A Prayer of Disbelief

Chapter 20

Theme: A Prayer of Disbelief
Focus on: Jeremiah
Reading Portion(s): Jeremiah 32
–¬†Important Background Information
–¬†Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
Obedience to God is never easy. One of the difficulties is that we may not understand “why” God is asking us to do certain things. Those things that He asks us to do may not make much sense. Especially is this true when we try to understand the situations we find ourselves in through our human wisdom. It is then that we have to take our perplexity to God in prayer.

Sometimes there might occur disbelief in prayer. It is not lack of faith. But it is the inability of our mind to understand the power of God. Instead of looking at His power and His ability to do all things pleasing to Him we try to look at the negative circumstances that surround us. If we are very much accustomed to such negative circumstances we will find it difficult to believe the good news that God is trying to communicate to us. And God always answers the prayer of disbelief by pointing to Himself and His power to do all things.

The army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem. It was the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah. The time was very close to the final collapse of the city for in one more year’s time the city fell.

During this period God was speaking to the king and people of Judah through Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah had a difficult task. He had to preach the message of judgment to a people who did not listen to his message. Yet in spite of great mental and physical abuse against himself he fearlessly proclaimed God’s word faithfully.

God often had asked Jeremiah to do certain things in a visible manner before the people. And Jeremiah always did so in humble obedience. This was to give the people visible signs of God’s coming judgment. It was done in the hope that people will take the message to heart and repent. Yet there was no repentance.

So finally God’s time for judgment came. And the city of Jerusalem was under siege. Yet God wanted to teach Jeremiah an additional lesson. The lesson came in a very unique manner.

Now Jeremiah was confined in a prison in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah. The king had imprisoned him for speaking the message of judgment against him. Jeremiah had told the king that Jerusalem would fall and he will be taken into exile.

Now to Jeremiah in prison came the word of the Lord. God told him that Hanamel son of Shallum his uncle was going to come to him. It was further told Jeremiah that Hanamel would come to him with the request to buy his field at Anathoth because it was Jeremiah’s right and duty to buy it as his nearest relative. This was according to a custom in Israel that when a person became poor his nearest relative known as kinsman redeemer should buy his field, redeem it and possess it.

Following the word of the Lord Hanamel came to Jeremiah in his prison asking him to buy his field. Then Jeremiah knew that this was God’s will since what God had said would happen happened exactly like that. Jeremiah therefore bought the field for seventeen shekels of silver, signed and sealed the deed, and had it witnessed. Then Jeremiah took the sealed and unsealed copy of the deed of purchase and gave it to Baruch his aide and scribe in the presence of witnesses.

And in their presence Jeremiah gave Baruch some instructions. He told Baruch to take both the documents and put them in a clay jar so that they will last a long time. Jeremiah told them that this was so done because the Lord Almighty had said that houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in that land.

Jeremiah had obeyed God completely. Yet he was perplexed about God’s guidance. God had given him a message of judgment and doom to proclaim. He had done it faithfully. But even in the face of the coming judgment, God had also asked him to buy some property and have it witnessed. Even as he transacted the purchase of land the army of Babylon was outside the city laying siege to it and the city was about to fall. So Jeremiah did not fully understand why God had asked him to do as he had done. In his perplexity he prayed to God.

In this prayer he tells God that He is Sovereign, powerful, righteous, full of renown, and a miracle working God. He tells God that He had given them possession of the land flowing with milk and honey. Yet they had not obeyed God and now disaster had fallen on them. He asks God to take note of siege ramps built up by the Babylonians to take the city. After saying all this Jeremiah posed his doubt before God. He asks God how He could ask him to buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed even though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians?

Here was an element of disbelief. Jeremiah had obeyed God fully. Yet he did not understand why God asked him to do as he did. As he viewed the siege ramps outside the city he knew fully well that the city would fall according to the word God had spoken through him. Yet at the brink of these words coming true God had made him a messenger of hope that there will come a time when houses, fields and vineyards will be bought in that land once again. Yet Jeremiah had disbelief in the message he proclaimed. Was it because he was so accustomed to preach judgment and doom that he found it difficult to believe the seemingly unlikely message of hope? We cannot be sure.

There are times in life when even in the face of hopeless circumstances God might give a message of hope. The question is whether our hearts will be prepared to believe this good news.

There are times in life when we are given opportunities to obey God without being given the full knowledge of God’s purposes behind the deeds. The question is whether we will be prepared to move forward in obedience even though the light is not clear.

Jeremiah obeyed in spite of not understanding God’s purposes fully. Then he took his disbelief to God in prayer. Do not think that he lost faith. Not at all. His disbelief was due to his inability to understand fully the message of hope that God gave in the face of imminent and utter devastation.

God simply answered his disbelief by telling him that He was the Lord, the God of all mankind and that there is nothing too hard for Him to accomplish. If God is giving you a message of hope today in the face of totally negative circumstances, believe Him with all your heart. Go out and obey what He has asked you to do even though you do not yet know His purposes fully. Take your disbelief to God Himself. Let Him tell you that there is nothing too hard for the Lord!


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