Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cursed or Blessed?

Jeremiah 17:1-18

“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.” (Jeremiah 17:1-2)

Judah had sinned, worshipping the groves of trees and various idols. By continuing to do it for generations it was like they had carved it into stone that that was how the Jews lived. 

“O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.  And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.” (Jeremiah 17:3-4)

Because they have offended God to the point he will not forgive that generation, he is going to take everything he has given them away.  Other people will worship in the places they have worshipped, and their riches will be carried away.  Even the people will be carted off to other lands as captives and slaves. 

“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.  For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 17:5-6)

The person who depends on political and military power to keep him safe and solve his problems is cursed by God.  Like a bit of sage or other plant in the middle of the dessert, even when others are being blessed, they will miss out, struggling to survive even when others flourish because the ground is so dry and parched that the water hardly penetrates and it has so much alkalai that the plants hardly grow. 

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

The person who puts his trust in God instead of earthly powers will flourish like a tree planted by a river or lake.  Even a severe prolonged drought hardly affects them because their roots have a ready source of nourishment.   During a drought, tree leaves shrivel to reduce evaporation, even allowing some branches to die.  Those which are planted by the waters don’t have to deal with that, and they consistently produce fruit as a result. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.” (Jeremiah 17:9-11)

In modern society we are often encouraged to follow our heart, but God warns it is not to be trusted.  One never knows when it will betray him.   God himself is constantly looking to see what is controlling the heart and he rewards each person in accordance with what he does.  Like a bird who steals other birds eggs and tries to hatch them, instead of laying and caring for their own,  those who try to take shortcuts and cheat will find it doesn’t pay and make themselves look stupid.    

“A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.  O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” (Jeremiah 17:12-13)

The Temple had been a wonderful testimony of God and his power in Israel.  Everyone who turned their backs on God would be ashamed of the results, and those who refused to hear Jeremiah’s message were in fact rejecting the living God.  they would die and their bodies and lives would be absorbed into the earth. 

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.  Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.  As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.  Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.  Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.” (Jeremiah 17:14-18)

Jeremiah is placing his trust in the Lord.  Other people make light of God’s word, not believing it will happen.   Jeremiah has stayed true to his calling, not running off after some other idea of what God wants, or hoping to see people destroyed like Jonah at Nineveh.  His prophecies are not something he made up. But what God commanded.  When the prophecies come to pass, he asks that he would not be confused or disheartened by what happens.  He prays that he would remain faithful even as the wicked lose hope and are destroyed.  

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