Last night as I was reading this week's Haftarah portion (Jeremiah 32:6-27), the scenario jumped right off the pages at me. The story came alive as I was able to really see what was going on for Jeremiah in his day.
The story starts out that God spoke to Jeremiah, and told him that his cousin Hanamel was going to come to Jeremiah to ask him to purchase a field back in his home town of Anatot even though Jeremiah had been living in Jerusalem for quite some time. It is evident from the text that even Jeremiah was surprised by this because after Hanamel does this, Jeremiah says, "Then I was certain that this was the word of HaShem."
The story goes on to describe, in great detail, the real estate transaction. As I am a real estate agent and have worked in a real estate law office, I could not believe how similar the transaction described was to our present day method. They had a purchase contract ("with the terms and conditions") and had two witnesses sign it. Then they had a sealed copy and unsealed copy, which they placed in a clay jar to be preserved for a long time. Amazing!
However, the most surprising thing about this story is the situation surrounding the transaction. Most people in America today are aware that timing is everything when it comes to purchasing and selling real estate, especially down here in Florida. A couple of years ago, prices were soaring and those who had bought a few years before that were happy. Now, however, prices are very low and foreclosures are the rule, instead of the exception. This is what we call a declining real estate market (although I hope ours is not declining anymore!).
You see, Jeremiah was buying that field at Anatot in a MAJORLY declining real estate market. The Babylonians were slowly, but surely hammering their way across Israel and taking captives back to Babylon. Jeremiah, of course, knew what was happening as HaShem was telling him. The inspiring part is that despite what the situation looked like on the outside, Jeremiah trusted God. Even though he knew that most of the Jews were to be taken as captives to Babylon, Jeremiah also knew, in his mind and heart, the promise of God to return them to the Land of Israel.
This is why after the real estate "closing", Jeremiah prays a prayer of thanksgiving to God. After this, God responds,
This is so important for us to remember in our present day life, that nothing is too difficult for our God! He has made many promises to His people, and not a single one of them has He ever went back on. Maybe your situation doesn't look good today, but like Jeremiah, look at His promises. As the Scripture says, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread." God has proven Himself as a "Promise Keeper" 100% of the time, so we really have nothing to worry about. Put your faith in God, and meditate on His promises! Be encouraged today!