20 March 2014

Jeremiah 17:5-10

“To give to all according to their ways.” (v. 10)


The book of Jeremiah is the longest prophetic writing in the Old Testament during which Jeremiah warns God's people of the catastrophe that was to fall upon them because of their idolatry. This passage is concerned with messages from God to the nations of Judah and its rulers, prophesying their downfall and offering prayers and laments.

Jeremiah writes very directly; there are no half measures with him. Either you trust God or you don't. And if you don't you will not survive because you have not put your trust in God, but in earthly things that have no endurance. These two pathways are previously found in Psalm 1, so Jeremiah is continuing the idea that we can choose what we do with our lives but that a life with God will be rewarded. If we turn to take the path away from God we will be punished.

We tend to think of Jeremiah as the doom-laden one who had a really hard time of it with his dreadful prophecies, but here we find him quite poetical. Jeremiah uses the natural environment to describe what he is saying. Thus the context of his message is set within creation, and he finds good and harmful natural forces to justify what we should and should not be doing as God's people. There is something quite endearing about the away he uses nature to show how God will continue to care for the people - "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord ... They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream" (vv. 7-8). Here is a very simple but beautiful image of God's faithfulness as these trees will flourish in flood or heat wave.

To Ponder

  • Care of the environment is high on most people's agendas particularly after the heavy rains of this winter. How could you develop a creation approach to your understanding of God's faithfulness today?
  • We all can fall prey at times, to being negative about the world and what is going on in it. Reflect on how you might turn thoughts and feelings that are despondent, to a more creative and encouraging stance that may energise those around you as well as yourself.

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.