Where do you draw the strength to get out of bed each morning? I mean, just consider the daily drama dripping in headlines. Violence erupts in shopping centers and restaurants, in airplanes and subways, in schools; even church buildings are not untouchable sanctuaries. Are you really safe anymore? A politician warned that climate change will destroy the world in 12-years unless humanity rallies to stop it. (https://nypost.com/2019/01/27/what-science-could-teach-ocastio-cortez-about-climate-change/) This doomsday dread only fuels a panicky, jumpy fear for survival. Two states recently legalized the murder of infants moments before birth (and left unanswered the possibility of killing the child after delivery). (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/virginia-abortion-bill-proposed-by-kathy-tran-third-trimester-today-2019-01-30/) If society feels hopelessly dire now, can you just imagine what life will be like for your [grand]children? Will they be forced to accept ungodly stances on sexuality? Will they be free to worship here? …to gather around the Word here? …to pass the Truth on to their children? Will they face death because of God? That’s enough to keep you tucked in bed, shades drawn, away from such horrible news, away from the heart-wrenching reminders that life is far from what God expects. So, how can you get up in the morning? How can you function in such a broken world? Where do you find rock-solid assurance that everything is truly alright?
Sifting through manmade solutions will not secure the peace so desperately craved. Curses follow misplaced trust. Only one Object of trust produces blessing. Mortal Man, Are You Listening?
Yes, you! Man. Woman. God holds up this faceless person called ‘Man’ and uses a unique word to describe ‘Man.’ He calls him: ‘GEBER’ [גֶּ֫בֶר], which is different than the other two Hebrew words for man. One words is (1) ‘ADAM’ [אָדָם], which means ‘people’ in general, like a crowd of people— men, women, and children. Another word is (2) ‘ENOSH’ [אֱנוֹשׁ], which highlights vulnerable weakness; people can get sick, they can get hurt, they can die. Here, (3) ‘GEBER’ [גֶּ֫בֶר] emphasizes strength. Picture bulging muscles and chiseled bodies (like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). Think about the powerful influence the President of the United States commands or the respect handed to a university professor. This is ‘Man’ standing at the peak of his mighty strength! No disease, no cancer. Sharp mind, intelligent. Raking in truckloads of cash. Demanding superiors to obey him. Mortal man looks invincible.
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the man (‘GEBER’ [גֶּ֫בֶר]) who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength; [whose] heart turns away from the Lord.” This is the 25-year-old who believes he still has decades left to live, decades longer to embrace God. So, he skips worship to snowmobile, fish, hunt, and travel. This is the 62-year-old grandmother who exchanges time with God for time with grandson’s peewee game. This is the 54-year-old who gloats over his degrees. He believes in science and philosophy more than he does the simple truths of Scripture. This is the 30-year-old woman who scrounges for self-worth in the success of her children. Mortal man exalts human achievements as proof of individual might! She believes nothing can hinder her from improving life. He believes nothing can stop his life. Mortal man may feel invincible, but proves himself foolish to believe that he is invincible. He steps into the curse of trusting shriveling strength and rotting mind.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands… dry, parched, beaten ragged, torn and ripped. [H]e will not see prosperity when it comes… like a man I once met. He was dying. When he heard how God sent Jesus to save him, he considered it just one heart-warming story among many. Even hours from death he pushed aside God’s good Word. Mortal man will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives… Mortal man trusts himself. So, when trouble arises, he has nowhere to flee. He panics at terrorism. She fabricates meaningless comfort when someone dies. Worse of all, God only sees a dry, lifeless heart.
Mortal Man, Are You Listening? Yes, you. You (and I) also fall into that category of a ‘GEBER’ [גֶּ֫בֶר]-man. You (and I) wrestle with the heart well aware of the spiritual benefits of reading our devotions, but the heart still crafts the lousy excuse: ‘I’m too busy.’ That heart is actually admitting: “I can rely on my wisdom today.” That heart hears how God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). Yet, when distressing news flashes across the television, the heart jumps into despair. Why? Because it does not trust that God has control like he says he does. The heart knows God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7). Still, it chooses to lie and manipulate, to hold grudges and defend adultery. Then it believes that it can somehow dupe God into believing that you are more moral than you truly are!
