Finding Hope in God
Category : General
Jeremiah 17: 5 (KJV)
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.
We are made to understand that the Jews were given to worldly policies and thought to make themselves strong by the friendship of the Egyptians, (Isaiah 31:3) and strangers and in the meantime did not depend on God, and therefore he denounces God’s plagues against them, showing that they prefer corruptible man to God, who is immortal, (Isaiah 2:22) ; (Jer.48:6-7). Their hope was in man.
The condemnation on them was one of rejection. As the Jews did in the Egyptians and Assyrians; and in Abraham their father, and in being his seed, as they did in Christ’s time; and which was trusting in the flesh; and as all such may be said to do who trust in their natural descent from good men, Matthew 3:9, they also trusted in Moses, in the law of Moses, and in their having, hearing, and obeying it; which pronounces every man cursed that does not perfectly perform it: they trusted in themselves, and in their own righteousness; despised others, and rejected Christ and his righteousness; and brought an anathema upon them, John 5:45 and all such that trust in their own hearts, and in their own works, trust in man, in the creature, in creature acts, and involve themselves in the curse here denounced. The Jews also, to this day, expect the Messiah to come as a mere man, and so trust in him as such; and all those that call themselves Christians, and take Christ to be a mere creature, as the Arians, and a mere man, as the Socinians, may be said to trust in man, and entail a curse upon themselves; though we trust in Christ, yet not as a man, but as he is the true and living God.
We also see that ‘Flesh’ here is to be taken for man, as we may easily gather from the context. It was a common thing with the Hebrews to state the same thing twice: In the first clause man is mentioned, and in the second flesh: and arm means power or help. The meaning is, that all are accursed who trust in man. But the word flesh is no doubt added in the second line by way of contempt, according to what is done in Isaiah 31:3, where the Prophet says, “The Egyptian is man and not God, flesh and not spirit.” He calls the Egyptians flesh by way of contempt, as though he had said that there was nothing strong or firm in them, and that the aid which the Jews expected from them would be evanescent. So, it is in this place, though the Prophet, according to the common usage, repeats in the second clause what he had said in the first, he yet expresses something more, that men are extremely sottish when they place their salvation in a thing of naught; for, as we have said, there is nothing solid or enduring in flesh. As men therefore quickly vanish away, what can be more foolish than to seek safety from them?
Here in Jer.17:5 God sternly warns against placing our dependency on man and calls it a curse. Today, more and more people are finding themselves alone and depressed, and few of us have not at one time, or another felt the sting of despondency and despair. But Good news! Help is available, not the kind the world has, wherein it wishes for the best. It is one thing to wish, and quite another to have faith based on the promises of God. Let us then know that all those who place the least portion of their hope in men do in part depart from God, and therefore turn aside from him. In short, the Holy Spirit declares, briefly indeed, but very solemnly, that all are apostates and deserters from God who turn to men and fix their hope in them. But if this declaration be true as to the present life, when we treat of eternal life, it is doubtless a twofold madness if we ascribe it, even in the smallest degree, either to our own righteousness or to any other virtues. He who looks for aid from men is pronounced accursed by God, even when he expects from them what belongs to this frail life, which soon vanishes; but when we hope for eternal life and the inheritance of heaven from ourselves or from other creatures, how much more detestable it is? Let us then observe this inference, so that the truth taught here by the Prophet may keep us dependent on God only.
Have a Great and God filled Day