Jeremiah 10-13 The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish

From Jeremiah 10-13

JeremiahIn the scriptures the most common depiction of idolatry is bowing down and worshipping an image of a false god. That is what Jeremiah depicts in today’s passage.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comment

In today’s passage Jeremiah describes the false gods and idols the people of Israel were bowing down too.

“An idol is a man-made image or representation worshiped as deity; any natural or manufactured objects worshiped as deity; anything receiving worship other than the one true God. Idolatry is the spiritual worship of an idol.” (Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.)

“Idolatry is not limited to the worship of false images, but it is placing anything or anyone before God as the object of allegiance and devotion.” (Mounce, William D. (2009-12-08). Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Kindle Location 14604). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

In the scriptures the most common depiction of idolatry is bowing down and worshipping an image of a false god. That is what Jeremiah depicts in today’s passage.

10 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:

“Learn not the way of the nations,

nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens

because the nations are dismayed at them,  (Jer 10.1-2)

Israel is not meant to be like the other nations. They are to reject pagan worship and eliminate it. Jeremiah instructs his audience not to looks to the stars as signs of what is to come as the other nations do. People still do this today.

Do you listen to what people say about your star sign and future? Stop.

3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity.

A tree from the forest is cut down

and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.

4 They decorate it with silver and gold;

they fasten it with hammer and nails

so that it cannot move.

5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,

and they cannot speak;

they have to be carried,

for they cannot walk.

Do not be afraid of them,

for they cannot do evil,

neither is it in them to do good.”  (Jer 10.3-5)

They made their own idols out of wood and metal. Their idols have no life. They cannot do anything. The practice of making an idol, worshipping it and hoping it can do something is vanity. A worthless pursuit. Jeremiah turns his attention to the LORD.

6 There is none like you, O Lord;

you are great, and your name is great in might.

7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?

For this is your due;

for among all the wise ones of the nations

and in all their kingdoms

there is none like you. (Jer 10.6-7)

By way of comparison the LORD is the creator and author of life. He is greater than all things. He is the king and everyone should respect him as such. Now he turns back again to their idolatry.

8 They are both stupid and foolish;

the instruction of idols is but wood!

9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,

and gold from Uphaz.

They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;

their clothing is violet and purple;

they are all the work of skilled men. (Jer 10.8-9)

Jeremiah acknowledges their skill in creating the idols. But at the start he calls idolators stupid and foolish. They are worshipping what they have created.

10 But the Lord is the true God;

he is the living God and the everlasting King.

At his wrath the earth quakes,

and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

11 Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” (Jer 10.10-11)

There is only one God. He is true, he is alive and he is king. So whats the point in bowing down to false, dead and created lumps of wood and metal? All people must respect him because he will come in wrath and judge the nations. He will destroy all idols and their worship.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.Click to enlarge.

After the exile I think the Jews learnt their lesson. They no longer bowed bowed down to idols. Perhaps they struggled with idolatry of other kinds. They looked to the law of Moses as their salvation. They coveted and desired things of this world more than God.

Story of Jesus

Nothing much has changed. When Paul came to Athen’s he saw many idols. Like Jeremiah, Paul was provoked into telling others about the one true King and Judge.

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but know he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17.16-31)

The true King and Judge is Jesus. Give up your idolatry and bow down to him as Lord.

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