“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jer. 17:9)?
“A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary” (Jer. 17:12)!
“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise” (Jer. 17:14)!
“Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil” (Jer. 17:17)!
From the first verse, Jer. 17:9, I feel the pain of the truth of myself before God. My heart is deceitful above all things. It hurts to know it. My case is bad. I cannot recover myself. Nor would I know this unless God revealed it in His word. I would deceive myself into thinking I was acceptable, or could make myself acceptable to God. I can’t. My heart is thoroughly corrupt by nature.
In the second verse, Jer. 17:12, we see the only place of safety. We learn where our eternal refuge is. What is it? It is the throne of Christ! He has risen victorious over all of our enemies (1 Cor. 15:57; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12)! This believer’s only ground of confidence before God is that Christ lived and died and rose for me. He has risen because His obedience and sacrifice for me fulfilled all, and was accepted by God, in my place. He now reigns to bring to pass in my experience all that He accomplished on the cross. He intercedes at God’s right hand in His own person, as my Mediator and successful, conquering King (Rom. 8:34). This is my sanctuary. Here, I am accepted by God. Here, I am safe. Here, I know God. Here, I commune with God.
In the third verse, Jer. 17:14, we see the salvation that flows to us from the throne of Christ. “Heal me, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved. For thou art my praise!” Though we were chosen by God in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:4), and though Christ redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), yet God has ordained that we will only be saved if we are born of God. The salvation to which we were ordained and which Christ purchased with His own blood for us, must be given to us. It is given in the new birth. We are thus healed of our sin plague and raised from spiritual death to the praise of the glory of His grace.
In the last of these four verses, Jer. 17:17, we feel a great comradery with Jeremiah. Destruction and captivity were determined by God upon Jerusalem. In all of life we face untold enemies and anxieties. Yet in all of them, our hope, our certain expectation, is in Christ (2 Sam. 23:5; Rom. 5:3-10). The Spirit of God, by the mouth of Jeremiah, puts this prayer into our heart and mouth to carry to the throne of grace: “Be not a terror unto me, for thou art my hope in the day of evil” (Jer. 17:17)! Evil is constantly with us. Paul said, “When I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom. 7:21). Evil is found inside and outside of us. Inward corruption, the flood of deception from false religion, dangers from wicked men who hate Christ and His people, and the devil himself would swallow us up (Ps. 124:1-8). Yet in all of these, we look to Christ. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 12:11; 1 John 5:4).
Often I feel as if God’s own word raises objections to my salvation: requirements and evidences, all things I am loath to find. I cry, “Lord, be not a terror unto me, for thou art my hope in the day of evil!”
The woman in Matt. 15:21-28 is of great comfort here. Christ’s words must have struck terror into her heart. First, no answer. Then, the rebuff of His disciples. Then, His own purpose for coming seemed to leave her out (but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel). And finally, bread for the children only! No bread for dogs?! I can almost hear her cry, “Lord, be not a terror unto me! For thou art my hope in the day of evil!” Whatever your fear, never let that thing drive you from Christ’s mercy. “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8).