Jeremiah 17:1. The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond:
It is so ingrained in their very nature that you might as well try to erase an inscription that is written upon steel with the point of a diamond as hope to get this perversity out of the nation; it is graven upon the tablets of their heart. What is mere habit can be altered, but what is ingrained in the heart cannot be taken away except by a, miracle of grace. It was the heart that was wrong; the fountain-head was polluted, so what could the streams be but foul.
Jeremiah 17:1. It is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;
Their holiest things were defiled. They wrote up the names of their idol gods even upon God’s altar, and so they bore a written testimony against themselves.
Jeremiah 17:2. Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
God forbade the setting up of altars. There was one altar at Jerusalem, and there were to be no more; but they selected spots where great trees had long grown, they chose the tops of the hills, and they built shrines for their idols there; and there God was angry with them. Oh, how readily we may turn anything into sin! How easily our choicest mercies may be made into occasions of iniquity!
Jeremiah 17:3-8. 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. 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. Thus saith the LORD Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 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. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 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.
Oh, the blessedness of confidence in God! You see it here set out in contrast with the misery of trusting in men. Drought comes even to this tree, and times of trouble some to the believer; but the drought does not affect the tree, for it has secret, underground sources from which it sucks up its life; it spreads out its roots by the river; and blessed is that man who has a secret life, a secret strength, a secret comfort which sustains him in the trying hour. The world cannot perceive it, but he drinks it in, and lives upon it.
Jeremiah 17:9. The heart-
That is the principal matter, it was the heart of the nation which had gone astray from God: “The heart”-
Jeremiah 17:9-11. Is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 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. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not be right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
The prophet likens the man who gets riches by falsehood and oppression to a bird which has many eggs, too many for her to cover, and consequently, though she sits on them, there is such a heap of eggs that they are none of them hatched; they come to nothing. I think I know some men who are very like that partridge. It would be a great mercy for them if they had only half of the eggs that they have, for all they get is the care and trouble of covering them, but no living joy comes out of them; the eggs are addled. He that has not the grace of God in his heart is just like a bird sitting upon addled eggs. Poor soul! “At his end he shall be a fool.” He must therefore be something of a fool now, for he that pursues an end which shall end in folly is a fool to have such an end before him.
Jeremiah 17:12-14. A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.