Updated: Oct 10, 2022
"But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him."
(Jeremiah 17:7 NIV)
The prophet's words echo those of the psalmist, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans" (Psalm 118:8). In the chapter in question, two speeches are distinguished: one, that of the Lord which the prophet will communicate to the people of Judah in the cities of Jerusalem, warning them of the coming Babylonian deportation; the second is the prophet's talk with God which is intertwined with the first speech. Some of Jeremiah's words express the feelings connected with his service, manifesting the humanity of a person called to holy service and challenged by his people. "They keep saying to me, where is the word of the Lord? Let it now be fulfilled!” (17:15). The difficulty of those seriously called to speak from God most often lies in believing that what is announced really proceeds from Above and will find concrete fulfillment. Those who proclaim would like a simultaneous demonstration of what has been revealed. I hope this encouragement comes to those who are called to the proclamation, so that they do not allow themselves to be influenced by outside voices or seek their approval, but remain faithful to the One who has called them, being certain that His word never falls on deaf ears and will be fulfilled at the proper time. The text warns precisely, "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord" (17:5). When one begins to trust in the creature, and no longer in the Creator, one molds a man-sized god who has the appearance of another human being.
When what happens seems to contradict what God has announced instead, we are called to remain stable in faith, for He Himself is our guarantee. Those who trust in Him "...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” (17:8). Such a tree even in times of drought (crisis and adversity) will have no worries. There is no winter to strip it of its leaves. The enemy would like to make us cold and devoid of all desire, but the prophet urges us not to keep this: "Those who turn away from me will be written on the ground" (17:13a). Such a passage calls to mind the episode of the adulterous woman when Jesus, bent over, is intent on writing in the dust. It might lead us to surmise what Jesus was writing, a list of names, and among the first ones probably appeared those of the woman's accusers. Those men thought they were serving God, but they had put all the strength in their arm, ready to stand up and stone that woman who had sinned. Their strength, the Law, and their observance toward God was contained in an arm that rose up to offend. Our arms, on the other hand, should rise only to praise God and when they do not go up spread wide to welcome and embrace.
Superficially, we may be led to endorse a way of saying and doing that is far from what may be the desire to "take root along the river of God". So many make the expression "follow your heart" their own and fail to take into account that Scripture reminds us that "The heart is deceitful above all thingsand beyond cure" (17:9), for it is the seat of all our fleshly passions and emotions. Paul also reminded Timothy to flee from youthful passions. The prophet asks who is able to know the heart, and God answers him, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (17:10). The Lord does not test our emotions, but the thoughts of our minds. The apostle Paul would write that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), although our thoughts are not always God's. Before the consideration of who we are and our needs, there is a certainty: "Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise" (Jeremiah 17:14). If we are spiritually healthy, we can offer shelter just like a tree with its great evergreen branches.
Weekly Bible Reading
October 10, Isaiah 34-36; Colossians 2
October 11, Isaiah 37-38; Colossians 3
October 12, Isaiah 39-40; Colossians 4
October 13, Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1
October 14, Isaiah 43-44; 1 Thessalonians 2
October 15, Isaiah 45-46; 1 Thessalonians 3
October 16, Isaiah 47-49; 1 Thessalonians 4