Don't Marry
Tim Temple

Introduction

One of the foundational, undergirding institutions of the human race is the institution of marriage. In Genesis, chapter 2, God said, “It is not good that the man shall be alone.” The passage goes on to tell how he created a suitable mate for Adam, that first male. The Scripture is full of instructions and references to various aspects of marriage scattered throughout the pages of Scripture.

Even though there are exceptions along the way, God does call some people to be single or in some cases, whether He calls them to that life or not, it becomes what He has for them and they become aware of that. Certainly there is nothing wrong with being single, but the general provision, the underlying principle, of humanity is marriage. And yet, in the passage to which we come to today in our study of the book of Jeremiah, God specifically said to this young prophet, probably in his early to mid twenties at this point, “Don't get married, Jeremiah.” God said, “I don't want you to have a wife or children.”

In a moment we will see why God gave this surprising command which seems to be at odds with what He designed for the human race. Before we do, let's remind you of the context in which God said that to Jeremiah.

In these studies of the book of Jeremiah over the course of the last several weeks, we have been watching the death of a nation. The kingdom of Judah has been slowly falling apart under the infection of evil and sin that had been practiced in that land for many, many years by many generations. From the kings down to the common people, evil has spread throughout the nation. It has been heading toward the inevitable climax of the judgment of God—the nation's being invaded and overthrown by a foreign kingdom.

That overthrow and that captivity did not come suddenly. It is important for us to remember that Jeremiah's ministry lasted for forty years. As we are working our way through the book of Jeremiah, we are in the early years of his ministry, but God continued to call out to His people through the voice of Jeremiah for more than forty years. God's patience waited all those years for any even last moment repentance on the part of His people, but the nation persisted in its evil and eventually the judgment that Jeremiah had been predicting had to come on that nation.

Meanwhile, as we have been looking at these early years of Jeremiah's ministry, we have been watching God toughening his prophet, preparing him for the increasing deterioration of that nation. Things are getting worse and worse despite the warnings and the preachings of this faithful man of God.

In many ways I believe that we are facing the parallel to this in our nation in our day. As you know, we face continually worsening times and that is one of the reasons that we are studying this book of Jeremiah. The primary message of this book is how to face an increasingly cruel and tough world, a world that continues to forsake God and the principles of His Word. From Jeremiah's day right down to this day in which we live, we have a need for learning how to face stress and difficult circumstances because of the continuing increase of evil in the lives of people around us. We need to learn how to shield ourselves or how to allow God to shield us from that evil that continues to grow all around us.

The passage that we come to today is in many ways the heart of this message of Jeremiah. Chapters 16 and 17 contain the fifth message that Jeremiah delivered. As you know, his messages were spaced several years apart in some cases. This message, along with the message in the two chapters which come after this, was delivered toward the close of the reign of Jehoiakim, who was the last king before Judah went into captivity. These two chapters form another of Jeremiah's messages, the fifth of his messages, about God's determination to judge that wicked nation of Judah. The theme of the message is found in chapter 16, verses 1-9. The theme is expressed in the form of three amazing commands that God gives to Jeremiah.

God Commands Jeremiah not to Marry

First, in verses 1-2, God tells Jeremiah not to get married. Look at verse 1:

Jeremiah 16:

1 The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,
2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.

God had given Jeremiah several strange commands before this. Last week we saw that God told Jeremiah not to pray for this people any longer. It wasn't easy for Jeremiah to be a prophet of God. He didn't understand in a lot of cases what God was doing, and I am sure as this command came to Jeremiah, he must have been frustrated and disappointed and wondered what the point was. As he carried on his ministry as a prophet, things didn't happen the way he thought they would. He didn't have the experience that some of the prophets had on seeing the Word of God hit the people and hit them with such power that they repented and turned to the Lord. What he saw was the word seemingly falling on deaf ears. There was no response at all as far as he could see and he was hurt by that and he wondered about it. Already a lonely suffering prophet, God gives him this additional restriction. He is not to get married. He is not going to get to know the joy of a home or the companionship of a wife and love of children. The reason for that is not that God was trying to be hard on Jeremiah. In fact, if you jump ahead a verse or two, you find that it was God's love that prompted Him to give Jeremiah this command. He was really sparing Jeremiah further sorrow. Look at verse 3:

Jeremiah 16:

3 For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;
4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

God's giving of this command to Jeremiah, this forbidding of Jeremiah to marry was really God's sparing him the additional grief of watching his wife and children die because God says that everyone in this land is going to go through this terrible persecution and suffering of seeing their land overthrown. Many of them are going to be just left for the birds to eat. It is going to be a terrible, horrible time.

