John T. Willis

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tumbling Tumbleweeds--Jeremiah 17:1-18

The next paragraph in the book of Jeremiah deals with a significant HEART PROBLEM. Shall a person TRUST in God or TRUST in human beings? In REAL, DAILY life, many people trust in other human beings in themselves rather than in God. Jeremiah 17:1-18falls into three parts.

I. Human Sin is Long-lived and Deep-rooted. Jeremiah 17:1-4.
a. We have studied several metaphors of sin as a habit of life: long-lived and deep-rooted: the ox that broke its yoke (Jeremiah 2:20a), fornication or adultery
(2:20b), the degenerated wild vine (2:21), vain use of soap [the filthy mechanic]
(2:22), a camel interlacing her tracks [caught in a rut] (2:23e-f), a wild ass in heat (2:24), the Ethiopian that cannot change his skin, the leopard that cannot change his spots (13:23).
b. 17:1 portrays the metaphor of an iron pen engraved on a tablet. Such a pen is chiseled deep into the rock or tablet and can never be removed ultimately. But in this verse, the tablet or rock is THE HEART. And the WRITING on the HEART is SIN. Over many centuries, SIN has become a way of life for God's people. 17:1.
c. Rather that worshipping Yahweh, Yahweh's people worship the Baals throughout the land of Canaan. The expression "beside every green tree and on the high hills" is a common reference to worshipping Baal on high places--see 2:20; 3:6. 17:2-3.
d. Because Yahweh's people have hardened their hearts, they will lose the "heritage" of Israel=the land of Canaan, and will go into a foreign land= Babylon. 17:4.

II. There is a shart contrast in the heart between trusting in Yahweh and trusting in human beings. Jeremiah 17:5-13.
a. Throughout this section, notice the references to "the heart" in 17:5, 9, 10 [see also 17:1].
b. Yahweh says: CURSED are those who TRUST in mere mortals. Such people are like a shrub in the desert and give no relief. Such shrubs are like "tumbling tumbleweeds." They have no substance, and give no product of any kind. 17:5-6.
c. In contrast, Yahweh says: BLESSED are those who TRUST in Yahweh. They are like a tree planted by water, which shall not fear when heat comes and constantly bears good fruit. This metaphor is like Psalm 1:1-2, where the stream of water is the law of Yahweh, while in Jeremiah 17:8, the stream of water is Yahweh himself. Yahweh and his law are inseparably connected. 17:7-8.
d. The human heart is devious and perverse. Yahweh TESTS and SEARCHES the heart to give all according to their ways and doings. 17:9-10.
e. The wicked are like a partridge hatching what it did not lay, that is, people who amass wealth unjustly. 17:11.
f. Jeremiah cries out to glorify Yahweh, the hope of Israel. But the people of Yahweh have forsaken Yahweh, "the fountain of living water." 17:12-13. This same figure appears in Jeremiah 2:13.

III. Jeremiah's Fourth Complaint. Jeremiah 17:14-18.
a. First, Jeremiah beseeches Yahweh to heal and save Jeremiah. 17:14.
b. Jeremiah's enemies have denied the word of Jeremiah. But Jeremiah responds to declare that he has faithfully declared Yahweh's message to the people of God. 17:15-16.
c. Jeremiah beseeches Yahweh to protect him from his enemies. 17:17.
d. Finally, Jeremiah beseeches Yahweh to put his enemies to shame and destroy them. 17:18.
Unfortunately, we do not know Yahweh's response. We can only guess HOW Yahweh may have responded to Jeremiah.

This paragraph is very significant for trying to understand the nature of the human heart and the importance of TRUST in Yahweh.

Share YOUR thoughts and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis