Jeremiah 32: A Pledge of Land
A Favorite from August 29, 2010.
God made a promise to Abraham to bring him descendants, renown and a land in which his progeny might be secure. In return, Abraham and his descendants were to obey God, worship him only, and keep to him always. Today we read about a time when the Promised Land is breaking into factions and falling into hostile hands. The covenant into which the chosen had entered has come undone; the descendants of Abraham have been taken into exile to be scattered by the four winds. All looks bleak and yet, God tells Jeremiah, redemption, healing, transformation and restoration are all possible. Indeed, all of this is at hand. This is how much God loves us.
Some few of us prefer the solitary life but most humans look for security in a landholding either individually or as part of a group. Private homes, rented and purchased apartments, communes, even tent cities of the homeless indicate this common yearning to have a place we call home and in which we might be secure. Many of us go home for a holiday. We look toward the end of a day when we might go home to kick off the worries of work to rejuvenate for the next morning. The people who had once known the protection and security of the pillar of fire and smoke in the desert now suffer the insecurity of not knowing where they will lay their head at night. They are vulnerable to the whims of capricious captors. The siege works have arrived at the city to breach it; the city will be handed over to the Chaldeans who are attacking it, amid sword, famine, and pestilence.
And what does God reply when his people ask to be rescued from these hopeless circumstances? Is anything impossible to me?
It is true that in the next portion of this story the people are handed over to their attackers as a consequence of their having abandoned the terms of their covenant with God. It is true that in this story God puts Israel out of sight for the incense they burned to Baal and the libations they poured to strange gods. It is also true that even as God promises to hand over the corrupt ones to the king of Babylon he also will gather the lost together from all lands to which they were banished. He will bring them back to the same place to settle them in safety. The Lord God says, they shall be my people and I will be their God. One heart and one way I will give them that they may hold me in awe always, to their own good and that of their children after them. I will make them an eternal covenant, never cease doing good to them; into their hearts I will put an overpowering love of me, that they may never depart from me. I will take delight in doing good to them: I will replant them firmly in this land, with all my heart and soul.
Perhaps the soul yearns for the security of a firm relationship with God just as the mind yearns for a pledge of land through which to be secure. Imagine what a world it might be if we sought the security of the pledge of the heart . . . rather than a pledge of land.