TRUST BETRAYED OR REPAID?
Lord, thank You for exchanging my formerly deceitful heart with a clean one.
Read JEREMIAH 17:1–18
17 “Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool,
inscribed with a flint point,
on the tablets of their hearts
and on the horns of their altars.
2 Even their children remember
their altars and Asherah poles
beside the spreading trees
and on the high hills.
3 My mountain in the land
and your wealth and all your treasures
I will give away as plunder,
together with your high places,
because of sin throughout your country.
4 Through your own fault you will lose
the inheritance I gave you.
I will enslave you to your enemies
in a land you do not know,
for you have kindled my anger,
and it will burn forever.”
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
9 The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay
are those who gain riches by unjust means.
When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,
and in the end they will prove to be fools.
12 A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,
is the place of our sanctuary.
13 Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the spring of living water.
14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
15 They keep saying to me,
“Where is the word of the Lord?
Let it now be fulfilled!”
16 I have not run away from being your shepherd;
you know I have not desired the day of despair.
What passes my lips is open before you.
17 Do not be a terror to me;
you are my refuge in the day of disaster.
18 Let my persecutors be put to shame,
but keep me from shame;
let them be terrified,
but keep me from terror.
Bring on them the day of disaster;
destroy them with double destruction.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Why does Jeremiah 17:10 sound so much like Revelation 2:23? Because the same God is doing the speaking.
Yesterday we saw Jeremiah using drama to make his point; here he uses poetry. The NIV, like many other versions, indicates this by the way the words are printed. The poem begins with a rehashing of Judah’s sin and its consequences, moves on to reflection about trust and finishes with an expression of how he feels about his own ministry and his own relationship with God. Through the entire section runs a thread of reflection on just who God is and how he reacts both to Judah and to Jeremiah! There is no doubt in Jeremiah’s mind that God is concerned with and for both the big national picture and the needs of individuals like himself.
In both cases, trust in the wrong things is doomed and trust in God is rewarded. Trusting in “wealth” and “treasures” will lead to loss of inheritance (3); trusting in human strength will result in famine (5,6). Trusting in God will lead to blessing even in “a year of drought” (7,8); forsaking God will lead to “shame” (13). Perish the thought that God can be deceived. He knows exactly what we are doing and why! As he writes about this, Jeremiah has a “wow” moment when he remembers that, just as God knows what Judah is doing and why, he also understands where Jeremiah is coming from and how he feels. I find it really encouraging that, even when we are thinking about the difficulties of life and the corruption around us, we know that God is still God, he understands and he cares. Verse 18 ends on a sour note, but if you read on to verse 27 you will see that Jeremiah’s ongoing faith in God’s goodness to him is clear.
Try and recall all the examples of your former life outside of Christ that testified to the truth of verse 9.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24).