Let me just say in passing that this is another illustration of the fact that whatever God may withhold from us is only because of His love for us. It is not because He wants us to do without this or that, but it is because in His own way, God sees the future. God knows the plan that He has for my life and for your life and sometimes that plan includes holding us back from something that He knows would only be a hindrance to us or would bring sadness to us.

Of course, the bigger purpose of this command is to emphasize to Jeremiah and to the people around him and to emphasize to us the inevitability of the judgment that was coming on Jeremiah's nation. God is saying to Jeremiah, “This is a time when those normal aspects of life need to be laid aside. This nation is hurtling headlong into judgment so don't encumber yourself with burdens that are not absolutely necessary. You need to be free, Jeremiah, of the responsibilities that a good husband would have to have to take care of his family in the right way. You need to be free to devote your time to warning the people about this coming judgment.”

No Mourning for Jeremiah

That was not the only restriction for Jeremiah. In verse 5, we find that there was to be no mourning. In verse 5, we read:

Jeremiah 16:

5 For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.

No Merriment for Jeremiah

Then in verses 8-9, we find still another restriction. There was to be no merriment in verse 8. Notice:

Jeremiah 16:

8 Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.
9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

You see, what God is saying is, “Jeremiah, I want you to demonstrate how serious this situation is by not being involved in some of the aspects of life that in other circumstances would be perfectly natural—marriage, mourning for the dead, going to dinner parties, etc. I don't want you to be a part of that so that you can emphasize to the people that things are not always going to be the same as they are now.”

Maybe a more up to date way of saying it, and the sense of what God was saying to Jeremiah was, “Jeremiah, don't waste time trying to rearrange the deck furniture on the Titanic because it is hopeless.” One of the snares of a nation rushing towards God's judgment is the insistence that everything is perfectly normal, that nothing is wrong. Jesus made this very point in Matthew, chapter 24. We won't take the time to turn there, but in Matthew, chapter 24, verses 37-39, in which He outlines the future of all the nations of the world when he was talking about the end of the age, he said:

Matthew 24:

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Judah Warned Again

So the theme of this fifth message of Jeremiah is just because things seem to be normal, it doesn't mean that God is not going to be true to His principles and His promises and warning.

The people of Jeremiah's day were a lot like I am afraid a lot of people in our day are like the man who is barreling down the freeway at high speed with an eighth of a tank of gasoline saying, “The car is running just fine. Everything is okay,” but refusing to look at the fuel gauge, and thinking everything is okay. That was the sense of the day in which Jeremiah lived and I think we need to be on our guard for the possibility that that is the case in this day in which we live. Don't be fooled by the fact that everything seems to be okay.

We would think that something as dramatic as this would get people's attention, wouldn't we? After all, Jeremiah was a well known prophet and people knew he was a prophet of God, and to see him refusing to do these things should have gotten people's attention. What was the result? Down in verses 10-20, we find out. This is how they received the message. Look at verse 10:

Jeremiah 16:

10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?

I recently read that sometimes cancer in its terminal stages suddenly seems to disappear, and doctors who are familiar with that phenomenon often caution families about it because it actually confirms that the end is near. Here was a nation which was unaware of its evil. When God tried to demonstrate to them through the preaching of Jeremiah or through the object lessons that He gave, the evil for which they were about to answer, they said, “What are you talking about? What kind of evil have we done?” It reached such a degree of sickness that they seemed completely unaware of any wrong-doing at all. When that happens, it is a sign that the end of the nation is near.

Let me summarize verses 11-13 for you because God has Jeremiah tell these people once again that their sin was in the abandonment of Him and His principles just as their fathers before them had done. We have read that message before and here it is again. There is no reason to question why God's judgment is coming. He repeats it to them again and again. He spells it out for them carefully through the words of Jeremiah.

A Promise of Hope

In verses 14-20, we have one of those gleams in the darkness which appear here and there in these prophetic books where God gives a promise of hope. In the midst of all of His warnings of judgment, He also gives a promise of hope. Here we have the reaction by the prophet. We have looked at the reaction by the people but look at the reaction by the prophet. In verses 14-15, we have some background promises that led to his reaction. Look at verse 14:

Jeremiah 16:

14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

God clearly says, “Someday I am going to restore these people. Someday I am going to give their land back to them and when I do, it is going to be so dramatic that people won't talk about the exodus from Egypt any more. Then when they talk about My great power, they will talk about when I brought the people of Israel back into their land from their spreading, from their captivity all over the world.

In the meantime, verses 16-18 go on to say that the nation is going to be invaded by other nations, and He uses the terminology of hunters and fishermen coming into the land, robbing it of all of its wealth and treasures. There is that promise of future restoration, but there is still this warning of judgment that is about to come if they don't repent.

Jeremiah's Perception of God's Plan

In verses 19-20, we have Jeremiah's bold perception of God's plan for Israel. What would you say if God told you to give a message like this to Israel, “There is no hope unless you repent,” to demonstrate in the way he told Jeremiah to do? Well, here is what Jeremiah said. Look at verse 19:

Jeremiah 16:

19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?

You see, what Jeremiah is doing here in these verses is that he is looking down through history with the eye of faith and he is seeing far down to the end of all history. He is saying, “Lord, what You are doing now, even though it is hard for me to bear, nevertheless, I have a place of strength and fortress. You are my fortress. You are my fortress, Lord. I see that the nations are going to see the result of their foolishness and they are going to come and confess to you the emptiness of all the things that they have followed and the things that they have done.” Jeremiah, by faith, understood the long term plan of God and it gave him great comfort. God's response to that is interesting. Look at verse 21:

Jeremiah 16:

21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.

God says, “It is only going to be by the complete and utter collapse of all that these people have their trust in that they will ever have their eyes opened. So that is what I am saying to them. I am warning them that this is about to come upon them.”

You know, this is the way God sometimes has to move with individuals and with nations in order to bring them to themselves and to bring them to Himself. Sometimes He has to bring into individual lives trouble, bankruptcy of various sorts—financial bankruptcy or emotional backruptcy or relational bankruptcy. He has to bring them to the bottom, to the end of themselves, before they will see Him for Who He is and themselves for who they are and see their need of Him. That is what God did to His beloved nation, Israel, His chosen people, and the plan is not completed yet. Even in this day in which we live, twenty-six hundred years later, God's plan is still underway. Sometimes He does that in the lives of individuals and He does it in the lives of other nations as well. Israel is not the only nation in which He has worked this way. When that happens, they then see God as He really is. They see His power and His might and they even see His love for them. So God is at work.

Chapter breaks have to come somewhere, but this chapter break is really not in a great place. Let me remind you that the chapter divisions are not inspired by God. The text is inspired, but many years later editors came along and put chapters and verse numbers in there. We should be thankful for that because it enables us to give a chapter and verse for what we want to say, but sometimes I wonder why in the world they put those chapter breaks where they did and here is a place where it just doesn't seem to make much sense. In the first verse of chapter 17, God just goes right on with what He was saying in chapter 16.

Judah's Haughtiness

In chapter 17, verses 1-18, we find the truth behind the message that God wants to give to Jeremiah and to Judah and to us. In these verses God is going to explain to Jeremiah the basic reason He has no choice but to bring judgment on Judah. Really, it is in two parts. First, in verses 1-4, He says it is because of their haughtiness. Look at verse 1:

Jeremiah 17:

1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart…

Here God is speaking poetically about the fact that sin was so deeply entrenched in this nation that it was almost like a tattoo. It was engraved and not only that, it was engraved in their hearts. It was so deeply entrenched that nothing short of judgment is going to break it loose from them. Does that sound familiar? I'm afraid that we are facing something similar in our day. Through various subtle means over many years, evil has become deeply entrenched in our nation, and we are exposed to it all the time. It can easily become more entrenched than we realize in our lives.

