Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 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. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 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.” No one is like you, Lord ; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. 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. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. 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. 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. “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ ” But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. 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. 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. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. 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
Well, I have taken an extended Eddy out for the last several days. The semester just began and it is a time of frenzied planning and preparations. It is also a time of new beginnings so it seems appropriate to launch my boat anew and continue my float “down the river” through the book of Jeremiah.
God begins this passage with some sound advice: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them”. He is reassuring those who will listen in this passage that He is much more real and present than any idol that can be created by human hands. If we are going to fear something it would serve us well to fear Him, not because He wishes to harm us, but because He is the ultimate originator of all the heavens and us.
He compares idols to a “scarecrow in a cucumber field”, an inanimate imitation that cannot walk, speak, or even hold itself upright. These idols are something to be ignored rather than revered or feared. They do not have power. Jeremiah agrees with God that He is the only one worth following and the other nations who follow idols are “senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols.” God is “the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.”
Jeremiah makes a clear distinction between worshipping and revering created idols and the God who “made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” God rules over His creation. Both humans and parts of the physical world that often inspire awe in us.
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.” No doubt this has been interpreted by some readers to argue that God is in the business of tossing thunderbolts when it suits Him. I think this is a caricature of what Jeremiah is saying and the creation account in the book of Genesis (Genesis 1:1-2;Genesis 1:6-7 ).
Although I am confident God is the “Father of the Rain” I do not think that He exerts His rule over every drop. He created a “logos” or underlying spiritual and physical order that we experience as part of the spiritual cycle. He also created the hydrologic cycle by which water rises to form clouds and returns to the earth as rain. He is ruler and creator of both the spiritual and the physical — “the maker of all things”.
Prayer: God You are the maker of all things, the Living God. Help us to the faithfully follow You rather than the lifeless idols made by human hands.