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32. Jeremiah Buys a Field

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. 3For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; 5And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper?

6And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 7Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. 8So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. 9And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. 10And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. 11So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: 12And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.

13And I charged Baruch before them, saying, 14Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. 15For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

16Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the Lord, saying, 17Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: 18Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, 19Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: 20Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; 21And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; 22And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them: 24Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. 25And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

26Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, 27Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? 28Therefore 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: 29And 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. 30For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the Lord. 31For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face, 32Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. 34But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. 35And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

36And 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; 37Behold, 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: 38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39And 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: 40And 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. 41Yea, 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. 42For 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. 43And 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. 44Men 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.

He goes on with the same subject, for he expresses his wonder and admiration as to God’s judgments. he first declares that God is great in counsel and great in work By counsel, he understands the wisdom of God, which not only surpasses all our thoughts, but also absorbs them. And then he mentions the execution of his counsel, which affords evidences of that wisdom which appears to us. By the works of God we learn how great and how unequalled is his wisdom: for that in itself cannot be comprehended, nay, men could not have the least knowledge of it, except it were rendered conspicuous by works. The works of God then through their excellency are evidences of his immeasurable wisdom. For this reason and in this sense the Prophet calls God great in counsel and great in work

He adds, that his eyes are open on all the ways of men By these words he intimates that he is the judge of the whole world, and that whatever men may consult, speak, or do, must come to a reckoning. The meaning is, that the providence of God so extends to all parts of the world, that the works of men cannot possibly be hid from him, and that no one can escape his hand; for after having spoken of God’s eyes, he adds, that he may render to every one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings

The Prophet then does not speak here of any idle speculation such as ungodly men entertain; for they confess that all things are seen by God, but imagine that he is satisfied with having only this bare knowledge; and thus they deprive him of the dignity and office of a judge. But the Prophet here shews what the end of God’s providence is, why God has his eyes open, even that he may at last produce at his tribunal all the sayings and doings of men, yea, their thoughts also. We are further taught by these words that our life cannot be rightly formed, unless we bear in mind the presence of God, so as to know that his eyes are on us, and that there is nothing hid from him: for whence is there so much liberty in sinning, except that men grow wanton like fugitives? as when a rebellious son withdraws himself from the eyes of his father, he can then abandon himself wholly to sin, for he is freed from all fear and shame. So our thoughtlessness is like a flight, for we think that we are far removed from God. This then, as I have said, ought always to be remembered, that the eyes of God are open on all our ways, and for this end, — that he may render to every one according to his ways, and that every one may gather the fruit of his own doings.

Though, then, God for a time may connive at what we do, and may not manifestly shew that he is the judge of men, there is no reason that indifference should creep over us, as though we could escape from his hand; but let us know that all our doings and sayings are now noticed by him, that he may hereafter shew that he is not an idle observer, as some ungodly men dream, but that he is an eye-witness of all things, that he may at last appear as our judge.

This passage is turned by Papists for the support of merits by works; but it is a frivolous attempt; for when Scripture declares that it shall be rendered to every one according to his works, it does not exclude the gratuitous mercy of God; and when God renders a reward to the faithful, it depends on gratuitous pardon, because he forgives them whatever would otherwise vitiate their good works: and to speak more exactly, God does not render to the faithful according to their works, except as he gratuitously pardons them and forgives whatever they have done amiss. Reward then depends on the free mercy of God only. As to the wicked, it is no wonder that a just reward is said to be rendered to them;for we know that they are worthy of eternal perdition, and that God is a righteous judge when he punishes their sins. It follows, —


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