What I’m Thinking: Field of Hope

It was an odd time to buy a field, but Jeremiah did it as a sign of hope.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the thirty-second chapter of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15), in which the prophet bought a field.

It seems like an unusual story to appear in the midst of a book of prophecy, although Jeremiah had performed other sorts of prophetic actions. That is, he would do something that was intended to be symbolic of God’s message, wearing a yoke, for example, in public. In this case, however, Jeremiah’s purchase of the field seemed really ill timed.

Jeremiah himself was a prisoner of prisoner of the king. Jeremiah had been pretty much systematically irritating King Zedekiah for some time, but it wasn’t just Jeremiah that was in trouble. It was also Zedekiah and all of the people of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was, at the time, besieged by a foreign army,

So why go buying a field?

The story as reported in the book is chock full of legal detail: the preparation of documents, and Jeremiah’s direction to have them properly preserved in a jar so that they wouldn’t deteriorate, so that they will last a long time. What’s the point of all this? Because you knew there had to be a point. Well, it comes in the last verse of Sunday’s reading: “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.”

Some years ago there was a fairly popular movie called Field of Dreams in which somebody was encouraged to build a baseball field so that the ghosts of deceased players could come and play one more time. This was Jeremiah’s Field of Hope.

It was the field that he wasn’t sure he would ever see because it lay outside the city walls. It was a field that he didn’t know if he would ever plant because when the city fell he might easily be among the slain. It was a field that as far as Jeremiah knew would end up in the possession of the besiegers, of the Babylonians.

But the careful transfer of the property, the meticulous documentation, the signatures, and preserving everything in a jar. It didn’t matter whether the field itself ever got into Jeremiah’s possession. What mattered was that it had become a sign of hope for Jeremiah himself and for the people to whom he bore witness of God’s will and intent.

Jeremiah had spent most of his life telling the leadership, telling the people, that God was not happy. And indeed God was not. In this moment Jeremiah heard another word: that God does not abandon those who are held in the love of God. So yes, things are bad — but there will be fields to be planted in, vineyards to be tended. There will be children and there will be the wisdom of elders. There will be a future.

What, my friends, is your Field of Hope? What is part of your life that lets you know that God loves you into the future?

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on September 19, 2022

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