Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Should I Buy and Why Should I Build?

Lamentations is one of the fiercest books of the Bible.  The prophet dares to know that God is good when there is not a speck of hope, when people are suffering and dying and refusing to listen.  He declares God’s mercy, bowed for the sake of man’s sinfulness.  And God can take everything, but this worship will stay – not the tender worship, but the hoarse shout of desperate truth, aching but glad that God is right and mighty and still good. 

Judah thought they would escape Israel’s fate.  They had false prophets saying that things were well when things were terribly wrong.  Their king rallied morale and insisted that God’s faithfulness would preserve the country from destruction.  I don’t know why he thought the suffering already going on would have a limit.  In typical Jewish fashion, maybe they were all just unable to believe that God would let another, more wicked, nation have the victory. 

Nebuchadnezzar’s armies marched.  They besieged.  Our peaceful, “civilized” imaginations can barely accept the horrors Jerusalem endured before falling.  The noble and the rich – even the faith-full – were targeted and taken, relocated and enslaved.  Babylonians were triumphant and proud.  Jews were devastated and sad. 

Then God does something for them that shows He is a God of Hope and Love and Promises:  "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. …For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." 

And a few chapters later, God told Jeremiah to buy land.  Buy land!  Land about to be taken away by foreign invaders.  The prophet is obedient, but he wants to know why.  He acknowledges the righteousness of God that has brought calamity on Judah.  And he says he knows nothing is too hard for God…
            “Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. …And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD."

Nothing is too difficult for God.  Even when things are darkest, there is nothing stopping Him from restoring what was lost.  The question is “What will God do?” 

And then the question, the glory of man to ask their God, is “Why?” 

To God be all glory. 

(Scriptures from Jeremiah 29 and 32)


Kirkwood said...

How interesting. I have heard of those who - expecting Christ to return momentarily, have sold homes and property, only to loose home and property to a false and unbiblical prediction. But this is "backwards" -- because of forthcoming juggement... and the mercy of God... buy. Who whould have imagined such?

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Good point. I hadn't thought of that. I figure God made this buying and building world on purpose, even though He knew it wouldn't last forever. And we get to be here even though our days are like a vapor. So there must be a reason.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn