5This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. Jeremiah 17:5-6
I appreciate the “people are awesome” line. People are awesome. It is incredible what people can do. I like the stories of hard, smart, persevering work. However, the Scripture shows us we are always in danger of turning the blessings of strength into our own personal Babel. And that is grievous!
When Jeremiah expresses God’s view of the human situation we must remember, God is grieved by our situation. God is so grieved that He uses the word “cursed” or “under a curse” to describe the situation of living without Him. He uses the most dramatic images to capture the deathly impact of the evil seduction that limits our faith to just humanity and that turns hearts away from the Lord.
People apart from a relationship with God are like stunted shrubs in the desert. God is grieved for these people who had such potential in Him for now they are living barren, lonely, hopeless lives. Ah you may say, “I know many people who seem to be doing well without God.” Jeremiah goes on to say that we do not yet see the whole story:
11Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools.
12But we worship at your throne— eternal, high, and glorious!
13O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water. Jeremiah 17:11-13
The heralds of a DYI-life seduce people with stories of stuff, praise, and power. But life without the one true God — well we don’t like to think about like this — is empty. Only He is the “fountain of living water,” the hope of Israel and the blessing for all the nations.
So it is in the Gospel of Jesus that we enter into the restoration work of the creation and the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus says, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) John 7:37-39
There is hope for those who are living under the curse! Though we all have a deceitful heart that turns from God, Jesus can transform the heart. Even Jeremiah knew God’s power to change the heart, so he prayed in response to this word from God, “O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!” Jeremiah 17:14
Let’s come to Jesus Christ the Lord, who entered the wasteland of death, bore our curse, and defeated sin. Let’s trust Him for life. Let’s ask Him to heal our hearts. May He quench your thirst!