Jeremiah Chapter 17  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 17
Jer 17:1(top)
Jer 17:2(top)
Jer 17:3(top)
Jer 17:4(top)
Jer 17:5

“who trusts in man.” This is not a blanket statement that we cannot trust anyone at any time. There are obviously times when it is important to trust people, but this is certainly a warning about trusting people. In the context of Jeremiah, the people had turned from God to idols and were exceedingly sinful (Jer. 17:1-2). Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry was to confront all Israel: the kings, officials, priests, and people (Jer. 1:8-19). There were not many people he could trust. In the same way, people today need to be diligent about who to trust. Many leaders and even many clergy, are wrong either out of ignorance or for their own gain.

Occasionally a Trinitarian will argue from Jeremiah 17:5 that Jesus cannot be a man because we are expected to trust Jesus, but not to trust men, and therefore Jesus must be a God-man (there are not many Trinitarians who make that argument, but some do). We feel that analysis misses the point of this verse, and we remind the reader that the entire verse and its context must be read to get its proper meaning. The immediate context reveals that a person is cursed if he trusts man and also turns his heart away from the Lord. But we are not turning our hearts away from God by trusting in His Son Jesus. On the contrary, “he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father” (John 5:23). God is the one who made Jesus our Lord and Head of the Church. Indeed, our hearts would be turning from the Lord if we did not trust Jesus. This same logic applies to other servants of God. The people were not cursed when they followed Moses, or Joshua, or David, and trusted in what they said, because these men were acting for God. Exodus 14:31 says the people trusted God and Moses. The husband of the virtuous woman is blessed when he trusts in his wife, as Proverbs 31:11 (KJV) says, “The heart of her husband safely trusts in her.” It is clear that there are times when trusting another person is completely appropriate.

[For more information on Jesus being the fully human Son of God and not being “God the Son,” see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.” For more on “the Holy Spirit” being one of the designations for God the Father and “the holy spirit” being the gift of God’s nature, see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit?”].

Jer 17:6(top)
Jer 17:7(top)
Jer 17:8(top)
Jer 17:9

“The heart.” This is the only time in the Hebrew text where “heart” is combined with the definite article, and “the heart” is the heart of anyone, that is to say, people in general. The human heart is deceitful.

“deceitful above all things, and is incurable.” The human heart is deceitful, and is incurable. The Hebrew word translated as “incurable” generally refers to being sick, and especially sick beyond being able to be healed (cp. ESV: “desperately sick”). Here that meaning applies, but also by extension it refers to being sick in the sense that it is “corrupt,” “depraved,” “wicked,” etc., and thus “incurably bad” or “desperately corrupt” (cp. ASV; GNV; KJV; NET; NJB; NLT; NRSV; RSV). Because humans have a sin nature that will never go away in this life, there is a very real sense in which the natural human heart is indeed “incurably bad” (NET).

That people are born with a deceitful, corrupt heart shows up in many areas of life. It explains why children have to be taught civilized characteristics such as sharing with others, no biting or hitting, no interrupting the conversation of others, etc. Those things do not come “naturally.” It also explains why even godly people fight with being selfish and self-centered throughout their life, and why the majority of the people of earth refuse to humble themselves to God and obey Him and His Son.

Thankfully, the human heart is constantly changing, and the wise person is in a constant dialogue with their heart so that it conforms to God’s ways of thinking and acting. The more we obey God despite our natural inclinations, the more our heart conforms to God’s ways, and the more “natural” it becomes to think and act like God (a heart changed to God’s ways is also sometimes referred to as “an educated conscience,” that is, a conscience educated to think like God).

The Devil knows that the human heart is deceitful and sick (corrupt), so he keeps up a constant societal pressure for people to “follow the heart,” because he knows it often leads them astray. “Follow your heart” is not the message of Scripture. The message of Scripture is “obey God.” As Moses wrote long ago, “It will be our righteousness if we are careful to do every one of these commandments before Yahweh our God, as he has commanded us” (Deut. 6:25).

“who can know it.” The Hebrew word is the common word yada, “to know,” (#03045 ידע), and it has a wide range of meaning including to know and to understand, and both meanings are applicable here. Who can really “know” their heart and fathom how deceitful and corrupt it really is and who can “understand” their heart and why it causes a person to think and act the way that they do? The human heart is corrupt, which is why we cannot “trust our heart,” we have to trust what God says.

Jer 17:10

“heart.” The Hebrew placed thinking and planning in the heart, and emotions in the organs of the abdomen, the bowels and kidneys. So this verse is saying that God tests our thoughts and emotions so that He can reward us justly.

“kidneys.” The Word of God points to the fact that our kidneys, bowels, and belly (or womb) are part of our mental/emotional life, not “just physical organs.” Our “gut,” including our intestines, bowels, kidneys and stomach contain as many nerve cells as our brain, and studies are now showing that our “gut” contributes significantly to our emotional life and health. [For more on the kidneys and our emotional life, see commentary on Rev. 2:23, “kidneys”].

Jer 17:11

“godless fool.” The Hebrew word translated “godless fool” is nabal (#05036) נָבָל), and it generally refers to a godless person, or a person who acts ungodly, who is a fool, thus in this context the translation “godless fool.” The person who gets rich by ungodly means will be shown to be a godless fool. [For more on “fools” and the nabal fool, see commentary on Proverbs 16:22].

Jer 17:12(top)
Jer 17:13

“written in the dirt.” Anything written in the dirt or dust of the earth in Israel soon disappears. The righteous are written in the Book of Life and will live forever (cp. Exod. 32:32; Dan. 12:1; Ps. 69:28; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). Those people who are not saved will die a second death in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). The unsaved do not burn forever, as is taught by some Christian denominations, but are burned up and die a second death. Jeremiah 17:13 is just one more piece of evidence revealing that fact. The saved are written in the Book of Life, but the unsaved are written in the dust, and like their names in the dust, which are written down but soon disappear, the wicked die in the lake of fire and are gone forever; annihilated. [For more on the annihilation of the wicked, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].

Jer 17:14(top)
Jer 17:15(top)
Jer 17:16(top)
Jer 17:17(top)
Jer 17:18(top)
Jer 17:19(top)
Jer 17:20(top)
Jer 17:21(top)
Jer 17:22(top)
Jer 17:23(top)
Jer 17:24(top)
Jer 17:25(top)
Jer 17:26(top)
Jer 17:27(top)

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