Monday, July 6, 2015

There’s No Comparison

Jeremiah 10:1-25

“Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” (Jeremiah 10:1-5)

One of Israel’s biggest problems throughout history has been their tendency to adopt the practices and beliefs of the people around them.  God warns them not to follow the practices and beliefs of those people.  those who did not believe in God were continuously looking for some special sign in heave to know what was going to happen, with the result that the Chaldeans and others had developed detailed studies of the relationships of the various stars and planets in an effort to predict the future.  Horoscopes and astrology are just some modern day versions of those beliefs, as is the focus on the four blood moons or various other efforts to predict the future based on astronomical events.  God’s people were not to allow themselves to worry about these things, just because others were. 

Instead they should consider how meaningless and hopeless what those people’s practices were.   A person would cut a tree in the forest and carve it to a special shape, then ooverlay it with sheets of silver or gold and nail it up where it wouldn’t fall from its place.   When they finished the idol they had created could not speak or move around under its own power.  Obviously they offered on threat since they  had no power to anything, either good or bad.  There was no reason to worry about them or what they might want. 

“Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.  But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.  Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.  But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.” (Jeremiah 10:6-10)

God is not at all like those idols they make.  He is a living god who has real power, even to the creation of the universe.  There is every reason to fear God’s power and is foolish not to consider it since it affects everything on earth.  Compared to God, even the most intellectual and educated men are like the least intelligent animals, incapable of making logical decisions.    The chunk of wood they have carved into an idol is simply a useless waste of time, and the silver  and cold with which they overlay it do not give any special properties as they are only products of human craftsmanship,  just as the fancy tapestries and clothing that are made for them.  God, on the other hand is the true and living God and the everlasting King.  The entire earth shakes at his anger and no nation will be strong enough to survive his judgment.    

“Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.  When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” (Jeremiah 10:11-13)

Every trace of the idols that people worship will ultimately be destroyed.  God created the earth by power and made it function in an organized manner by his wisdom, creating the entire universe based on his judgment.  By just speaking he causes the water to evaporate from all over the earth and be collected into one area forming rainclouds.  He causes the it to fall as rain and the lightening and wind to accompany it.

“Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.  They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.  The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.  Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.  For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.” (Jeremiah 10:14-18)

By comparison to god, every Human being is like one of the animals.  The things we make are only copies of what god has made that have no power in themselves and when we ascribe such power, we are only confusing ourselves.  Ultimately, they are a waste of effort based on mistaken ideas that will fail at some point in time.  The God of Jacob is nothing like that, because he made everything and the nation of Israel is the scepter of his kingdom.  Those who have made and sold their idols need to get out of His land because He is going to shake it and sling them out if they are there when he starts. 

“Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.  My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.  For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.  Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.” (Jeremiah 10:19-22)

Because those who were responsible for leading and teaching God’s people, the pastors have become like animals concerned only with their own comfort and pleasure, no longer concerned with Lord, the people have strayed like a bunch of sheep without a shepherd.    When they are attacked by the northern countries, it will cause a commotion like a bunch of sheep when attacked by a lion or wolves, just killing for the sheer pleasure of it and leaving the land occupied only by lizards and snakes.  There has been no concern with God’s feelings, just leaving him to deal with it. 

“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.  O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.  Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.” (Jeremiah 10:23-25)

Although our pride leads us to believe we can control our destiny, we really have little power to do so.  In fact we have difficulty even controlling our own actions, as demonstrated by our inability to lose weight or give up some addiction.  Jeremiah asks that God would correct him chastising him before He is angered by his actions, so he was not destroyed.  He asked that he destroy those who refuse to be corrected and reject God because of what they have done to His people.


  1. Thank you, Donald, for the excellent post pointing out Israel's tendency to copy the practices of their neighbors, even forbidden practices such as idolatry. Sadly, many churches are in much the same position today, trying to blend in with and cater to the world, even to he point of offending God and going against His Word. May the church be a called-out, separated people fit for His service.
    God bless,

    1. It is a situation I am especially concerned about because like you, I see a trend to try to please the world even at the expense of disobeying God, and as Jesus said, no man can serve two masters. Christians who try end up disrespecting adn ignoring God.