God and His Monopoly

Talk about a strange set of circumstances! Jeremiah is in prison. The enemy, the Chaldeans, are invading the land and have already captured Jeremiah’s hometown. Then God tells him that his cousin is going to come and ask him to redeem, buy, his field in Jeremiah’s hometown. The land had already been lost to the invading army and Hanameel, his cousin, is trying to get Jeremiah to redeem it from him. And to add to that, the Lord tells him to purchase it! You would think that if you could get a man to do that, you could sell him a nice little farm in Antarctica!

But God had said, “Buy it,” and Jeremiah obeys as he always did, purchases the field, gives the deed to his servant Baruch, and charges him to put it in a safe place. He does so, with the promise that day is coming when “fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land” (Jer 32:15).

Having dutifully complied with the instructions of God, Jeremiah now becomes a man with whom we can identify more readily as he struggles with why God asked him to purchase a field that was in the hands of the enemy. Jeremiah 32:17-25 is his plaintive prayer to God which can be summarized with one word: “Why?”

In typical grace, God answered His confused prophet. In His response, God describes Himself as the “God of ALL flesh” (v 27). Immediately upon revealing Himself in that manner, God added, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” God has a monopoly on humanity in the sense that He has not abdicated control of the universe. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads throughout the world, He is sitting on the same throne on which He sat when men took His Son and placed Him on a cross. God is the God of all flesh. Satan may incite men to evil. There are powers of darkness working their carefully devised strategies as Paul tells us (Eph 6:11, 12), but God is still over all. “Satan may fuel the ship of evil, but God is able to steer it where He desires it to go.”

God may have many different reasons for allowing the current pandemic. Human philosophy may respond as did Blaise Pascal, centuries ago, by writing, “All human misfortune comes from one thing alone, that is, not knowing how to be at rest in one’s own room.” He continues: “From this it follows that human beings so love noise and commotion, as well as the fact that prison is such horrible agony. And from this it follows that the pleasure of solitude is so incomprehensible.” We are not accustomed to being alone.

What would our forefathers who endured privation for fifteen years, 1930-1945, with food stamps, depression, shortages, and war, think of our complaining about a few months of difficulty. We are all very accustomed to plenty. Did we need a lesson in want?

God takes no pleasure in human suffering; but there are times when after whispering to us and our failure to listen, the only way to get our attention is to shout at us through some major tragedy. We may not ever totally know all that God is doing through the current pandemic, but we have to remember that He is still the God of ALL flesh and is in total control of nations, presidents, premiers, and medical researchers. He is also the God Who is our God and in control of our lives. 

God is not asking you to buy a field that has already been lost to the enemy (nor a farm in Antarctica), He is asking us to trust Him and His wisdom as we navigate our way through the days of lockdown. God is in control. He is the God of ALL flesh. But it is up to you to wash your hands for 20 seconds and to have your tape measure handy to keep your social distance of six feet from anyone else.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

You likely do not read the book of Lamentations very often. It is a sad, heart-rending sob from the heart of Jeremiah. He was standing amidst the rubble of a once-great city, Jerusalem. The Chaldean nation had come and destroyed it. We are back in 586 BC. The unthinkable had happened! The poetic book reads almost like a funeral dirge, a long, low song in the minor key, expressing the grief of Jeremiah’s heart. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, looked upon the devastation and ruin, the end result of a nation’s rebellion, and wept.

It was a sad day. No longer were the pilgrims streaming up to Zion to worship. The streets were now empty; the collective worship of God ceased. Had the work and things of God come to a standstill?

Fortunately, we can turn from the melancholy versification of Jeremiah to a few triumphant notes he strikes amidst his grief. Listen to the expression of his faith rising amidst the ashes of the city, “His compassions fail not; they are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam 3:22, 23) It does not end there, he closes his lamentations with one of the great expressions of confidence and faith, “Thou O Lord remainest for ever, Thy throne from generation to generation” (5:19).

Jeremiah lived amidst change and confusion. While he had prophesied of the coming invasion, the majority of Israelites were taken by surprise. They had thought that something such as this would never happen. Jeremiah himself was overwhelmed when the reality was realized.

But Jeremiah’s refuge is the same refuge which each of us has in difficult days. While we have the prospect of being able to meet in the near future and have not suffered devastation, we have been under “siege” by a pandemic. We have known confusion and perplexity. Where do we turn? 

Jeremiah turned to what was the single constant in a changing world: The throne of God remains, unchanged from age to age. Men come and go; disasters move in and then subside; dictators rise and fall – God remains.

Linked with that throne is a God, not only of stability and constancy, but One marked by compassion, mercy, and faithfulness (3:22, 23). So comforting are the words of Jeremiah in chapter 5:19, that many of the rabbis wanted the book to end with those words of hope. But for us, the truth remains whether in verse 19 or at the end of chapter 5.

We need not despair or become discouraged as we look above to a throne that is unmovable and unassailable.