This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land. Jeremiah 32.14-15.
It was not a good time to be buying real estate in Jerusalem! The city was under siege and about to be overrun by the Babylonians; and Jeremiah had received God’s word again and again that deportation of the people, a long exile, and destruction of the city was in store. Yet Jeremiah is offered a plot of land there and God tells him to buy it and put the deeds somewhere safe because there is a future for Jerusalem for Jeremiah to invest in. Just two chapters earlier God has told Jeremiah: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29.10-11) and now Jeremiah has been told to act upon the promise.
I too have a hope and a future in Christ. In the Creed I declare, Sunday by Sunday, that I “look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”. I have the promise that one day, at the other side of death or of Jesus’ coming-again, there will be a new earth, raised in some way from the ruins of this old earth and joined with heaven, and on that new earth I will live in a glorious resurrection body, loving and serving the Lord Jesus forever. But, like Jeremiah, I am being called to take the promise to heart and to act on it. I am called to invest in that future.
What does that mean? I think it means what Martin Luther meant when he said that if he knew the kingdom was coming tomorrow he would go out and plant a tree. I don’t know how the world to come will relate to this present world but I know that what I do here has a consequence and an outworking there. As Tom Wright puts it, “The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit [which herald the start of the world to come] mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age.” This means doing justice and loving mercy this day … being a life-enhancing, life-giving person … simply making my corner of the world a better place in the name and power and love of Jesus.
Let it be so, Lord. Amen.