What Did Jeremiah Build?        

The young priest Jeremiah lived in Anathoth, just 2 miles NE of Jerusalem. The revivalist Josiah was king of Judah, but the people continued to worship their idols. So in 627BC the Lord appointed Jeremiah to be his prophet to the nations, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.  Jer 15,10  
He faithfully preached and wept over Judah for over 40 years; but no one believed or took any notice of the Almighty God. So, as he had warned them, he sent Nebuchadnezzar to completely destroy both Jerusalem and the Temple, and the people were exiled to Babylon.
Jeremiah clearly witnessed a devastating destruction, but what did he build?

It could be summarised by two events (Jer 25 and 36).

The first was in 604BC after Jeremiah had been preaching for 23 years. It was in the 4th year of the evil king Jehoiakim, shortly after Nebuchadnezzar had taken Daniel and many of Judah’s most able men to Babylon. God told his prophet: “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”  Jer 362,3

So Jeremiah called his scribe Baruch, and they obeyed. Each word was carefully written on a long scroll. (Not by pressing one button on a modern computer). After about a year, in the 9th month in the 5th year of Jehoiakim, Baruch read it all in the Temple and then again to the officials. In great fear they told Baruch and Jeremiah to go and hide, while they took the scroll and Jehudi read it to Jehoiakim. The king did not like it. So with measured contempt for God’s word, as each section of the scroll was read, he took a knife, cut it off, and tossed it into a brazier. How do we know about this brazen and blasphemous act? A little man with a knife and a fire cannot destroy God’s Word. Jeremiah and Baruch re-wrote all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.  Jer 3632

Today we still have the privilege of having these 52 prophetic chapters in the Bible. People can ignore God’s prophet or burn a scroll or even the men like Tyndale, who translated and printed it. But no mere man can destroy what the Almighty has written.  The Word that God has ‘built’ will stand for ever.  Is 408

Jehoiakim continued his wicked reign for a further six years. Followed by Zedekiah, who was equally wicked. After 10 years, Nebuchadnezzar, not knowing that he was following God’s instruction ( Hab 15,6), came and laid siege to Jerusalem. His vast army surrounded Jerusalem - and that included Anathoth. Jeremiah had been warning the people for four decades that this was God’s plan - the just consequence for their sin and disobedience, their determination to ignore the Lord God and continue their evil way of life. But Jer 32 records a most intriguing and unexpected incident; a short anecdote of family history.  And this is the 2nd event that records what Jeremiah built.

It was 586BC. Jeremiah was in the palace prison. And the word of the Lord came to him. Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”  328   Hanamel had escaped from Anathoth to Jerusalem when the Babylonian army came and camped there. What sort of fool did he think Jeremiah was? It was certainly confirmed when Jeremiah so readily agreed!!  He even agreed to pay the full price of 17 shekels of silver! But Hanamel did not realise that the Lord God had already told his prophet that his cousin would come with this ridiculous plan, and had instructed him to buy the family land. Jeremiah paid. And he and Baruch made certain that the deeds where properly witnessed and duplicated. They then sealed them in an earthenware vessel and buried them; that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.  3215

Scripture is silent concerning the response of the witnesses who heard this, his reasoning for the purchase. Jeremiah knew that he would not live to see this, for God had told him that Judah would be exiled and the Temple not rebuilt for 70 years. He knew and believed God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants was eternal. I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”  Gen 177,8

So Jeremiah prayed, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you ...”  3217

Then the Lord assured him, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Therefore, thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans ...
for the children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the LORD. This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight. ...
Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God ...
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. ...
and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”

Thus Almighty God extended the little local family history to apply to the Jewish nation for the next two and a half thousand years and beyond. No doubt the sealed vessel is still there in the ruins under the city of Jerusalem. Maybe an archeologist will one day find it. But even if it is never found, we know what was written and that God has fulfilled his word to Jeremiah, and always will. Nebuchadnezzar did destroy the city and the Temple and the Jews did return and rebuild the city, the walls and the Temple.

But they failed to learn the vital lesson. So God had to repeat the destruction of city and Temple again in 70AD; this time by the Romans. Today the Jews are back in Jerusalem, and building again in their old city. Almighty God is still faithfully concerned about the stone for houses and real-estate that he gave to Abraham over 4,000 years ago. Men may forget and break their promises, but God never does. However the ‘building’ that God revealed to Jeremiah was not just the rebuilding achieved by Joshua and Zerubbabel or by Herod or by the Jews today. The building of a righteous nation has always proved impossible to men. Almighty God has to do the building. As Jeremiah prayed ‘Nothing is too hard for God’.   Only Christ, the Son of God, could enable the redemption, the forgiveness of sin and vital propitiation of our sin. Only by the perfect sacrifice of Christ crucified and risen could enable God’s eternal righteous kingdom be built.

Jeremiah saw this great truth in the distance. This is the revelation of the ‘building’ that God gave to the weeping, aching, believing heart of Jeremiah. He was one of the many about whom the writer to the Hebrews tells us:  These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  Heb 1113-16

Today the faithful Sovereign Lord is still revealing this ‘building’ truth; so that men will plead with God for mercy and come to know that the LORD is their God. He is faithful to all he promised to his servant, the prophets. Although the world is becoming more wicked by the hour, the Lord is busy building what he revealed to his prophet Jeremiah. His plan will not be diverted. It is ‘sealed’ with all the authority of the Great Creator, the King of Kings.

Jeremiah still proclaims the revealed truth:
When Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’ ...
With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. ...
He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD.

Jer 322-14
This promise of God is being fulfilled.
Almighty God will complete the building.

Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. ... in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Heb 1226-28

Why?   Because it is God who is building it!