The Old Testament excerpt today stays with Jeremiah, jumping back to the chapter right before yesterday’s (17:5-10). Per the title of this post, he likens those who trust in humans as a barren bush in the desert which gets no relief versus those who trust in God who are represented as a constantly watered tree that stays ever green and bears much fruit. This fruitfulness is noted and rewarded “according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds” (v. 10).
Jeremiah is not telling us that we should be distrustful of everyone, although we all can appreciate the terrible pain caused us by someone especially close who lies to us, betrays us, or in some other way causes us unjust hurt to our core. This is the price of fallen human nature. God does not have this problem. We can trust Him because He is Truth (He cannot deceive — see Jn 14:6) and He is Love (He can do no other — see 1 Jn 4:8). This is why it is so important that those who feel distrustful, deeply hurt, abandoned know the Lord. There is a deep evangelical mission in this passage. And this not just to individuals.
In the lead up to this passage, Jeremiah conveys God’s anger at His people because of “sins throughout your territory” (v. 3). This emphasizes the need to make sure this message of blessings and curses goes out to our entire nation and all around the globe. It is a grave error to think that this sort of talk is the “Old Testament God of wrath.” It is fundamental to the Christian faith that God is immutable, that is, unchanging (see the Catholic Encyclopedia). It is a false dichotomy to split up God into eras or persons (e.g., Father vs. Son). The Almighty is paying attention. He wants repentance and conversion through the Gospel. But, in His great wisdom and mercy (yes, mercy in waking us up to our sinfulness before it is too late) He will intercede in a more dramatic way when He deems necessary.
It behooves us to get our house in order before God must do it for us. We must pray, fast, and spread the Good News.