Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
- Jeremiah 17:7-8
As teenagers growing up in Keilor, Victoria, Australia, we used to have one of those trees at a swimming hole, Arundel, near the bridge at Arundel Road. It was an immense, un-killable gum tree, with a long, thick rope swinging from one of the larger, more extended branches. Rain, hail, shine, or drought, that tree would be there. Sometimes bits would fall from it, as they do from gum trees, but the tree itself remained a testimony through the generations to these very verses.
Chapter 17 sees Jeremiah at Jerusalem's Temple gate, the place that should have been the entrance of all righteousness and holiness, delivering God’s message to the tribe of Judah about their sin. He specifically speaks of the fact that they kept sins alive to the point that they overtook their yearning for and reliance upon God.
Their creation of a spiritually godless life was more than superficial, it was systemic, both in their unholy land and unholy hearts.
Jeremiah delivered this message approximately 800 years after Israel's Exodus from Egypt, yet he finds himself dealing with the same problems. Very few in Judah at that time were taking history to heart, therefore, they were bound to repeat it.
Both righteousness and sin are generationally repetitious. Depending on our personal preference, repetitious spiritual history can be good, bad, or the more dangerous half-good and half-bad.
Similar to a shonky used car salesman conning new customers with carbon-copy tricks, Satan charms every generation using the same set of basic lies. Era after era, believers fall for these unchanging traps. Exactly the same traps. Solomon said nothing is new under the sun, not even sin.
We can make identical mistakes to those of the past if we reject the fact that the sins which took them away from God can just as easily take us away. We think we are standing on the Rock, yet, in reality, we may have one foot in the quicksand.
God told Joshua that the battle to overcome the enemy will come little by little. That was an illustration of overcoming the power of sin with the power of God. Some tribes, like Dan, didn't overcome what they were meant to, because their desire for God wasn’t great enough. Dan is not mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Concerningly, the little-by-little principle also works in reverse. Sin also comes into our lives little by little, until our reality is not God’s reality, yet we remain thinking it is. This is where Judah came unstuck with God and where we can do likewise.
A prosperous life
Jeremiah informs them of what life is like for those who put all their trust in God: who put all their hope in Him, not just a part of it.
He said those who trust and hope in the Lord will be like trees planted by the water because their source of nourishment is entirely in the Word of God. They are found continually drinking from God's fountain daily. They will grow to become strong and useful.
We can be like that when we are planted in the Word to the point that our roots go deep into it. The richness and energy of it flow through our veins simply because they must. Through this physiological phenomenon, as we grow older, we grow spiritually larger and more profitable to God and other people.
When those personal droughts come in our own lives — the challenges that try to cut us down to size — we might sway in the tempests of adversity but remain upright and immovable in our place. Our leaves continue to exist for the healing of people, and the fruit of the Spirit grows sweeter for the nourishment of those who partake. We become valuable and gratifying to God and humankind.
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thanks for the reminder that there are no new sins. Please help me remain aware of the wiles of Satan, and the need to keep my mind and heart in your word for my source of spiritual refreshing. Thank you!