“I will give them singleness of heart and action” (Jeremiah 32:39)

Pastor Ino

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Welcome to our first worship service of 2023. I pray that this new year, we will look to our Savior and have a new sense of hope. The word “hope” has a lovely ring to it. May today’s message bring hope to you.

In my last sermon on the book of Jeremiah, the key verse was Jeremiah 31:31. Which said, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.’” When God talked about the new covenant, he was also talking about bringing a whole new era. The New Testament era began with Jesus’ birth. In this new era, we are living under grace. Through today’s passage, let us spend time thinking about the grace and hope that’s available to us now.

With that, let’s turn to Jeremiah chapter 32. At the time of this chapter’s events, Jerusalem had been destroyed by Babylon the year before. Verse 1 shows that this chapter took place during the 10th year of Zedekiah king of Judah, the year 587 BC. Because Jeremiah prophesied the fall of the kingdom of Judah by Babylon’s hand, he was imprisoned by the King Zedekiah; and during this time of confinement God’s word came to him.

Verses 6 and 7 say: “The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’” In the law there was this provision for buying land: If someone became poor and had to sell his property, then his relatives had a right or a responsibility to buy that land back. This was to prevent strangers from possessing the land that God had gifted to his people. The law encouraged people to help to restore their relatives who fell on hard times.

Anathoth was Jeremiah’s birthplace, and Hanamel was his cousin who wanted Jeremiah to buy a field there. But think it about for a moment. Jerusalem and the surrounding area was already besieged by Babylon’s army. Likely, the area where Hanamel’s field lay was occupied by Babylonian soldiers. In other words, Hanamel asked Jeremiah to buy land that had become basically worthless.

But Jeremiah believed it was God’s will, that his town would be rebuilt after Judah’s 70 years of exile in Babylon. He believed God was leading him to even pay silver for land that had no value.

In verse 10 he records, “I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales.” After the transaction was completed, he asked a man named Baruch to preserve the documents by sealing them in a clay jar (verse 13). Verse 15 says that in front of Baruch and other witnesses of the sale, Jeremiah said, “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” He had confidence in God’s word and could speak with such hope in front of all those people.

I believe this redemption of the land is similar to what happens with those of us who live in this new, grace-filled era. Like land that is redeemed, God has redeemed us Through Jesus’ work of redemption on the Cross, we who sinned and strayed from God were bought back by Him and made his again. We are alive because of this redemption.

Next, in verses 16 to 25, Jeremiah records his prayer. He begins by saying, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (verse 17).

At the end of the prayer he acknowledges that the current tragedy, the destruction of Judah by Babylon, was a result of his people’s sin. Verses 24 to 25: “See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’”

Then Jeremiah records God’s response to him. God’s words are written down in verses 26 to 41.

Verse 27: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Then God speaks about the destruction of Judah as fair judgment for all the evil they had done. Verse 32: “The people of Israel and Judah have provoked me by all the evil they have done—they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem.” And God describes the kind of idol worship that Judah defiled themselves with.

However, what God says in verses 37 to 41 almost seem like a complete turnaround. Let’s read verses 37 to 41: “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 and that all will then go well for them and for 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.”

Isn’t this amazing? It’s a beautiful picture of what God promises to do. He will gather again the scattered people. He will lead them back home. He will let them dwell in safety. After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, these promises were fulfilled.

“They will be my people, and I will be their God.” This blessing extends to those of us who believe in Him today. The words of God we just read are also a promise for us living today.

God said he will give his people and their descendants a singleness of heart and action. This singleness of heart means they will not led astray by false gods; instead, they will sincerely pursue God and fear him. Singleness of action means their intentions and their lives will align. For us who believe in Christ today, it means to live in a new way, receiving a righteousness that can only come from Him. Indeed, what God describes here is very much like our confession of faith when we became followers of Jesus.

In verse 40 God also mentions making a new, everlasting covenant for the sake of his people. It is the same covenant mentioned in my last sermon, on Jeremiah 31:31. It alludes to the coming of the New Testament era. To the coming of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit. It’s the same covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31.

Living in the New Testament era, we are truly blessed. Living by the grace of God, we can overflow with gratitude. We can be a people who delight in God. We can love Him, be in awe of Him, and obey Him with reverence. This is the kind of people that God says he will plant in this land.

This picture God paints is a picture of freedom from captivity, of a new covenant made through Christ, and finally, the restoration of his people at the end of time.

Let me end with a summary. Firstly, nothing is impossible for God. Both you and I are forgiven of our sins and made righteous in God’s eyes by the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Christ makes us a people who can live with singleness of heart and action. We can live by these promises God has given.

Let us embrace the joy that we are God’s people, that he has promised to bless us, and that He delights in us.

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