Trusting in your strength, your supposedly superior intellect throws you under a curse. Curses follow misplaced trust. Trust in your strength and you will wallow in fear because you lack the power to control global events. Trust your status and you will be crushed when time forgets your identity. Trust your health and you will be shocked when you enter eternity unprepared. And that, dear Christian, is the greatest curse of all: To stand forever separated from the loving care of God. That is what pride earns.
Mortal Man, Are You Listening? God sees the pitfalls of human strength (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s why he speaks these words. He speaks so that you hear. He speaks so that you know Curses follow misplaced trust. He speaks so that you see Only one Object of trust produces blessing.
Your Lord reveals that blessing. He plants into your world. Jesus delights in the Word of the Lord. He meditates on it each week in the synagogue during worship (Luke 4:16). Not only does he meditate on it, but he tucks it into his heart. His every word, every action drips what it hears and reads. You see, throughout his 33-years of life, Jesus encounters tragic headlines too. The death of a child (Luke 7:11-17). Many killed when a tower falls on them (Luke 13:3-5). The sick, diseased, and crippled led to him. Hatred because he clings to God. A proud heart like ours would detour into manmade solution, manmade comforts, manmade strength. Yet, Jesus stands rooted in God’s promises.
For you God the Father plucks Jesus out of life. He tosses him into that dry desert of our pride and he leaves him to die. The One full of life is set in a tomb, a land where no one lives. God’s solution to our tragic curse of death is to make Jesus die instead. And that full, vibrant life broke our curse forever. [B]lessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Yes, this is mortal man— this is you (and me). We have health, we have strength and we are blessed. Blessed because one day that strength will fade and we will die, and God will plant us in his kingdom of heaven.
Actually, God has planted us in his kingdom now. God has given you the gift of faith. That faith is rooted, grasps, and clings to the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again for you. He is your Object of trust. He is only One who produces blessing in your life now.
[You] will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. Picture an oasis. In the middle of this dusty dead desert dot lush, flourishing trees. In the middle of this splendid little grove bubbles a pool of water. The scorching sun will beat down on the tree and it sucks water out of that tree. Yet, [the tree] does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. Streams flow constantly; they never stop. Think about that. Water flows in fair weather and stormy weather. Water flows on hot days and on fair days. Water flows every day. It always replaces what is lost. Tragedy may burn deep into you. People seemingly die too soon and you do not understand why. The raw pain of never seeing that tender face again, of never hearing that sweet voice only saps your strength. Do not fear when death comes; Jesus’ Word streams constant refreshment. Soak up this comfort: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26). If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8).
Maybe the foolish choices of a loved one saps your heart. It hurts to see your child, raised to know God, now choose to live an ungodly life. It hurts to watch your brother drift from God. You feel so powerless, unable to do anything. Do not fear the heat; stand strong because of God’s promises. The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Speak God’s truth about sin and forgiveness with respectful love (Ephesians 4:15). Let God’s truth pierce heart and conscience. Stand content knowing it is God’s truth that changes hearts.
[The tree] has no worries in a year of drought… It does not worry where its water will come from or if it will have enough. A steady stream provides steady strength. You are witnessing a drought in godly living. Sexual boundaries crossed. Innocent lives aborted. Disrespect and shame openly paraded. How will you live in a world like this? Do not worry. Sink your roots into the word. Remember: The kings of the earth take their stand against the LORD and The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2:2,4). God has called you to live a holy life: to respect your body, to respect life (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Then, shine like a light in this world (Matthew 5:16). Sometimes that involves clearly stating what God teaches. At other times that includes giving clear testimony to your priorities by the way you live. As for world events, Be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).
[The tree] never fails to bear fruit.” Even in trying times, it still produces. You may not realize it now, but when you stop and look back on life, you may see that you have grown spiritually. Death strengthened your grip on Jesus’ resurrection promise. Disappointment reminded you of sin’s ugly presence in this world and that heaven is your real home. Godlessness compels you to be a little more verbal on what you believe. You hold the blessing increased faith. You are mortal, but you still stand because One Object of trust produces blessing.
That is how you can get up in the morning. That is how you can function in such a broken world. That is where you find the rock-solid assurance that everything is truly alright. You sink your heart and mind into the Word. In the Word God reveals his might. You get to live under that might.
Sifting through manmade solutions will not secure the peace so desperately craved. Curses follow misplaced trust. Only one Object of trust produces blessing. That Object is Jesus— and all that the Bible teaches about him. So, Mortal Man, Are You Listening?