Lying, greed, sensuality, power mongering and total selfishness pervade our government. We joke about it, but we are really only half kidding when we talk about how a politician can go to Washington and drink the water and get poisoned by it and become like all those who went before him. We talk seriously, and I think it is extremely important and my personal opinion is that because of all that entrenched evil in our government system, it is extremely important for us to have term limitations because power brings corruption with it. That is all through our government; it is through our business institutions, our school systems. Sometimes that evil can even get into our homes and our churches. Evil is engraved in the hearts of men and in so many ways they are so deeply entrenched that as God said about Jeremiah's day, I am afraid it is written on their hearts as though it were tattooed there, put there with a pen of iron.

Not only that, but in Judah's case, they were so haughty that they were deliberately passing it on to their children. Look at verse 2:

Jeremiah 17:

2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

The altars and the green trees were all a part of the false worship system. People turned away from the worship of Jehovah as it is recorded in the Old Testament and had begun worshiping all these false deities. The green trees and the altars that he refers to here were a part of that. They were teaching their children this. Not only had they turned away, God's people turned away from the worship so carefully outlined in the Old Testament to some other kind of worship, but they were teaching their children this also. The next generation was infected with this and therefore, it could only get worse. It had become a generational thing in Judah. There was nothing that God could do but to bring judgment on these people in order, eventually, to bring them back to Himself. He closes this section by saying, in verse 3:

Jeremiah 17:

3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.
4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

Condition of Judah's Heart

God was openly opposed, clearly opposed, to their haughtiness. But the second aspect of the reason God is going to bring judgment on Judah is not only their haughtiness, the problem really was bigger than that. It is because of the condition of their heart.

The lessons that God is going to teach Jeremiah in these next few verses, these things that we are about to look at now for the next few minutes are some of the most important lessons that anyone can ever know. I hope you will pay careful attention because this is one of the basic secrets of life, one of the basic messages of the Word of God.

The rest of chapter 17 is the whole underlying principle of Jeremiah's prophecy, in a sense the underlying principle of the entire Word of God. In these verses God begins to open this young prophet's eyes to what lies behind the movement of God in history—the way God deals with people and with nations. If you want to understand what is going on in our world today and what is happening in this turbulent time that we live in, if you want to understand the movement of God in the past, you have to understand what God is going to say to Jeremiah in these next few verses.

Think carefully about what God says in these verses. The first lesson is that there are only two ways for human beings to live, and a choice has to be made between these two ways. It can't be both. It has to be one or the other. The first is stated in verses 5-6:

Jeremiah 17:

5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

Here is the person who says that man is the ultimate solution to his own problems. He trusts in man and makes flesh his strength. God very clearly says cursed is that man. That is, everything that a person like that does is ultimately going to be brought to nothing. There will be no lasting profit, no worth, no value in anything that he does for the man who trusts in man. The symbol that God uses for that man in verse 6 is very interesting. Notice:

Jeremiah 17:

6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Most of us don't like to admit it, but we live in the desert pretty much out here in West Texas. If we don't live in it, then all we have to do is drive ten or fifteen miles west and we will be there for sure. We know from being in the desert how plants in the desert look. There are plants there, but they are dry and shriveled and stunted. They are not the same as those same kinds of plants that are in other parts of the country where there is more water and not so much heat. Those same plants have great possibilities if they have enough water and less direct sunshine and those kinds of things. But in the desert they are shrunken and shriveled, and so God looks at man and He sees the life of the man who trusts only in himself and only in other human beings, and He says, “Yes, that man has a life but it is dried and shriveled and shrunken, and it is not at all that it could be.”

In contrast to that, you have the other way of life in verses 7-8:

Jeremiah 17:

7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
8 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.

We were driving thirty or forty miles in the country southeast of here, and we were struck with how brown and dry the countryside looked because of this drought that we have been in. It actually didn't look quite as bad as we had thought it would, but we all know if you have driven anywhere out in the country, how brown and dry everything is. As we drove along, we noticed here and there, usually along the fence line in front of people's houses when the houses were close to the road, some plants that were green and flourishing and the grass around them was green and it looked so different from the things that were just a few feet away from them that were brown and burned.

