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.’”
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.
(Jeremiah 10:1-16 NIV)
There is a lot in today’s Scripture, and we need to handle it as a monolithic block of text rather than divide it up and analyze the individual parts. In today’s passage, the Lord compares and contrasts Himself with the false gods of the nations around them. We can read today’s passage from two points of view: 1) as a satirical roasting of the false gods that the children of Israel were following, and 2) as a teachable moment to turn the people of Israel back to the One True God.
Verse 2 points out the absurdity of fearing astrological events as signs (the sun, moon, and stars, including comets, lunar and solar eclipses, etc.). Also, the Lord instructs us not to fear idols made by human hands (vv. 3-5). These are worthless idols that can neither harm nor help anyone.
Instead, the Lord tells us to fear Him, the maker of heaven and earth (vv. 6-7). Again, verses 8-9 show the foolishness of those who make a practice of worshipping man-made objects. Rather, the Lord says to worship Him, the One who is living (v. 10).
Verse 11 is written in Aramaic, which was known and understood in most cultures in Jeremiah’s day. This verse was written to be a universal proclamation to everyone: the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish. Verses 12-15 are the contrasts of the Lord versus the creators of the man-made idols.
Verse 16 is the final contrast of the passage that ties everything together. The Lord is saying that He created everything, and as such is Sovereign, Creator, and master of all. This truth is in contrast to the belief that the people “owned” their wooden images, which led to them believing they could use their gods for their selfish purposes. God cannot be “owned” by anyone, as He is the owner of all. Our commitment is to His service, not vice versa.
May we not slip into the false sense of “owning” God, and thus think that we can demand that He perform at our whim, like some cosmic vending machine,
Rather, may we humbly acknowledge His sovereignty, bow our knee, and seek to be of service to Him.
May the words we speak of our Savior and Lord be fresh and offer living hope, not dead, idolatrous rhetoric that drives away others who would seek Him.