This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Meditation on Jer. 17:5-8
In Whom Do You Trust?
“Thus saith the LORD; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh the flesh his arm, and whose heart departed 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. 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.”
What a sharp contrast is presented in these verses! It is a contrast between a person who trusts in man and his abilities and the person who trusts in Jehovah. It is the contrast between a brown lifeless shrub in the desert and a green fruitful tree planted by waters. It is a contrast between a person who is cursed by God and the person who is blessed by God.
Although the question is not stated, it is implied: “In whom do you trust?” This question demands a response. Jeremiah writes to the Old Testament church, Judah. In the threat posed by the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon, there were those who trusted in themselves or in the help of the nation of Egypt. These were terrible times. Do you look to the arm of flesh, or do you look and trust in God’s mighty arm? We may ask in these current troublesome days the same questions. Do you trust in the economy, politicians, scientists, hospitals, health care, or government policies and handouts? Or do you rest and have confidence in Jehovah who is sovereign and does all things well? The question arises out of the text.
How foolish and weak is the arm of flesh. The economy changes. Governors and presidents can threaten or make promises. Scientists can maybe find a vaccine that works but also can create viruses that kill. Money can be given out by the government, but it is not free. It will have to come from somewhere, namely new taxes. The arm of flesh is sinful and mortal. The person who trusts in man is the one “whose heart departed from the LORD.” Do you see, there is no possibility of trusting in both man and God? It is either/or. It is a matter of taking our eyes off from the LORD and putting them instead on our own abilities. One is able to have a correct knowledge of God in one’s head, but not in his heart.
In whom do you trust? God’s word says, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” How dreadful! The person that lives and dies in unbelief is cursed, under God’s wrath and hatred. God’s curse is a powerful and effective word that brings death. The figure is given of a brown scrub in the desert. This shrub never gives any fruit, and even if rain comes, it has no roots to drink it up. What a picture of the person who does not know and love God!
The contrast is the child of God who trusts, has saving faith, depends upon the LORD. That person has hope, which means confidence. Why do we have this confidence even in difficult times? The reason is that the LORD is the God of our salvation. He loves us. He will work all things for good to them that love him, who are the called according to his purpose. He has provided for our salvation in his Son, Jesus Christ! Our eyes, our mind, and our heart are stayed upon him. Jeremiah’s confession is found in vs. 17, “thou art my hope in the day of evil.” May we say with the Psalmist, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Ps. 56:3,4).
The person that trusts in Jehovah is compared to a green and fruitful tree. He is planted by the waters. He is planted there by God himself. He is given deep roots, roots that keep on spreading by the river. Christ Jesus is that water of life. Christ’s life flows to us by the Holy Spirit. When times of trouble come, the person who trusts in God does not shrivel up or become unfruitful. Rather, his roots sink further and deeper into Jesus Christ and his Word. He becomes stronger. He is not anxious in these troublesome times but has the fruit of joy and peace. God’s Word says that God blesses those who trust in him!
So once more the question comes, “In whom do you trust?” The Psalmist Asaph once doubted and was anxious and despairing. But God led and taught him, and he was able to say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee… it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works” (Ps. 73:25,28).
May the trials and difficulties we currently face cause us to draw closer to our God in Christ Jesus in faith and confidence.
Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)
Ordained: January 1981
Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic
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