Does God curse us? Thursday, 2nd week of Lent – Jeremiah 17:5-10/Luke 16:19-31
Read also https://www.pottypadre.com/the-colour-purple/ which is a reflection based on the Gospel
We live in a world where blessings are sought after. Our cultural expressions that seek a blessing may wary but the desire is the same. Whether you touch someone’s feet or join the palms of your hand or kiss a ring with reverence, the desire is simply to receive a blessing from God through your elders, teachers or a religious person.
No one actively seeks a curse or for that matter no one seeks even a negative stroke. Such a person will strike us as odd, to say the least. So, when God curses the nation of Judah one is forced to sit up and ask, why?
At the heart of it all is the lack of ‘trust’ in Yahweh. At this time on the world stage, Assyria was declining and Egypt and Babylon were each trying to dominate the fertile crescent. There were many fierce battles and many great cities fell. Judah was quite obviously anxious for its future as a nation. Jeremiah warns Judah’s leaders not to form an alliance with Egypt against the Babylonians, rather to trust in the Lord, not in political and military alliances.
Sadly, Judah had reached a point where she put all her trust in man-made security systems. Instead of walls she made deals with other countries. The nations dealings had become their god. All their energy, their loyalty and resources were directed toward the preservation of deals which were self-serving and built on fear rather than faith. As it turned out, the attempt to fight back prompted the Babylonians to tighten their grip, eventually destroying the city and temple and sending the Judeans, including Jeremiah, into exile.
The scripture text of today exhorts us to trust in the Lord and not in man made deals. Those who trust in the Lord are blessed because their roots are tapped into the stream of life. Trusting in the Lord does not take away the storms of life. Clearly, those trust in the Lord (verse7) will face ‘the heat.’ Trusting does not give us an iron shield of protection. Yet because we choose to trust, we, like the tree planted by the stream, will continue to be nourished even when the drought comes (not if the drought comes). Our leaves will continue to be green (verse 8).
To have roots is not to make deals with God. God is not a wheeler-dealer. To have roots is to keep our faith strong no matter what life brings us. We keep our roots strong by being in dialogue with God every day, not just in the foxholes. Fox hole conversions don’t last long. God needs our devotion always. When that happens, we will have life-long security.
Ironically verse 9 tells us which way the heart of Judah succumbed. They had a choice between a curse and a blessing and they still chose the curse. What we fail to understand so often in our lives is that what we desire is often not what we need.
So, did God curse Judah? It is not God who cursed Judah as much as they made a choice to call the curse upon themselves. It is for this reason that Jeremiah dwells on the ‘heart’ in verse nine. He calls the heart devious and perverse. For what else would you call one that choses to bite the hand that is raised in blessing? But then again, the prophet Jeremiah in poetic yet practical wisdom describes the leanings of men. ‘Sin’ he says, ‘makes its mark upon the human heart, with the force of an iron pen and the depth of a diamond point. (17:1) The point of the metaphors is not the hardness of the materials used, but the indelible nature of what is written.
God on the other hand, searches, tests, and knows the heart and mind. It is wise to trust what God says about us more than what we think or feel about ourselves. Jeremiah was preaching to anyone who would listen. Those who took his words to heart made sure their lives had well-watered roots. The invitation to all of us in the season of Lent is for us to water our roots.
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