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耶利米書十七章 5-8 節，以兩種植物來比喻落在困境中的兩類人：第一類，是心偏離上主，只倚靠個人力量的。他們好像沙漠中的灌木，當「福樂來到，他也必看不見，卻要住在曠野乾旱之地、無人居住的鹹地」（6 節，新譯本）。第二類，是心倚靠上主，仍以上主為可信的。他們好像一棵栽在水邊的樹，這樹的根伸進河裡，當「炎熱來到，並不害怕，樹葉仍然繁茂」，即使在荒旱之年，他們都「不掛慮，並且不斷結果子」（8 節）。
Bearing Fruit during the Drought
Rev Arnold Chow
Following Jesus does not entail "green pastures" and "quiet waters" alone. At times, we see hard times and circumstances – our "darkest valley."
Jeremiah 17:5-8 likens two kinds of people in distress to two kinds of plants:
The first are those whose hearts turn away from the Lord and who depend on the strength of man. They are like a bush in the wastelands and “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" (v.6).
The second are those who trust in the Lord and whose confidence is in Him. They are like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. “It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (v.8).
The environments for the bush in the wastelands and the tree by the water would seem to be different, but the passage here really refers to two plants in one desert environment. Both face scorching heat and harsh circumstances.
Against the background of major crisis, the Book of Jeremiah says that those who trust in the Lord meet difficult times and circumstances just like other people. They have their "darkest valley." In the crisis, many panic-stricken would seek visible guarantees. They find it hard to trust in the invisible Lord. They are like a bush in the wastelands that withers as soon as the dry wind blows.
But the Lord proclaims that for those who trust in Him, the grace that they have received will take them through the hard times. They will be like the tree that sends out roots by the stream, ending up in blessing and happiness. It has been said that this tree refers to the shittah tree, the acacia wood of which is often mentioned in the Bible. The wood is noted for fire-resistance and is a material for tabernacle items.
The shittah tree grows in dry places. Its roots grow deep into the riverbed that is dried up. The tree keeps growing while awaiting occasional rainstorms. Once the raindrops gather into streams and fill the riverbed, the tree's far-reaching roots will store up a lot of water for the drought. On the other hand, the bush does not grow by the riverbed. When rainstorms come, the bush grows fast but it withers once the drought comes.
Now in this city, everybody has experienced a lot of torment. It is just like a drought. But since we have been taught by the Lord and have all along depended greatly on Him, we know that His grace is sufficient. Thus no fears, no worries.
Moreover, the shittah tree is a blessing to others. It provides extensive shade for travelers. It bears pod-shaped seasonal fruit which feeds small animals in the wilderness.
Even in "the darkest valley," we need to bear good seasonal fruit of life and lead others to God who bestows real blessings. Please take your friends and relatives to the evangelistic meetings, "Love transcends everything" (coming Friday) and "Sink, seize, seek" (coming Saturday), both in the evening, with the Saturday meeting particularly suitable for young people.