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I’m (slowly) reading through Jeremiah right now. While our historical context is different today, the messages God gave His people through His prophet are surely relevant. Jeremiah, like the rest of the major and minor prophets, gives us insight into what angers God, what is offensive to God, and how we can and ought to seek Him in repentance for our sinful attitudes and actions.
As a child, I often heard sermons that urged me to “Get right with God!” That’s considered old-fashioned preaching and not typically heard from today’s pulpits. The current Christian culture focuses more on how much God loves us and desires us; we don’t like to hear that God is angry with the wicked and ungodly. It offends us. But it’s a necessary truth. We need to be faced with our lack of righteousness and dreadful state of separation and lostness before we can truly appreciate the way of salvation that Christ came to accomplish on our behalf.
Jeremiah 10 is titled “A Satire on Idolatry” in my Bible. Once you realize who God is, you see how foolish it is for humanity to pledge their loyalty or put their confidence into any other thing.
Jeremiah 10:6-10 –
There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and great is Your name in might.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
Indeed it is Your due!
For among all the wise men of the nations
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You.
But they are altogether stupid and foolish
In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
And gold from Uphaz,
The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith;
Violet and purple are their clothing;
They are all the work of skilled men.
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.
You should read the entire chapter. Jeremiah goes on to say that “every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge” and the works of our hands that we so freely and easily worship are “deceitful, worthless, and a work of mockery” (10:14-15).
Because it is God, the Lord of hosts, who made the earth by His power, established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His understanding (10:11-12).
It’s not pleasant to hear yourself referred to as stupid or foolish, but aren’t we foolish and stupid to put our trust into anyone or anything other than the God who created us? Stand and see the mighty power of a thunderstorm. Look out into the vast depths of the ocean which God alone sets the boundaries so the waves can come only as far as He determines. Then look at the poor imitations of idols that we hold up as worthy of our worship and tell me, are we not foolish?
The definition of idolatry extends past a golden statue. It is anything we put in God’s place, or indeed, any false idea of who He is that we have made up in our feeble, human imagination. We cheat ourselves out of the wonderful, abundant, amazing, soul-satisfying, fulfilling life both here and in all eternity when we settle for the gods we make out of the things of this world.
The right response is to “Get right with God” just as Jeremiah proclaims. Let us set aside our tendencies to conceive of God as we want Him to be, or to build our lives on anything other than the Lord of hosts as He has revealed Himself in scripture. Let us stop our foolish and vain imaginations and worship the true and living God, the everlasting King, the Maker of us all.