Jeremiah: Prophet Of Judgment Followed By Blessing

Part XXXVI: Relying On God To Handle Very Evil People

(Jeremiah 17:9-18)


I.                 Introduction

A.    The only thing about man that God claims is "great" is his sin according to Genesis 6:5, and some sinners are so wicked that their sinful acts are incredibly difficult for the upright to understand and then handle.

B.     Jeremiah 17:9-18 in its context provides the welcome solution to this problem, and we view it for our insight:

II.              Relying On God To Handle Very Evil People, Jeremiah 17:9-18.

A.    In the context, Jeremiah 17:5-8 had just contrasted the way of the wicked with the way of the righteous, revealing how the wicked would lack God's blessing where the righteous would enjoy abundant blessing.

B.     However, that situation leads to the question, "If the ways of blessing and cursing are so clear (vv. 5-8), why would anyone choose the path of sin?" (Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1151)  Jeremiah knew that the heart of man was the cause of a person's choosing the path of sin, and that man's heart was "deceitful above all things, and desperately sick," so "who" could "understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)  In other words, who was able to fathom the depths of man's wickedness so as to render adequate justice on him for his sin?

C.     In wonderful relief, God answered the question, asserting that "I Myself (emph. pron.) Jahweh explore, search through (haqar, B. D. B., A Heb. and Eng. Lex. of the O. T., p. 350) the heart, I scrutinize (bahan, Ibid., p. 103) the (lit.) kidneys (kilyah, fig. for "seat of emotion and affection," Ibid., p. 480), Kittel, Bib. Heb., p. 736.  In other words, God claimed that He Himself as Israel's covenant-keeping "Yahweh" in perfect righteousness searches through each human heart and scrutinizes even its seat of emotion and affection to render accurate justice that is due to every person according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds, Jer. 17:10a, b.

D.    To illustrate how effective is His testing and rulings, God gave the example of a man who acquires riches unjustly, Jeremiah 17:11: like a partridge that "hatched the eggs of another bird, the offspring would soon desert the mother and fly away.  So wealth that had been acquired unjustly would be taken away, and the one who had been hoarding it would be exposed as a fool," Ibid., Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1151-1152.

E.     Accordingly, Jeremiah responded to the problem of the desperately wicked human heart by resting on the infinite sovereignty and righteousness of the Lord, Jeremiah 17:12-13:

1.      God's glorious throne of perfect righteousness, omniscience and infinite sovereignty over every human heart and its emotional structure has been set on high from the beginning of creation so that absolutely no human being can escape a full accounting of justice to Almighty God, Jeremiah 17:12.

2.      With this truth in mind, Jeremiah praised the Lord, saying, "O Jahweh, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth [the dust of the earth, NIV], for they have forsaken the Jahweh, the Fountain of living water," Jeremiah 17:13 ESV.

F.      However, armed with this hope, Jeremiah then applied it to the people who persecuted him, Jer. 17:14-18:

1.      Jeremiah called on the Lord to heal him that he might be truly healed, to save him that he might be truly saved, for the Lord was his praise, that is, God was his cause for giving praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

2.      This call for God's help arose out of Jeremiah's affliction from persecutors who said to him, "Where is the word of the Lord?  Let it come!" in mocking Jeremiah's claims of God's coming judgment, Jer. 17:15.

3.      Jeremiah explained that he had not run away from being God's shepherd of His people, nor had he desired the day of despair that he was tempted to feel because of his persecutors, for the Lord had known what Jeremiah had prophesied, that it was God's words that the Lord was due to uphold, Jer. 17:16 ESV, NIV.

4.      The prophet Jeremiah asked that the Lord not be a terror to him by not helping him regarding persecutors, for the Lord was his refuge in the day of disaster at the hands of such evil foes, Jeremiah 17:17.

5.      Jeremiah asked that his persecutors be shamed as people who are guilty of sin and deserving God's judgment instead of himself being shamed by his persecutors, that his foes be dismayed without Jeremiah being dismayed by their mistreatment, that God might bring on them disaster and destruction, Jer. 17:18.


Lesson: God assured Jeremiah that He was totally sovereign over all men and that He would thus deal out justice so that no one would escape his full accountability to the Lord.  Jeremiah then applied this promise to his suffering persecution as a messenger of God in hope that the Lord would fully and justly recompense his persecutors.


Application: If we have been wronged, we can trust that God knows all about it and that He will fully deal with it.