“The Lord says: ‘Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over. Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they do not have any power to help you.’” (Jeremiah 10:8-11 NET)
We can read verses like this in God’s word and think, ‘how could they have been so naïve’? How could someone go into a forest, cut down a tree, make an image (basically a statue) out of it, decorate it, attach it to a stand so that it won’t fall over, then live in fear of what it might do, bow down and worship it? In many ways that sounds so preposterous that we might think, ‘no one would ever do something like this!’
Yet this has been done for centuries, even in ‘enlightened’ countries. People today still make images and believe they have power over them or others. It is amazing the power of belief!
I would also suggest that we are not that far removed from aspects of this type of thinking. People still cling to superstitions in one form or another. Friday the thirteenth is viewed as a day when bad happens. Many read horoscopes daily, as if the positioning of the stars in some way affects their lives. Or they will ‘touch wood’ hoping for luck. Jeremiah expressed it so well.
“All these idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant. Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made. For the image he forges is merely a sham. There is no breath in any of those idols. They are worthless, mere objects to be mocked.” (Jeremiah 10:14-15)
Why would people turn to superstitions or lifeless man-made images when we can worship and serve the one who created everything?
“The Lord is the one who by his power made the earth. He is the one who by his wisdom established the world. And by his understanding, he spread out the skies. When his voice thunders, the heavenly ocean roars. He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons. He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain. He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it.” (Jeremiah 10:12-13)
Rather than believe in God and trust him, some people today would rather trust in themselves, science or even ‘chance’. Yet all of these are the same as the wooden idols of old. How many times do we get something wrong? How often does science have to update what it taught as ‘fact’ due to new information being discovered? Believing in ‘chance’ or ‘luck’ is the same as believing in nothing.
Perhaps people prefer gods of their own making because it means they are not answerable to the God who created them. After all, if we make a god we can then determine what is truth and what is important. If we choose to serve the one true God then we need to listen to him. We are no longer the one in control but we turn control over to him.
Which would we rather trust? The one who made us and everything around us? Or something that we have made and created in our image? Think about it.
Photo of household gods, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Jon Galloway, 2018.
Readings for next week: Jeremiah 9-17