Jeremiah 17:5-18

Echoing Psalm 1 (or perhaps the other way ’round), the prophet writes about that which he knows cognatively is true:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in YHWH
And whose trust is YHWH.

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.” (vv. 7-8)

However, the prophet’s own experience as a lonely proclaimer of YHWH’s truth does not seem to square with his own prophecy.  He has been mistreated and cast out from society–the classic case of “blaming the messenger.”  He continues:

Heal me, O YHWH, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.

Look, they keep saying to me,
“Where is the word of YHWH?
Let it come now!”

But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd after You,
Nor have I longed for the woeful day;
You Yourself know that the utterance of my lips
Was in Your presence.

Do not be a terror to me;
You are my refuge in the day of disaster.

Let those who persecute me be put to shame, but as for me, let me not be put to shame;
Let them be dismayed, but let me not be dismayed.
Bring on them a day of disaster,
And crush them with twofold destruction! (vv. 14-18)

A prayer for salvation is also a prayer for judgment.  What else is salvation but victory over oppressors?  I once heard Brian Toews say that the “Lord’s Prayer” contains implicit imprecation, because whenever we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are asking for the last day to arrive and judgment to come.  We are confident of the verdict in our case, as we plead the blood and work of Jesus in our defense.  This should urge us to proclaim YHWH’s truth, because many will hear and believe, and many will hear and reject it, but our message will be vindicated when we are saved in the end.

Patience, long-suffering, compassion, trust in YHWH–I’m not very skilled at these tasks.

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About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, living and learning in Eastern Europe…an Old Testament professor and former liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth…eldest sibling to three, brother-in-law to Josh and Hannah…uncle to Marshall.
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