Faith often seems illogical. It frequently appears to rigorously defy the present circumstances. All of our reasoning, based on what we see and hear, may lead us to conclude that faith makes no sense.
This appearance is an illusion, however. Because faith is based on the rock-solid certainty of God's declarations, it is more logical and reliable than what we can observe and deduce. Faith is not illogical, because it is based on the view of reality that is unfailing, God's view.
Because we are human, we are all susceptible to periods where we allow our view of the present conditions to override our faith. We question and doubt what God has said.
Even great men and women doubt at times. The prophet Jeremiah was once directed by God to do something very illogical. At the same moment when siege ramps were set around Jerusalem, when its destruction was imminent, and the people were destined to go into exile, God told Jeremiah to buy a plot of land in his nearby hometown of Anathoth.
Why? Such land would surely be worthless and useless in a short time. It would be like someone today buying land on a former toxic waste dump site. Such a purchase would make no sense whatsoever.
Jeremiah knew the deed transfer he was instructed to enact made no sense whatsoever. Skeptically, he questioned God, "See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign LORD, say to me, 'Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.'" (Jeremiah 32:24-25 NIV)
We can almost hear the incredulous tone of his voice: "What! Buy the land, you say? That's nonsense!".
God's response? "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV)
Hard to argue with that, isn't it? The potent answer to God's pointed question is NO! In fact, the land purchase was to serve as a prophetic indicator, a guarantee that the Jewish people would in fact return to that covenant land. The deed would not be worthless at all, if one had eyes of faith.
There is much more to this story, however. For this land transaction of Jeremiah was not just an indicator for those days, it has prophetic significance even to today. To understand why, we have to examine the context of Jeremiah's prophecies.
Much of the Biblical book that bears his name is an acerbic denouncement of the moral evils of the people of that time, and a stark description of the resulting judgment of God. We even have a word in the English language, "jeremiad", derived from this, which means a lengthy, doleful, speech of condemnation.
Yet in the middle of his book of prophecy, there is a short segment that is like a refreshing, balmy oasis in the midst of a harsh, arid desert. Unlike much of the rest of the book, chapters 30-33 are a message of future hope and blessing. The focus of these chapters is on the latter days, on another return of the Jewish people to the promised land. In great detail, the Lord describes the many good things He intends to do for Israel as He regathers them, including the fulfillment of the promise of the Son of David to rule on Zion's throne.
It is in this context that the land purchase occurs. And when we examine the reasons for the transaction God gives in response to Jeremiah's complaint, we readily discover that they primarily refer not to the return from Babylonian captivity, but to another, future return.
"I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. "This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them." (Jeremiah 32:37-42 NIV)
All of this was said in reference to God directing Jeremiah to buy the field in Anathoth. Nine times God says, "I will", and much of this is yet unfulfilled prophecy. Some of it is even now in the process of being fulfilled: the planting the Jews back in the land with all God's heart and soul. We see this playing out in the news daily, even as many powerful political leaders attempt to stop it with the "peace process" and the "road map".
So even though Jeremiah's possession of the deed was a token indicating return from Babylonian captivity, it is even a stronger indicator of the modern return and restoration. Once we understand this, the additional details provided in the story suggest what I think may be an exciting future discovery. Look at the description of the transaction:
"So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. I took the deed of purchase--the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy-- and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard. "In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time." (Jeremiah 32:9-14 NIV)
Do you see the exciting clues yet? If those copies of the deed, placed in a clay jar according to God's instructions so that they would last a long time, are primarily symbolic of end-times developments, specifically, the promise of the modern repossession of all the covenant land, then that jar may yet be found! It is never again mentioned in the Bible; there is no indication it was ever rediscovered. Why would God tell the prophet to preserve the deed copies to "last a long time" unless they are destined to be discovered?
Therefore, I will make a daring prediction: this actual deed of Jeremiah's transaction will one day be found! If so, it will be a spectacular, stunning witness to the infallibility of God's promises. It will also be a stern, irrefutable Divine rebuke to the arrogant parties who now shamelessly try to wrest that land from Israel.
If I was in Israel now myself, I would start looking around caves near Anathoth for the clay jar containing those copies of the deed. That discovery, if it happens, may be the most sensational archaeological find ever, especially given its direct relevance to the most critical political issue of our day.
It is noteworthy that every important land purchase in the Bible has vital prophetic significance for today. Abraham's purchase at Hebron from Ephron the Hittite, Jacob's purchase at Shechem from the sons of Hamor, David's purchase of what is today the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from Araunah the Jebusite -- all of these are hot spots in the current political and prophetic dispute, as the enemies of Israel try to grab each of them.
Jeremiah's "illogical" land purchase, transacted in days of crisis, should inspire us to faith that God will enact all of His promises, both to Israel, and to us as individuals. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) We can be sure, we can be certain, that regardless of how illogical it may now appear, all of the land promised to Israel will be delivered to them by the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel.