SCARECROWS IN A FIELD
Gracious God, you are filled with goodness and grace, and you make all things new. Hallelujah!
Read JEREMIAH 10
God and Idols
10 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
6 No one is like you, Lord;
you are great,
and your name is mighty in power.
7 Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
This is your due.
Among all the wise leaders of the nations
and in all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you.
8 They are all senseless and foolish;
they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
9 Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
and gold from Uphaz.
What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
is then dressed in blue and purple—
all made by skilled workers.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
the nations cannot endure his wrath.
11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”[a]
12 But God made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the people of his inheritance—
the Lord Almighty is his name.
17 Gather up your belongings to leave the land,
you who live under siege.
18 For this is what the Lord says:
“At this time I will hurl out
those who live in this land;
I will bring distress on them
so that they may be captured.”
19 Woe to me because of my injury!
My wound is incurable!
Yet I said to myself,
“This is my sickness, and I must endure it.”
20 My tent is destroyed;
all its ropes are snapped.
My children are gone from me and are no more;
no one is left now to pitch my tent
or to set up my shelter.
21 The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered.
22 Listen! The report is coming—
a great commotion from the land of the north!
It will make the towns of Judah desolate,
a haunt of jackals.
23 Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
it is not for them to direct their steps.
24 Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—
not in your anger,
or you will reduce me to nothing.
25 Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the peoples who do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him completely
and destroyed his homeland.
- Jeremiah 10:11 The text of this verse is in Aramaic.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Sit in silence for a moment. What comes into your mind? Tasks that need doing? Exciting opportunities? Compelling concerns? Let God enter and take pride of place.
Let’s give some credit. It takes a lot of time, skill, and effort to construct an idol. It involves the skill of the lumberjack and the sculptor (v 3), the goldsmith and the joiner (vs 4,9), the seamstress and the dresser. And all to what end? These idols cannot speak, cannot move; they have no power at all. They won’t ever come alive like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. They have no moral conscience like Pinocchio. They can do neither good nor evil (v 5). So why has the nation given them such priority?
By contrast, look at the Lord. Verses 12 and 13 vividly paint a picture of the true God, who is powerful, wise and creative. He is not merely living, he is everlasting and his moral authority is unquestionable (v 10). So why has the nation drifted away from him? With a hint almost of exasperation, God declares that he will ‘hurl out those who live in this land’ (v 18). He has had enough.
In his song ‘Peace Will Come’,1 the folksinger Tom Paxton recognizes the world’s need of renewal and sings ‘and let it begin with me’. So too Jeremiah starts with himself. He acknowledges his wanderings and subjects himself to the judgment of God (vs 23,24). We too need to recognize our personal moral weakness as we reflect on the moral weakness of our own nation. Our idols may not be made of wood and stone, but any motive, attraction, obsession or preference that influences us above the Lordship of Jesus Christ is their equal. For the rich young man facing Jesus, it was wealth.2 For us there are infinite other possibilities.
Play the Tom Paxton song ‘Peace Will Come’ (available both on Spotify and YouTube) and use it to lead into a period of meditation, repentance, and forgiveness.
Lord, I can easily drown in a sea of priorities, some of which have become idols in my life. Forgive me and remind me of the importance of you being always first.
1 Tom Paxton, ‘Peace Will Come’, 1972 2 Matt 19:21,22
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