Our motto for 1970
circles round the declaration of Jeremiah in chapter 32,
verse 17 of his prophecies: "Ah, Lord Jehovah...
there is nothing too hard (wonderful) for thee."
This declaration was made in circumstances of extreme
difficulty. Recall that situation.
Jeremiah was himself in prison, perhaps in a dungeon. His
ministry, after forty years, was in a state of suspense,
perhaps finished personally. Jerusalem was besieged by
the Chaldeans, and about to be taken, and the land
overrun and destroyed. The people were about to be taken
into far captivity, and Jeremiah knew that it would be
for seventy years.
In that seemingly hopeless situation the Lord told
Jeremiah that his cousin Hanamel would be coming to him
as the next of kin who had the right of redemption to ask
Jeremiah to buy - redeem - the family land, the field in
Anathoth. It may have been a bit of shrewd business on
the part of Hanamel for Jeremiah might most likely be
killed and the field be lost if it had not been redeemed.
Perhaps Hanamel was not accepting Jeremiah's gloomy
prophecies and still believed that the country would be
saved. However, for Jeremiah it was another situation;
his prophecies were - he knew - going to come true. To
buy the field was either foolhardiness or faith. He
proceeded in faith, and carried out the transaction
meticulously; and he left no question as to whose right
it was. So Hanamel had been, and the Deed of Purchase was
signed, sealed, and settled. Jeremiah, by right of
redemption, was the owner of a field which, for long
years, would lie under the heel of a foreign power. For himself,
he knew that he would never occupy it. Was he - maybe -
enacting a parable which had a far greater context? Was
the far-seeing Spirit of God making Jeremiah's action a
prophecy? Was there Another Redeeming Kinsman in the
shadows of Jeremiah's transaction, One who would redeem
His rightful inheritance and have to wait long years,
while the enemy - the prince of this world - ruled in it?
Was Jeremiah just yielding to the pressure of
No, two things governed his action. One, God had told him
to buy the field, and his dream, vision, verbal
intimation (whatever it was) concerning Hanamel had come
to pass. Two, his own prophecies had contained a break in
the far-distant horizon, seventy years hence, and that
was a ray of hope in the dark present. On that streak of
light his faith acted, and, not thinking of himself, he
acted for posterity. Someone has spoken of his action as
"faith staking a claim". But, as is usually the
case, faith was tested by
Jeremiah suffered this
come-back. He seems to have come alive to the
implications of what he had done, and a battle took
place. He had to call to his help the omnipotence and
sovereignty of God. "Ah, Lord, Jehovah, behold, thou
hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power
and by thine outstretched arm; there is nothing too hard
This, surely, is a foreshadowing of "the faith of
the Son of God".
Now, there are some valuable lessons for us in this
1. There are times when we are so sure that the Lord has
led us in a certain way, to take a certain course, to do
a certain thing, or to a certain purpose. It comes to us
with much life and assurance. At the time there seems to
be real corroboration that it is of the Lord. Even our
Hanamels turn up on time. We make our committal, set
ourselves to the call or demand, and faith is all agog.
Then, we are invaded by the adverse forces, like the
prison in which we are found, or like the armies of the
Chaldeans besieging. The temptation is to wonder if we
have been mistaken, misled, and a trick has been played
on us. A battle in the dark ensues and the whole question
of the faithfulness of God is raised.
How true to history it is that the Lord's people, and His
servants in particular, can never take a position with
Him without - sooner or later - being tested severely by
that very position! That important factor in Jeremiah's
action must be borne in mind. Jeremiah acted without any personal
interest influencing him. He was detached from his
action, for he knew that he would not live to see the
redemption made good. Faith was selfless and looked
beyond his own lifetime. That is a very real test of its
genuineness. Such thoughts never weakened his action!
Perhaps the very reactions and assaults of doubt are only
allowed in order to test the quality of faith.
A dungeon and an enemy host are sufficient to test the
reality of vision!
2. "While we look, not at the things that are seen,
but at the things which are not seen."
Jeremiah had an overwhelming amount of the impossible,
the "too hard" in his seen situation. It would
have been so easy at any time to surrender to existing
conditions. Every servant of God who has been given
"the heavenly vision", and been made acquainted
with God's "eternal purpose" has, after a
thoroughgoing committal, and some encouraging
corroborations, come to the time of severe testing by
circumstances which raise ultimate questions. The
conditions argue that it is a vain hope; life will pass
Think of the vision of Peter, John, Paul, and then
consider the state of the churches. They must have had
some vision which eclipsed and transcended "the
things which are seen". Paul said: "... we look
at the things which are not seen."
"Things", not imaginations, make-beliefs,
vapours, but actual things not seen. These are the
"eternal" and, like Jeremiah, the horizon of
realization is beyond this hour.
How easy - to our time-fettered life - it would be to say
that the Church is in ruins and irreparable; we labour in
vain if we pour our lives out for the ideal! Well, the
saints of old, the Prophets, the Apostles, and above all,
our Lord Jesus in His humiliation, rebuke us. "Faith
is the title deeds of things not seen." Jeremiah
with the Deeds of Anathoth fits right in there.
Jeremiah linked this whole issue with God's Throne. This
is the refuge of the sorely tried in faith. "There
is nothing too hard for thee."
3. We must ask the Lord to, first, cleanse our hearts of
all personal, and worldly motives and interests; to plant
the Cross fairly and squarely in our soul-ambition, and
then enable us to "buy the field" in
"A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Jan-Feb 1970, Vol. 48-1