Who’s to Blame? – Derelict Pastors! (Jeremiah 10; Jeremiah 11)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 10; Jeremiah 11

Our study of the prophecies of Jeremiah continues with our Scripture reading comprising Jeremiah 10-11. Jeremiah 10 will be the focus of today’s devotional commentary.

Assuming Jeremiah was continuing his message “in the gate of the LORD’s house” (Jeremiah 7:2), we pick up our study with the prophet heralding to those who had come to the Temple: “1Hear ye the word which the Lordspeaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, And be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; For the heathen are dismayed at them” (10:1-2).

The heathen of Jeremiah’s day, were a superstitious, fearful lot, who looked to “the signs of the heaven” for wisdom and direction. Jeremiah challenged the people, to not follow the foolish ways of the heathen!

Jeremiah Mocked the Idols Men Worshipped. (10:3-5)

The prophet described the absurdity of men who worship gods of their own making, and imagined them cutting down trees, taking the stock, and then carving and shaping it into an idol they worship (10:3). Such men adorned their gods, overlaying the wood with silver and gold, and taking up hammer and nail to fasten the parts (10:4).

Drawing upon the foolishness of idols, Jeremiah mocked those who worship impotent gods that cannot speak, nor move of their own will (10:5a). Such idols must be borne about, and God’s people have no reason to fear them, for they can do neither evil or good (10:5c).

There is None Like the God of Heaven. (10:6-13)

Contrasting the “brutish and foolish” (stupid and senseless) men who worship idols made by “cunning men” (10:8-9), Jeremiah reminded the people the God of Israel had revealed Himself to them (10:6-7, 10-13).

Lifting his eyes to heaven, Jeremiah worshipped the LORD and declared, the LORD is not a God among many; He is great, mighty, and the Sovereign of the nations (10:6-7a). He is superior, and “there is none like unto [Him]” (10:7b). The LORD is true, living, eternal, and He is a just and righteous judge (10:10).

While the heathen worship idols that have created nothing and will come to nothing (10:11), the God of the Scriptures is the Creator of earth, and by His wisdom, He sustains and knows the breadth of the heavens (10:12). He is the God of nature, for by His voice the waters move, and complete their cycle (evaporation, rain, lightings, and wind, 10:13).

The Natural Man Apart from God and His Revelation (10:14-15)

What is man? He is “brutish in his knowledge,” a foolish, senseless being (10:14a). He is like the idols he has fashioned, vain, and delusional (10:15a), and in the day of God’s judgment he shall perish with his gods (10:15b).

God’s Covenant People (10:16-18)

Unlike the heathen who, left to themselves, were without knowledge and spiritually depraved, the LORD had chosen Israel for His inheritance (10:16). The God of Jacob “is the former [Creator; framer; maker] of all things” (10:16a). The LORD chose Israel as the “rod [the symbol of a tribe or people] of His inheritance” (10:16b). Who is God? “The LORD of hosts is His name” (10:16c), for He is the LORD of all!

Though the LORD had chosen Israel and Judah, they had broken covenant with Him, and He had removed His blessings and protection. Jeremiah declared, “Gather up thy wares” (pack up your belongings), inhabitants of Jerusalem (10:17). The people of Judah, like Israel before them, would be expelled out of the land, and afflicted (10:18).

A Faithful Prophet (10:19-20)

Though Jeremiah would serve as God’s prophet for 40 years, Judah refused to heed his warnings, and spurned his invitations to turn from their sins to the LORD. Yet, he felt the anguish of His people, and cried, “19Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: But I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it” (10:19). He was a preacher who loved the LORD, and cherished His people, but they had become a grief to bear. His own home [“tabernacle”] was destroyed, and there were none to come to his aid (10:20).

Derelict Pastors (10:21-22)

The failure of the people to hear the word of the LORD was not that of His prophet. The pastors, the civic and spiritual leaders, had failed the people (10:21). The pastors of Judah were a “brutish,” foolish, morally depraved lot, and had “not sought the LORD” (10:21a). The people, following their leadership, would not know the blessing of the LORD, and would be scattered among the heathen like sheep lost in the wilderness (10:21b).

Closing thoughts – Jeremiah foretold Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion would come upon Judah, and the cities would be destroyed, and become a haven for “a den of dragons” (jackals; wild beasts, 10:22c). Then, Jeremiah did the one thing you and I can do when we observe the frightening state of our country and world…He prayed (10:23-25).

Jeremiah confessed the natural man is foolish, and finds no wisdom or direction within himself (10:23). He prayed for God’s grace and mercy, saying, “24O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; Not in thine anger…” (10:24). He called upon the LORD to remember how the heathen had abused His people, and to pour out His wrath upon those men who had not known, or called upon Him (10:25).

Oh that God’s people would remember who the LORD is (10:6-13), and pray for His grace and mercy upon our families, friends, and nation (10:23-25).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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