April 19, 2017


Jeremiah 17:7-8


“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.”  


This passage in Jeremiah is part of the declaration that God made concerning Israel after they had forsaken Him and had run after the foreign gods, falling into great apostasy.  Even within the chastising words of God are couched the promises of how He would bless those who trust in the Lord, whose trust IS the Lord.  Jehovah, the national name for God, who is the self-existent and eternal God, was the One who had called Israel as a people unto Himself, set-apart for His purposes and ultimately, for their own blessing. 


While we cannot transfer the blessings and promises of God directed toward Israel to our own position before God as a nation, nor can we read ourselves into this script,  there remain principles that are true whether it is a nation or “a man” as God indicates in this passage.  The truth stays that whoever, regardless of what their country, their leaders, or their culture does, trusts in the LORD as their only hope, their salvation and their strength, will be blessed by God for their obedience and faith. 


It is easy to be swept along with current trends, changes in morality and lifestyles and feel that it’s no big deal.  Staying true to God is not only unpopular, it also subjects you to ridicule and charges of intolerance and even unkindness.  There are popular writers, authors and teachers who insist that a Christian will be only motivated by love (that is, the current cultural perception and definition of love). 


Israel decided that they liked the environment of their surroundings more than they loved God.  I’m sure it seemed like the nice thing to do.  Peer pressure certainly existed in their world!  It came across as unloving and rigid to keep those boundaries that God had insisted upon for them to remain set apart to Him.  They couldn’t see the line in the sand that they were crossing that led them worlds away from the God who loved them.  Not because of any particular sin, but because of the pride of their hearts, and their willingness to exchange the love of God for a love of their world that surrounded them.  They were won over by the attraction to a way of life that promised them things they thought they wanted.  In the end it led to poverty, disease and death (see Jeremiah 16).


The world apart from God has always promised us glitter and fun.  The freedom to do as we want and be who we want is alluring and attractive.  It even seems to make sense that we should do whatever our hearts desire to do.  After all, isn’t that where we find contentment and happiness and peace?  The lie has been exposed, but still we run after it as the solution. 


God gave us His Word, Himself through His Son incarnate, and promised us eternal life beyond the grave.  He has provided a way to be his children and reap all the blessings that entails.  When I still run after the world and the siren call to pursue lesser things, then I lose my contentment and peace.   And I lose my ability to be a light to those around me. 


God’s intent and purpose for the nation Israel extended beyond their own peace and happiness.  His plan was for them to be a light among the nations, and ultimately His own plan for redeeming mankind came through them, such as they were.  It’s right there in the Abrahamic covenant, the promise that God made to Abraham back in the day.  (see Genesis 12) And that’s part of why they incurred the punishment of God.  It wasn’t just about them.  It was about losing their influence among a people who desperately needed to hear the truth.  But when all look the same and live the same and believe the same, then the truth will not be heard.


 Is that true of us as believers today?  Have we allowed our own desire to be accepted and approved to dictate silence and a blending in that disallows anything of God to be seen in our lives?  I pray that God will give me (and us)  the courage and boldness to live in the world and demonstrate God’s love for the world, but not be of it.