Of course, the reason for that was that one way or another, those particular trees and bushes were being watered regularly. Either they were close to an underground stream or more likely, the homeowner was watering at least those few bushes and trees. God says, “That is the man who has learned to trust in Me. The things around him may be getting brown and dry and stunted, but the man who trusts in Me is the man who can take it when things get tough and hard and dry and burned up. When everyone else is giving up, the man who trusts in Me remains inwardly strong, strengthened by an unseen source of water.”

That is the secret of the life of the man who trusts in God. No matter what the circumstances around him may be, the promise of the Word of God is that he will be strong and flourishing like a tree that is planted near the river. Of course, this is a figure of speech that is used in a number of places in the Bible. The first Psalm speaks of that same thing in great detail.

The Basic Problem

The underlying principle of this whole subject is in the next two lines. Here in verse 9, God begins to unfold to Jeremiah what the basic problem is. Look at verse 9:

Jeremiah 17:

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

There it is. That is all He says, but in those two lines you have the explanation for all of the misery and heartache and injustice and evil in our world around us. It is all there. It all stems from this one truth: The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.

“Two things are wrong with it,” He says. “First, it is more deceitful than any other force in human life. The heart,” God says, “is crafty. It is clever. It can appear one way when it really is very much another way.”

Every once in a while we see this in ourselves, don't we? Come on, be honest. We can see this in ourselves if we are honest with ourselves. We realize, for example, that we have an almost frightening ability to speak kindly to someone whom we utterly despise. We have the ability to say something to someone or to do something to someone who is completely at odds with what our heart really feels. We have the ability to make a decision that is completely at odds with what we profess to believe, on the other hand, because it is what deep, down inside we want to do, regardless of what God says.

I Corinthians, chapter 13, the great love chapter, points this out in an interesting way. It is not always the way we look at I Corinthians, chapter 13, but Paul says there that it is possible to bestow all of your goods to feed the poor and yet do it without love. We would bestow our goods to feed the poor and it would give the impression that we are doing it because we love the poor so much, but Paul says that it is entirely possible to do that without love. So the thing that we are doing looks completely different than the condition of our heart. You can give your body to be burned, in fact, and yet do it without love. The heart can do all of these things because it is deceitful. Because of that deceitfulness, Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 12, states it very clearly:

Proverbs 14:

12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Contrary to what the movies tell us and what some of the songs tell you, it is not wise to trust your heart and do what your heart tells you—to go with your heart, those kinds of terms being given as advice. The heart is deceitful.

The second problem with the heart, in verse 9, is that it is also desperately wicked. Not only can we not trust it, but it is not to be trusted because it is inherently evil. This means that the heart does not function as God originally designed it to function. Because of sin, the heart of every human being is predisposed to do evil. Our tendency is to sin. At our heart, we have that evil tendency.

I can prove that to you. If you have ever been around a three or four year old child very much, you know that you don't have to teach that child to lie or to make noise when he has been told to be quiet or to disobey, or a hundred other things. You don't have to teach a child that. What you have to teach them is not to lie and not to make noise when he is supposed to be quiet. This verse tells us exactly why that is so. Every human being has a heart defect. It is deceitful and desperately wicked.

I know that there are many people who have trouble with this point, maybe even some of you. This is a verse, along with several others, that divides human thinking right down the middle. You can either believe this verse and live the rest of your life with the implications that it brings, understanding this fact, or you can deny it and say it is not true, that human beings are basically good, but it has to be one side or the other. You either have to believe the Word of God that men are inherently evil, or kid yourself and live in the never-never land that men are basically good. Your whole system of philosophy and education and politics and everything else will be determined by which one of these views you take. This is the great watershed of human understanding right here.

One of the greatest confirmations of this truth is the Constitution of the United States . You know that our founding fathers were aware of this fact. Our founding fathers believed in the wickedness of the human heart. That is why they set up the government in the way they did, so that no single man, no matter how wise and good he may be, can have ultimate power. Every person in a place of authority, according to the Constitution of the United States , has that system of checks and balances by which that person is always checked by somebody else. He has to have his power scrutinized, examined, and counterbalanced by other people.

