“Hear, O earth; behold, I will bring evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts. For they have not listened to My words and My law, they also rejected it.” Jeremiah 6:19
Fruit Of Their Thoughts – Why must we take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Why should we be held accountable for desiring what doesn’t belong to us even if we do nothing more than think about it (Exodus 20:17)? As long as I don’t actually do anything, does it really matter what I think?
We have been taught to place a priority on our thoughts. But we might not appreciate the full extent of our spiritual mental telepathy. Jeremiah reveals God’s declaration on this subject. Israel is about to fall into captivity because the thoughts of the people turn away from God’s torah. The Hebrew phrase is peri machshevotam. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what this involves.
Peri is fruit, like apples and oranges. But notice that fruit is the natural production of the plant. You can’t get lemons from an olive tree, just as you can’t get righteous behavior from a wicked heart. What matters is the source of the fruit. The results will always exhibit what is found in the source. Just as God observed in Genesis 6, when the imaginations of men are turned toward wickedness, nothing good is produced no matter how it is dressed up. The pictograph demonstrates the reality here. It is “the voice of the person’s work.” Your fruit speaks who you are. Sha’ul understood the Hebrew concept perfectly when he reminded us that the fruit of the Spirit stands in contrast to the production of disobedience (Galatians 5). What you do shouts who you are. But what about the things you never do but only think about?
What about machshevotam? This is the word for thoughts, intentions and the resulting products that come from cognitive activity. The verb behind this noun is hashav (Chet-Shin-Bet). It covers all kinds of mental acts, from thinking, devising, reckoning and esteeming to considering, planning, meditating and imputing. The pictograph shows us “a fence between consuming and the house.” In other words, mental activity is intended to separate what will consume and destroy from what will build up the house. There is a reason for this fence. Left unchecked, desire will overwhelm. What Jeremiah says is this: The people no longer regard the fence. Therefore, what was intended to act as an agent of protection has become a source of evil. Thoughts without boundaries lead to destructive consequences.
Did you notice that this is another example of twisted reality? God intended our thoughts to be a power for good, a fence of protection. Sin twists that power into something else. Released from boundaries, our imaginations are corrupted. I am quite sure we all know the reality of this pretzel. The question isn’t, “Why are we twisted?” The question is, “What is the fence that protects me from being twisted?” God answers. Torati – My Torah. The reason that the thoughts of the people are twisted is this: they have rejected the Torah. They have thrown away the fence. They are no longer protected from themselves. As a result, God Himself will bring evil upon them.
There is a terrible implication in Jeremiah’s declaration. Removing torati causes disaster. Unlike the scientific view of the physical universe, mental activity has direct physical consequences. In the Biblical worldview, what I think brings about real, tangible events. When I refuse to listen to God’s Torah, when I reject His instructions for life, terrible things happen in this physical realm. There is a straight line from hashav to ra’ (evil). The Bible teaches us that we become what we think and without the protective fence of Torah, our thinking will lead us astray. We follow our thoughts straight to destruction.
Now how do you feel about all those “laws”? Do you see that Torah is protection, not restriction? When we live without Torah, we live on the open plain, without shelter, without boundaries, where anything can happen to us – and sometimes does. Just think about it.
Topical Index: torah, thoughts, hashav, peri, fruit, Jeremiah 6:19