March 8, 2012 • Lent 17
Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; Luke 16:19-31
by Bruce Preston
Jeremiah warns us that although trust is a natural desire, trust in “mere flesh” is a disaster. Trust in the Lord, however, is “blessed.” This is what we have been taught. Lest we feel too complacent in our understanding, he reminds us our hearts are “devious, perverse” and that the Lord “tests the mind” and “searches the heart.” There will be judgment and reward he says, according to “the fruit of (our) doings”—not according to our understandings.
In Psalms the theme of judgment is continued, yet at the outset—in the very first line of the first verse of the first Psalm—we are told we could be “happy” if we shun the advice of the wicked and “delight and meditate…in the law of the Lord” so that, like fruit, we may prosper and grow. The wicked will be flattened by judgment nor will be allowed to gather in the “congregation of the righteous.” The Lord guides the righteous, but allows the wicked to perish.
The illustration of judgment in Luke is less direct, but all the more powerful. We are presented with circumstances post judgment. The rich man is consumed by flames; the poor man is “with Abraham.” There is no going back. Judgment has been rendered. The rich man’s brothers cannot be warned to change. The only way—it seems—is to listen to Moses and the prophets. Not even will they be convinced “even if someone rises from the dead.”