We see Jeremiah imprisoned by King Zedekiah to start this chapter. The king can’t believe that Jeremiah would prophesy that Jerusalem will fall and he’ll be captured and dragged away to Babylon, even though at that very moment the city is under siege! Like many of those who refuse to accept God’s word, he’s oblivious to the obvious.
Then the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy a field as an object lesson for what he will do with Israel in his mercy: they will again buy fields and vineyards in the land. Then Jeremiah begins a great prayer with these words:
17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
This is a constant theme throughout the OT, asserted and affirmed more than any other, that God as Creator is the ultimate justification for his purposes. And these purposes are always affirmed in the context of the redemption of his people. The Bible, after all, is redemptive history, the history of the redemption of his people.
The Lord then affirms Jeremiah’s affirmation with his own rhetorical question:
27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Uh, no! Yet how often do we treat stupid little frustrations in life or situations that don’t exactly line up with our expectations as if God is a bystander. Or worse, we blame him for malevolent intentions. As the chapter goes on we’ll see that he won’t let us get away with either, if we’re willing to believe what he says.
After he declares his power, he yet again recites the litany of Israel’s sins. You’d think they, and we, would have gotten the point by now, but I think the point isn’t to rub their noses in it. Rather, it’s purpose is to contrast the sins with the mercy and grace he will show to such sinners, both ancient and modern. In v. 36 he in effect says, you all are saying look at this calamity the Lord has brought upon you, but you are focusing on the wrong thing:
37 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. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 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. 40 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. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
Yet again the Lord points to the material-temporal while pointing to something much bigger in the spiritual-eternal. Yes he will bring Judah and Israel back to the land where they will be able to buy fields and vineyards, but what he’s really after is the heart of his people. The physical-material circumstances of his people, while important, are always secondary.
God’s people are those whose hearts he has transformed so that they will alone reverence him—singleness of heart and action is a far cry from the rebellion Israel and Judah have been guilty of for centuries. What changed? God! His “furious anger and great wrath” have been satisfied in Christ! As “Our Father who art in heaven,” he will “never stop doing good to” us, and he “will rejoice in doing” us good. He will “assuredly plant” us in the eternal land, and do it with all his being.
We can trust God’s good intentions toward us because his change of heart is not arbitrary, as it is with the God of Islam. His good intentions, i.e. his love, is based on something he has done, and demonstrated, something objectively we can point to and say, “See, look how our God loves us!” Paul tells us what that is:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God himself gave himself in the person of Christ for us! No wonder he will never stop and rejoices in doing us good. The everlasting covenant he makes with us he first made with himself in the councils of his Triune being. That is why when he forgives our sin he is faithful and just. His forgiveness is not dependent on the depth of our remorse or the sincerity of our repentance (as if we could gauge such things), but on his character! This we can live, albeit imperfectly, in the words of Isaiah:
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.