April 12, 2014.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17 is probably one of the chapters that we like to focus on when we are dealing with prophecy, because honestly, there is a lot that can be more easily gleamed from this chapter as in comparison to other chapters. I was reading through it and I kept recognizing common quoted verses. But just because it is more studied doesn’t make it any less true. Let’s look at a few major themes the prophet lays out for us.
I wanted to start with the opening line because it is a little more appealing than the prophecy of destruction that runs throughout the book. Blessed is the man who trusts in The Lord. What does that mean? I know we have a definition of trust and we tell people to trust in The Lord all the time, but what do we mean? What is trust, and how do we trust in a God who we do not see?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
You may have read this many times in your life, but have you ever really tried to apply it? It’s hard. Very hard. By our own nature we are inclined to worry about things. Where is my next job, what school am I going to go to, what am I going to have for lunch? But Jesus said not to worry, God will take care of you. Now, I don’t think he was saying not to be concerned or even not to plan things. But always trust that it will work out for good (Romans 8:28). Our Heavenly Father takes care of us willingly, compassionately. He loves us beyond comprehension. Nature doesn’t worry. Are we not more important than nature?
Jeremiah doesn’t stop there, however. If there is a positive side, there usually is a negative side. Before he says the blessing, he gives the curse:
“Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord. “For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.”
How often do we put our trust in mere humans? Never? I would challenge that notion. What about the President? Government leaders? Our military? Our friends? Our preachers? Ourselves. I’m not saying that each of these don’t have their own role in our lives, but we are all simply human. We are to trust in The Lord, and he will bring about what is to be done. Does that mean everything will go splendidly? No. The gift of free will allows for wrong choices. But in the end, God’s ultimate purpose will be accomplished. Guaranteed.
““The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
This is a passage that I think we need to spend more time on in our churches today. Oft is the case in our society that we follow our hearts to lead us to what we are supposed to do. I don’t think this is always a wise choice. Yes, I believe God can lead us to do things, but here we see that God says our hard is more deceitful than all things. I am convinced that sometimes when we are “lead” to do something, it is simply doing what we want to do and accrediting it to God. I believe this is dangerous. This has happened many times in the past. Standing on trial, Paul is recoreded in Acts to have said:
“Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”
When Paul was heavily persecuting Christians, he thought he was doing the will of God. He was zealous and passionate. He was on his way to be one of the top Rabbi’s of his time. But he was wrong. And we can be wrong as well. That may be a scary thought, but one that I think helps us when we honestly ask ourselves the question. Is what I do for The Lord holy and acceptable in his sight? Do I have a biblical basis for what I do, or do I operate based on feeling? Let us remember that the heart is deceptive above all else.
Suggested Daily Reading: Jeremiah 17, Matt 6, Acts 22-23.
Lord, open our eyes.