From Jeremiah 10-13
Jeremiah comments of the false religion of his day. He compares the ‘gods’ created by some people of Judah to the one true LORD and creator. The people have committed idolatry and are being punished for it. Some have accepted it as their due. Jeremiah wants the LORD to direct his steps. He does not wish to experience the LORD’s wrath, rather he wants the nations who have hurt his nation so much to feel the wrath of the LORD. Jesus announces what the signs of the end of the age will be. They are very similar to what Jeremiah is experiencing. We need to be warned of being led astray from the one true God.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
At the start of chapter 10 Jeremiah ridicules the practice of crafting a god to worship. The idea is ludicrous to him. People cut down a tree. Work the wood with an axe. Decorate the shape they have carved out. Then worship their creation. Jeremiah extols the one true God. The LORD is the living God and the everlasting king of the nations (Jer 10.1-10).
Today’s passage is a continuation of Jeremiah condemnation of Judah’s idolatry.
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 10.11)
Their gods of wood and stone will perish. Jeremiah says ‘who did not make the heavens and the earth’. Drawing an explicit comparison with the one true God who did create the heavens and the earth.
12 It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
16 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name. (Jer 10.12-16)
By his wisdom (Prov 8.12-31) and understanding the LORD created the heavens and the earth. The LORD utters his voice and all creation obeys his word.
Speaking about those who create these ‘gods’ to worship Jeremiah says, ‘every man is stupid and without knowledge’ put to shame by his idols and false images’.
What idols make men become stupid today?
Before Jeremiah compared them to the LORD and his creative power. This time he compares the false gods to the LORD’s relationship to Israel. Jacob (him and his offspring) is his portion. Israel is his tribe.
17 Gather up your bundle from the ground, O you who dwell under siege!
18 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am slinging out the inhabitants of the land at this time, and I will bring distress on them, that they may feel it.” (Jer 10.17-18)
In response to Judah’s idolatry the LORD will cast them out of the land. He will punish them.
The people of Judah respond to the judgment and what is happening to them. They say:
19 Woe is me because of my hurt! My wound is grievous. But I said, “Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.”
20 My tent is destroyed, and all my cords are broken; my children have gone from me, and they are not; there is no one to spread my tent again and to set up my curtains. (Jer 10.19-20)
The people acknowledge the severity of their punishment and have claimed responsibility for it.
Can you think of any good ways to respond to discipline and punishment?
Their homes were destroyed. Their families killed or displaced. No one is around to help them rebuild. They are in a terrible situation.
21 For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. (Jer 10.21)
Jeremiah puts a large amount of the blame on the shepherds of the people. Probably the priests and leaders.
22 A voice, a rumor! Behold, it comes!— a great commotion out of the north country to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a lair of jackals. (Jer 10.22)
A steadily growing series of warnings (‘voice’, ‘rumor’, ‘Behold!’) prepared them for what was coming.
The LORD occasionally gives a series of warnings before he punishes.
A great commotion is the sound of an oncoming army. It comes from the north. Babylon. The armies have come to destroy Judah and afterwards jackals will come to live and feed off the dead.
23 I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. (Jer 10.23-24)
Jeremiah depends on the LORD to direct his steps. Not himself. Rather he seeks a blessing from the LORD. He also asks for correction. Not in anger and wrath. Rather in justice.
Ask the LORD to direct your steps and correct you where needed.
Jeremiah doesn’t want to experience the LORD’s wrath himself. He wants others to.
25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation. (Jer 10.25)
He doesn’t have a lot of compassion for the nations who do not know the LORD. In his context these nations probably posed a threat to his nation and and ongoing temptation to idolatry. These are the nations who are currently destroying Judah. His people.
Jeremiah begins criticising the false religion of his own people around him. False religion is the worship of anything that is not God, including any form of religion that fails to do justice to the glory and majesty of God. Scripture criticises both the practices and the beliefs of false religions.
False religion in the Old Testament normally involved creating some sort of image (Dt 4.28; Ps 115.4-7; Isa 44.10-20). Demons were worshipped (Dt 32.17; Lev 17.7; Ps 106.37-38). Quite often it led them into immorality (1 Ki 14.23-24; Eze 16.16-17; Hos 4.13-14) and human sacrifice (2 Ki 17.17; Lev 18.21; Ps 106.37-38).
False religion receives the full force of the LORD’s anger (Jer 16.18; 1 Ki 13:1–3; 1 Ki 13:33–34; 2 Ki 17:18–23; Jer 22:8–9; Mic 5:13–15; Na 1:14; Zep 1:4–5). The LORD will put an end to it.
In the gospel Jesus predicts the rise of many false religions, prophets, wars and tribulations. He says these are signs of the end of the age.
3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mt 24:3–14)
The historical context Jeremiah was speaking to is the same as Jesus’ and is the same as ours.
All have false worship, wars and tribulation.
The main point we can garner from Jeremiah today is the be wary of false gods and serve the one true God. As Jesus warns – ‘See that no one leads you astray’.
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