Jeremiah 17:5-6 – This is what Yahweh says: Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from Yahweh. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives.
This judgment from God described by Jeremiah is being leveled against Judah in the context of their continual unfaithfulness with idolatry.
Jeremiah 16:10-13 – “When you tell these people all these things, they will say to you, ‘Why has Yahweh declared all this terrible disaster against us? What is our iniquity? What is our sin that we have committed against Yahweh our God? ‘ “Then you will answer them, ‘Because your fathers abandoned me – this is Yahweh’s declaration – and followed other gods, served them, and bowed in worship to them. Indeed, they abandoned me and did not keep my instruction. “You did more evil than your fathers. Look, each one of you was following the stubbornness of his evil heart, not obeying me. “So I will hurl you from this land into a land that you and your fathers are not familiar with. There you will worship other gods both day and night, for I will not grant you grace.’
Jeremiah tells them “each one of you was following the stubbornness of his evil heart, not obeying [Yahweh].” At its core, this is what idolatry is. What I find interesting in this passage is that this stubbornness of the evil heart is extended to “the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from Yahweh,” (v. 5-6). Idolatry is not always just the worship of false gods, but false humans.
Ancient literature surrounding the Bible conveys that the root of idolatry began when people began “honoring” images of humans and human leaders, not just pagan gods (Wisdom of Solomon 14:12-31). All of this blended together over time to become a mash-up of deities and exalted humans which people began to trust more than the true God of the universe.
This gross idolatry of Judah is an example for us today. People may say, “We don’t worship idols today,” yet, how we look to our leaders and how much we trust them to solve the world’s problems can easily become idolatrous for us. This may be even more prevalent now than in the time of ancient Judah, as exposure to these idols assault us through the availability of 24/7 online media. In the stubbornness of our evil hearts, just like ancient Judah, we choose to trust in mankind, “turning our hearts from Yahweh.”
However, the relief in all of this is contained within the blessing contained within Jeremiah’s stern admonitions and curse against the idolatry of the day. The curse against stubbornness of idolatry is contrasted with the blessing of trusting in Yahweh.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 – The person who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence indeed is Yahweh, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.
Notice the blessings that come with truly trusting in Yahweh, and not the stubbornness of our evil hearts by looking to false gods and humans. There is no fear or worry of future calamity, the source of nourishment remains strong, even when all else may be drying up around us. Those who trust in Yahweh become a refreshment and a resource for others, continuing to produce fruit when no other fruit is to be found.
Yeshua encouraged his listeners to place their trust in Yahweh by believing in him.
John 12:44, 49 – Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. … “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.
If we can trust in Yahweh by trusting in the words of Yeshua, then we have our renewed objectives away from the idolatry that can so easily consume us. When we remove our stubborn focus off of the kingdoms of men and place it on the kingdom of God, we can rest confidently and without concern in the care of the Almighty.
Matthew 6:33-34 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
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