What do you consider the greatest act of faith in the Bible? Some might say it was Abraham about to sacrifice his son on the altar. Others say it was Israel crossing the Red Sea. Others might point to Joshua and Israel’s march around the city of Jericho, acting as if they already owned it and were just scoping out their territory. Those certainly were incredible acts of faith. But to me, today’s passage is just about the greatest one. First, let’s look at Jeremiah’s actions, and then I’d like to make my case that in some ways it was even greater than the acts of faith mentioned prior. And then I’d like to show why this is especially relevant to us today—maybe even more directly relevant than the others.
These events happened during the last days of Judah as an independent nation. They'd rebelled against God and his ways one too many times, and now they were facing the final consequences. If you’ve been reading Jeremiah’s book, then you know who much “doom and gloom” was contained in his overall message. He'd predicted the Lord's judgment on Israel thru the nation of Babylon over and over and over and over. Now the capital city was under siege, and the time was quickly approaching in which everyone—from king down to beggar—would be subject to the tender mercies of the Babylonians.
And a word came from the Lord: “Your uncle is about to come to you (while you’re under house arrest) and offer you a chance to buy some land. You’re next in line to buy the land and redeem it so that it stays in the family. When he offers it, buy it.”
Let’s ponder that for a moment. Jeremiah’s under house arrest, so he has no means of income, just some money he's saved up. The Babylonians are about to come in and take over. Do you think they give a rat’s behind as to who owns what land?! Of course not! They’re about to come in, take possession of everything, and parcel it out to whomever they please.
When you’re in a city under siege, and you know that the enemy will succeed (which Jeremiah did), it’d be foolish in the extreme to give over hard currency (silver) for a land title that’s about to become worthless.
Unless…that’s what God told you to do. Then it’s the wisest thing you could do.
Just like everyone else, he saw the Babylonian army at the gates. But Jeremiah knew something that his fellow countrymen couldn’t see: “Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” He knew from God Almighty that in just 70 years, the exiles would be released from captivity and would be allowed to return and rebuild their nation. That army that right now stood with its boot on the necks of every known nation in the world would—in 70 years, one generation or so—be overthrown. And he put his money where his mouth, or rather his faith—was.
So why do I rank this the equal—or even higher—of Abraham’s faith, or Moses’ faith, or Joshua’s faith? Look, I’m not their judge. Maybe the Lord considers them to be greater. But I want to point out something: Each of these men had seen out and out miracles in their lives. Abraham had seen the destruction of Sodom and the birth of Isaac. Moses had seen countless miracles. Joshua as well.
But Jeremiah? He’d seen visions, and he heard a voice, supposedly from God. Any spectacular miracles or signs or wonders? Not to my knowledge.
All he had was the word of the Lord. He was sure God had spoken, and that was enough.
My friend, I think that’s extremely relevant to us today. Sure, you might’ve seen God working providentially in your life. But have you seen anything on the scale of Moses or Joshua? Probably not. But you have the same thing Jeremiah had: God’s word.
God has made lots of promises to you, and most of them haven’t been fulfilled yet, like the ones concerning your eternal home. But like Jeremiah, you can decide that you’re going to trust your Father. Despite what you’re seeing right now at this moment, you’re going to walk by faith, not by sight.
Or not. The choice if yours.
Father God, I do trust you. Help me to trust you. And like Jeremiah, give me the strength to show my faith in tangible, sacrificial ways.