“The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”
—Jeremiah 17:7–8 (CSB)
Introduction to the Text
The children of Israel were not trusting in the Lord in Jeremiah’s day. They were trusting in the flesh. As a result, they would be judged for their sin. Jeremiah 17:7–8 uses the imagery of a fruitful tree planted by a river of water to remind them how to have a fruitful life pleasing to God, but they must obey the Word of God. In this passage, we see a striking similarity to Psalm 1:3: “He is like a tree planted by flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (CSB).
The Lord promises blessing when we place our trust in Him. Consider God’s promise in Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Perhaps the biggest question asked by every Christian after they become a believer is, “What is the will of God for my life?” As you prepare the missions lesson for this month, consider God’s work in the lives of students. Perhaps one or more of them might consider full-time Christian service, specifically giving their lives to serve the Lord in missions. After all, that is the goal: to challenge teenagers to consider God’s call upon their lives. But how do we trust the Lord?
Exposition of the Text
Let’s look closely at Jeremiah 17:7–8.
Verse 7, like Psalm 1:3, says the person who trusts the Lord is blessed or prospers (Ps. 1:3). Blessed literally means happy. Now, we aren’t talking about a prosperity gospel without suffering. We are talking about a person who is satisfied in the Lord and has the confidence that whatever happens in life, God is sovereign and in control. I don’t have to worry about anything. God has control of my life and no matter what happens in this life, God will take care of me.
In the beginning of verse 8 we see that the only way to be able to completely trust in the Lord is to “be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream.” Psalm 1:3 gives us the metaphor of staying in the Word of God and meditating on the Word of God. If we don’t rest in God’s promises when trials and tribulations arise, we become weak in our faith and unable to withstand the pressures and temptations of the world. Unbelievers may scoff and tempt us, but when we focus on the Word, we will be victorious over sin and discouragement.
Likewise, the children of Israel were reminded that in order to have meaningful lives, they must trust in the Lord. The same is true of us. Note what Jeremiah says next in verse 8, “It doesn’t fear when heat comes.” The direction of the culture today is definitely heated. The world is fighting against the Christian with great gusto, but believers must remember that we will win in the end. We have victory through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:57–58).
The next phrase in verse 8 is most interesting: “Its foliage remains green.” Personally, I love the autumn season that consists of beautiful leaves and change of colors, but Jeremiah is telling us that the tree will remain completely alive. The leaves will not fall off, but rather, like the evergreen, will remain green in every season. This assures us of the promise our spiritual lives will remain vibrant and healthy when we trust in the Lord.
The last portion of verse 8 says, “It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.” When we experience discouragement, the Word of God will help us rest in the promises of God and we will still see fruit in our lives. What a wonderful promise!
Application of the Text
Missionaries face difficult situations daily and must remember that God called them where they are. No matter what struggles they face, God is in charge and He will help them as they serve Him with their lives.
Like those who have answered God’s call to missions, we must also put our trust completely in the Lord. We must rest in the promises of His Word, knowing that He will give us fruitful lives pleasing to Him when we allow His Word to change us for His glory.
Bill Halladay serves as the staff writer at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In this role, he assists in the development of sermon-based curriculum for the discipleship ministries of the church. He believes in the importance of educating the next generation regarding the task of local and world missions.