We often associate prophets with an ability to predict the future. The Old Testament prophets are more accurately described as people God uses to explain reality and its consequences. They are the Lord’s megaphone to communicate what is really going on and what it will lead to if left unchecked.

Jeremiah’s proclamation here is not one of punishment. The message from the Lord is not, “if you do this, I will be upset and punish you’. The message, in essence, is ‘if you do this, you are cursing yourself and I will be saddened by that choice’.

The curse is not God’s anger exacted on an otherwise neutral action. The action itself is a curse. When we trust in man, we miss out on what God is doing. We dwell in parched places, because we have chosen to be there. And we will not perceive prosperity. The prosperity of the Lord still comes, but we do not perceive it and therefore ignore it, choosing instead the lesser way.

The natural consequence of choosing to turn away from the Lord is being away from the Lord.

Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. When we choose to trust in God, the reward is in the choosing. Not just a pat on the head because we have done what God prefers. It is truly in our best interest. We will dwell in lush places and perceive the true nature of what it means to prosper.

The Lord beckons us into His presence; the place of peace and hope and true success. Choosing anything else invites the consequence of that choice. But when we choose to trust God, an ability to perceive truly follows. And perception is the foundation for our actions and our experience in this life.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.’”
– Jeremiah 17:5-6