sometimes God’s word may appear like an impossibility in the face of external circumstances, but for our God nothing is impossible—and we can trust His word, and live in accordance with His promises. Jeremiah’s real estate actions, as absurd as they may have seemed at the time, demonstrate this important truth.