The reason they set it up that way is that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. They didn't trust anybody, and rightly so if you think what they had been through before they founded this nation. By the way, don't kid yourself for a minute under that system. Because of that system of checks and balances, we have a nation that is one of the greatest nations in the history of the world. It is because there is that inherent safeguard against the evil of the human heart, and I believe that that system of checks and balances are under one of the most serious attacks that we have ever faced in the history of this nation. This is a time for serious concern and serious prayer on our part about the direction of our nation because to the extent that that system of checks and balances is weakened or done away with, to that extent the evil human heart will come to power and even this great nation with all of its greatness and all of its wealth and all of its accomplishment, even this nation can come to nothing because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

The only book in the world that will tell you this is the Bible or books that are based on the Bible. This goes contrary to human thinking, but it is the message of the Word of God. No wonder Jeremiah responds the way he does. Look at the last line of verse 9:

Jeremiah 17:

9 …who can know it?

“Lord, if this is the way life is, how do you expect me to run my own life? How do you expect me to solve my problems? If I can't even recognize that I have problems, if my heart is so deceitful that I can't depend on my heart, then how do You expect me to know what to do? How can you trust me with any responsibilities if this is true?” Look at God's answer in verse 10:

Jeremiah 17:

10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The Solution to our Problems

God says, “You want to know what is in your heart, Jeremiah? Look at what comes out in your life.” God is at work to make our heart what He wants it to be if we will submit to Him. This is the only hope for this deceitful and desperately wicked heart. A well produces water according to the source that the water is coming from. A tree produces fruit according to the source of the fruit. It is useless to count on natural goodness to enrich your life. If what the Word of God says is true, then to count on the leadings and desires of a heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked is foolish. It is like trying to purify the water by whitewashing the pump. What we have to have is a change of heart. Look at what verse 12 says:

Jeremiah 17:

12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.

Here is the place of answers to the situation, the solutions to our problems—the sanctuary of the great high throne of God. One of the reasons people fight this idea of the wickedness of the heart is that they think, “Well, if I can't trust in myself, in whom can I trust? You are asking me to give up control of my life. You are asking me to commit intellectual suicide. If I am not in control of my life, who will be?”

The amazing thing is that that is exactly what the Gospel says. The good news is that God has provided a way by which you can stop running your own life without having everything come crashing down around you. You can let that old life go, as painful and hurtful and scary as that might be because you do have somewhere else to turn. Jeremiah says it here in verse 12. The throne of God is our sanctuary. A great high throne, the very throne of God. That is all available in Jesus Christ. That is where we can hide, in the strongest possible place and turn control of our deceitful, desperately wicked heart over to Him. Trust in His guidance. That is what Jeremiah says in verse 14:

Jeremiah 17:

14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

Jeremiah recognizes what we need to recognize, what we need to be reminded of again today though we may have recognized it in the past and that is that the only hope for the healing of the heart is the healing that God can bring. If you will pray that prayer today that Jeremiah prays, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed,” you will find that you are at rest inside because you don't have to be responsible for what happens. God takes that responsibility. This is the man or the woman who never turns brown or barren or dry in the difficult situations of life that are all around us. This is the person that remains green and strong and vibrant in the life of God flowing through him in spite of drought or disaster that may come around him and surround him, the man or the woman who stands continually before God, repeatedly, in the face of every demand and every temptation and every failure and says, “Heal me, O God, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved.”

Conclusion

Do you need to pray that prayer today? Are you under the burden brought about by a desperately deceitful, wicked heart? Maybe you have prayed that prayer before but you have taken back control over that heart and tried to take over control of your life for yourself. You are trusting in man again. Come to the Father today. Come back to the Father if you need to and say with Jeremiah, “Heal me, and I shall be healed,” and find the peace that passes understanding. You see, at its heart this is an individual matter. Jeremiah was concerned about his nation, but God deals with the individual heart. And if enough individual hearts come to God for healing, come to God for guidance and direction, come to God for a stronghold and a place of safety, God then can spare that nation and deliver us from the things that threaten us, not only individually but as a nation.


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