The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.
Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: 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.’ Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 32:1-2, 6-8 ESV
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! Psalm 57:1-3 ESV
Have you ever heard of a white elephant? A white elephant is something a person has that is useless to him or her, something that isn’t needed and perhaps is a bother to take care of. In Haiti there is a fortress called the Citadel La Ferriere. It sits in the mountains on 20 acres of land and has walls that are up to 130 feet high. When it was built it was equipped with a printing shop, garment factories, a hospital, schools, a distillery, a chapel, and military barracks, and it also had 365 cannons and a large supply of cannon balls. The Haitian King Henri started building it in 1805 so that he could defend himself against an invasion from France, but the French never attacked him, and none of the cannons was ever fired. The Citadel La Ferriere still sits on top of its mountain, but now it’s a historic monument. This fortress might be considered a white elephant, something that the people of Haiti didn’t really need and that took a lot of effort and hard labor to build.
When God spoke to Jeremiah about buying a field from his cousin Hanamel, the prophet was being held in prison, and many people hated him because he had told them that the city of Jerusalem was going to fall to the Babylonians. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar were besieging the city, and the whole country was weak and devastated. Jeremiah must have felt as if God were asking him to buy a white elephant. In prison, with a foreign army surrounding Jerusalem, why would he want to buy some land? What could he possibly do with it? But when his cousin came to sell him the field, just as the Lord had said, Jeremiah knew that God must have a purpose in this.
Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s purposes in the things that happen, and it can be hard to obey God’s will when it doesn’t seem to make sense. But the Lord promises that he will always accomplish what he plans to, no matter what happens. When he sent Jesus into the world, it was hard for many people to recognize the promised Savior. He wasn’t a noble prince or a mighty soldier, but a humble and gentle teacher. When he was put on a cross to die, everyone thought that he couldn’t have been the one that God had promised to send. But God’s purposes were working through Jesus’ death to defeat sin and all the forces of evil, and Jesus came out of the grave the first Easter to show his victory over death and the devil. Because of Jesus, we can always be sure that God’s purposes will stand, and that he will always work good for his people.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to always trust in your purposes, and keep us close to you whatever happens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.