Summary: A sermon that focuses on trust and confidence in God
Dear Christian Friends:
I would like each of you to think back over the years and ponder the great advancements that have taken place. If we were to list them starting with the earliest, what would they be? I imagine that we would list things like electric lights, radio, automobiles, television, airplanes and space travel just to name a few.
As we look back into the past, we can see just how far we have come from the days of horses and buggies to the present where we are sending robots to the surface of the planets. Indeed, we are an intelligent people capable of many great accomplishments. Someone once said that man could do anything he sets his mind to and for the most part this is true. Man has certainly made great strides in the field of technology. But, our sinful nature tends to forget who gives us the ability to do such wonderful things.
It was no different in Jeremiah’s day or Moses’ day or from any day since the fall into sin. Man has always seemed to forget where his abilities came from. Instead of thanking and trusting in God for everything we have, and technology is really only a small part of it, we become self-centered and give all the credit to ourselves. Our trust and confidence becomes misplaced and our sinful nature takes pride in our meager abilities. Well, Jeremiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records for us a section of Scripture that can help us return to reality. He forces us to ask the question, Where is your trust and confidence placed? In the flesh which brings death, Or in the Lord, which brings you life.
If you remember, two weeks ago I told you about Jeremiah’s calling and how he was to pronounce God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom of Judah for their sins of idolatry. In our text for this morning Jeremiah points out to us that the beginning of this sin is found where Jesus said all sins begin; Sin begins in the heart. The people of Israel had turned their hearts away from the Lord and when that happens nothing good will come from it. Jeremiah writes, “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:5).
Idolatry is not limited to just idols of wood and stone. It comes in many forms. The children of Israel had become too confident with their accomplishments. Jeremiah was preaching that destruction was going to come from the north and the people ignored him. The Kings of Judah since the time of Solomon had made political alliances with the nations that God had told them to destroy or to avoid. Their confidence and trust was in themselves and what they had accomplished, and not in God. In this instance, their idolatry focused on a political alliance with Egypt which was to be their protector from Babylon. Judah’s attempt to enlist the help of Egypt was just one example of their trust and confidence in the flesh. God said to them in chapter 2, “Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the River? - Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria” (Jeremiah 2:18, 36)
Human military might, diplomatic alliances, or economic strength cannot replace repentance and faith in God. Israel did not trust in God to be their protector. They failed to trust in God’s promise when God said, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15).
As it was for Israel, so it is also with us. We sin against God when we think we can be self-sufficient and the masters of our fate. How many times do we shake a defiant fist in God’s face and tell him we know better than he does when we disregard his word because it does not fit with our way of thinking? God tells us to study his word daily so that we can fight off the temptations of Satan and our sinful flesh. But we think that we have learned all we need to know in conformation class, and we trust in ourselves and our abilities instead of God. When God speaks to us in his word, we should be like Samuel and say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” But we do not! Instead, lost in the sinfulness of our flesh with our misplaced trust and confidence, we defiantly shout at God saying, “Listen God, your servant is speaking!”
Whenever we turn our hearts away from God, we are in fact writing a living will, telling God that we do not want to be connected to his life support system. We would rather go it alone and rely on what out abilities can do. But in the end all we will have managed to do is to commit spiritual suicide. We will have removed ourselves from the source of life. God says that anyone who turns away from him to trust in his own sinful flesh for strength will, “be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives” (Jeremiah 17:6).