Tuesday, 9 December 2014

IS YOUR GOD NOTHING MORE THAN A SCARECROW? JEREMIAH 10:1-25

JEREMIAH 10:1-25 
1. DO NOT THINK OR ACT LIKE THE WORLD - v1-3a
v2 Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, v3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
We all want to fit in. We want to be like others. Churches want to fit in to their day and age. None of us want to be thought of as 'odd'. We live in a particular culture where people think in a certain way. The desire and pressure to fit in, to belong, can be very great.
We live in a tension. On the one hand we know that we are not to be conformed to the world:
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
On the other hand we desire to remove all unnecessary barriers to belief in the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9v19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.
21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Then Paul's instructions to the Romans suggests that it takes real discernment to know the will of God in some issues, to know what is the good and acceptable and perfect.
"Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world's empty glory is costing me too dear."
Jeremiah is concerned that the people are becoming too taken up with wanting to be like other nations. They are taking an unhealthy interest in the way of the nations. They are learning from them. so much so that they are beginning to share their same fears (astrology?).
Do not do this - their customs are vanity (like a mist).
There are some things we do not need to know, and are better off not knowing! 1 Cor 14:20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
The Lord's people would be far better off being infants in their knowledge of idols.
2. IDLE IDOLS ARE IGNORANT ONLY CONSULTED BY IMBECILES - v3b-16
Jeremiah 10v5 "Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,..."
v8 They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood!
v14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
[1] v3b-6 WHY WORSHIP A SCARECROW?
The farm I grew up on had scarecrow. It wore my Dad's old jacket and trousers. It's job was to keep the birds off the strawberry field. After a while the birds used it as a resting place!
An idol may be dressed in silver and gold, but underneath it is no different than a scarecrow - they cannot speak, they have to be carried, they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them.
See Psalm 115v4-8
See Tim Keller: What is an idol - page xvii-xviii
You can make your husband/wife an idol; your children an idol; your job an idol. Things that are good in themselves can become an idol. If anything happens to your idol then you are shattered. Your treasure has gone.
PRAISE 732v1&4
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
be thou mine inheritance now and always;
be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.
[2] v7-10 THERE IS NONE LIKE THE LORD - v6a & 7b
Idols creep into our hearts? How for they cannot move? The same way the Trojan Horse entered the city - the people took it in. We bring idols into our lives without even realising what we are doing.
We need to 'spring clean' our minds and hearts on a regular basis.
Idols once in place are difficult to move. There is only one way we can move them. That is to see how much better, how more desirable, is the Lord.
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) preached a sermon called: 'The Expulsive Power of a New Affection'
There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world—either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.
My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it.
The only way to remove an idol is to replace it by something greater, more worthy, more glorious - the Lord himself.
So Jeremiah shows that the Lord is greater than their silver and gold idols.
[3] v11-16 GOD THE CREATOR IS REAL, IDOLS ARE A DELUSION:
Jeremiah is not ashamed to appeal to the fact that God created the Universe - v11-12. The foreign nations did not believe this but it is the truth.
We should not be ashamed of the doctrine of creation. All people know this is true, even those who most vehemently deny it.
God not only made the world he also is still very active in it - v13
Idols will put their makers to shame, not so the Lord who made heaven and earth - v14-16.
3. v17-25 GOD WILL BE GOD
v23 I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
[1] v17-18 PREPARE FOR EXILE
The Lord is going to sling them out of the land, as he has warned them many times.
[2] v19-21 A LAMENT FOR A WOUND
Who is lamenting? Is Jeremiah lamenting, but he had no children? Is it Jerusalem or Judah? Do we hear God's lament over his children? Properly something of all these.
Bad leadership resulted in the scattering of the flock - v21.
[3] v22-25 DANGER FROM THE NORTH
Once again Jeremiah warns that the enemy will come from the North. The mention of wild animals adds to the picture of desolation.
Jeremiah acknowledges the sovereignty of God. This is something every Christian has trouble with because it goes against the world's thinking, our own before we became Christians, and the devil's against it.
Yet, what peace of mind knowing that God is sovereign gives when we can say as Jeremiah in v23.
When we see God is sovereign we stop questioning all he does for we trust him more than we trust ourselves. We believe all he says about himself and about us. We not only let God be God we are glad that he is.
This however, does not turn us into fatalists! Jeremiah pleads for God not to bring his full anger upon his people - v24; and for him to bring his wrath upon those who devour Jacob, the Lord's people.



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