I was sitting in the prayer room during our Thursday 10am intercession time for Israel. I didn’t have any prayer on my heart for Israel. Honestly, it felt out of place for me to pray for Israel. Yet, I happened to be reading Jeremiah 31 and I kept reading into Jeremiah 33 and the Lord dropped a little insight into my heart that gave me confidence in prayer. I want to share it with you here.
That classic verse we all read on cards, Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you , and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know” is actually part of a great dialogue between the Lord and Jeremiah and is meant to be read in the context of chapter 32.
Jeremiah is locked up in prison for prophesying imminent judgment upon Jerusalem and King Zedekiah. Though the city is under siege and the real estate market is looking grim, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his uncle’s field. He signs and seals the deed, calls in witnesses and weighs out the seventeen shekels of silver. Jeremiah gives the deed of purchase to Baruch, in the sight of witnesses (I want to learn more about this process, 2 deeds, because I think it has some interesting paralell to Rev. 5 if the scrool is indeed, as Mike Bickle says, the “title deed to the earth”) and commands Baruch in their presence, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts the God of Israel, ‘Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time.’ “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’ “ (32:14-15). This whole scenario was a prophetic picture of God’s promise to restore the land of Israel again. He has not forgotten the sealed deed.
The very next thing that happens is quite odd. After giving the deed of purchase to Baruch, Jeremiah prays to the Lord (32:16). It is a prayer of confusion. He proclaims and confesses that he knows nothing is too difficult for God, but there is a doubt in his mind, a reluctance. Does Jeremiah remember that he was called not just to prophesy judgment but also “to build and to plant” (1:10)? In light of Israel’s great disobedience and the looming Babylonian army, Jeremiah shares his confused heart with God, “Ah Lord GOD! Nothing is too difficult for You… Behold, the siege ramps have reached the city to take it; and the city is given… You have said to me, O Lord GOD, ‘Buy for yourself the field with money and call in witnesses’- although the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans (that is, Babylonians).” (32:17-25) Jeremiah doesn’t understand what he just prophesied in vs. 15. God responds according to very truths Jeremiah claimed to know, “Behold I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (32:26-27) In my words, “Yes, I will give the city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and it is true what you are saying, Jeremiah, they have acted wickedly, but I’m not finished yet. Do you remember what I just told you in 31:35-37? No matter what Israel has done, I will never cast them off just as the witness in the sky is faithful. Behold, I will gather them back (32:36-37). And Jeremiah, “JUST AS I AM BROUGHT ALL THIS GREAT DISASTER ON THIS PEOPLE, SO I AM GOING TO BRING ON THEM ALL THE GOOD THAT I AM PROMISING THEM. Fields WILL be bought in this land… for I will restore their fortunes.” (32:42-44).
The Lord is talking to Jeremiah about Israel’s future restoration, but Jeremiah obviously does not understand yet. So, God comes a “second time, while he was still confined” in prison (33:1). “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ ” (33:2-3)
And here is the mystery of the ages, God invites Jeremiah nearer. The invitation is to “stand in the counsel of the Lord” (23:18). It is to know the secrets on His heart. He shares His secrets with His friends (Ps. 25:14). “He is intimate with the upright.” (Prov. 3:32) “Call to Me”. “Come, and I will tell you what you can’t understand right now. Let me tell you. Let me hear your confusion, come to Me in the frustration of not understanding your Bible. Just ask Me. Seek Me. Come to Me in the Word.” As I read this, it felt like the rules had changed. Jer. 23:18, “For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD?” became an invitation not an indictment against me.
“Call to Me.” This is what it means to stand in the counsel of the Lord, simply seeking and asking.
After I felt this verse strike me, I got up on the mic and prayed for the Lord to give us more insight into the whole purpose of God concerning Israel (praying from Col. 1:9 and Jer. 33:3). We are confused about the future of Israel just as Jeremiah was confused about it. But this doesn’t have to be so. We can know great and mighty things. We can be those who “stand in the counsel of the Lord”, who hear, give heed, mark, and understand His word (Jer. 23:18-19). How so? How can we be like Jeremiah and know the Lord’s heart like this? He gives the invitation right here: prayer. Not by anything we do to earn it, we simply ask. It takes a “coming to God through His word”. Jeremiah cultivated a sensitive heart to the Lord because he was faithful in the place of prayer and the Word. These 2 ingredients are all that the Lord asks. That we read, mark, and heed His word and that we ask Him to tell us more. That’s it. How simple is the invitation, yet awesomely great. May it be said that we answered it. Amen.