‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth . . . ‘ (Jeremiah 32:7)
Jerusalem is under siege. The enemy has occupied their land. In the midst of this Jeremiah receives an unlikely word; his cousin will come to offer Jeremiah to buy a field. What’s the point of buying a field in a time of war when you cannot use it or occupy it? That’s insane.
Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel showed up with the offer just as God had said to Jeremiah. So he knew it was the word of the Lord. Even though logically this made no sense, Jeremiah went ahead and bought the field.
It was a prophetic act. A prophetic act is something we do in the natural that releases something in the spiritual. It was a prophetic act for Israel signifying hope and restoration. The fact that Jeremiah would buy a field in the presence of everyone to see communicated to them that sometime in the future normal social and economic life would resume. To be crystal clear, Jeremiah accompanied the act with a prophetic word; “houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)
This would make no sense to the people. Who would buy a field in a time of war? Jeremiah, the prophet. To proclaim a message to the people.
Sometimes God asks us to do unlikely things to communicate an unmistakable message. In Acts 10:1-33 Peter was asked to do something that went against the cultural norms of his Jewish upbringing; associate with or visit someone of another nation, Cornelius. But first God had to give Peter a vision of unclean animals that he was asked to eat three times before he would be ready to meet Cornelius. To help Peter along even more, the Sprit directed Peter to go up with the three men looking for him at the door. Once Peter put all the pieces together, he realized that God was including the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit fell on them. What a wonderful Pentecost message!
Through the obedience of Peter to the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of God was made accessible to another group of people, the outsiders. The act of going to Cornelius’ house was prophet and unlikely. But God accompanied the message with an unmistakable sign: the Holy Spirit fell on them and they spoke in tongues and praised God (Acts 10:44-46).
Let us not be slow to obey the Holy Spirit when he asks us to do something unlikely. It may well be a prophetic act that opens up the good news of Jesus to people around us. Who knows, God may even accompany it with an unmistakable sign!
By Ralph Veenstra