Sunday, December 6, 2015

Idols or God?



Jeremiah 10:1–11:23; Philemon 1:1–7; Proverbs 14:1–14

Today, the words of Jeremiah are very harsh. God is speaking to His people about the idolatry of those who live around them. Is this His Word to His people in our time too?

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 . . . . There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood!” (Jeremiah 10:2, 6–8)

Are the “signs of the heavens” still making people downhearted? They are — if those signs are related to weather change and global warming. Is God telling His people not to be dismayed at such things? If so, it is because He is in charge? Whether or not these verses can be applied to me, I’m not supposed to fear what is going on in the world or in the heavens but instead live in awe of Him.

I’m not sure what the people of the world fear exactly, but if it is not the King of the nations, then they are bowing to idols. “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.” Jeremiah told them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” Whatever else people worship will not last. Only God is eternal!

I also must remember that: “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” (Jeremiah 10:10–13) No idol can do that!

If those who worship idols rather than God are called foolish, then what about the people of God who fall into idolatry? In Jeremiah’s day, this happened. He said to them, “For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.”
God also said to Jeremiah, “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult?” (Jeremiah 11:13–15)

A faithless world holds idols, not made of wood or stone, but things like personal comfort and the power to control it. If that is idolatry, what does it say about me when I try to take charge of things that make me uncomfortable instead of trusting Him? Am I not also guilty?

Solomon makes a statement of condemnation against anyone who gets into a power struggle with God: “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” He also says that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:2, 12)

When circumstances become difficult, human logic and reasoning shout that we should be concerned, but faith quietly says that the Lord God is in charge of all things. Faith says that He uses all things together for the good of His people, using even trials to transform us into the image of His Son. That “all things” includes the ups and downs of daily life, the way people treat me for good or evil, and even the weather.

Not only that, I share these thoughts because God wants me to share my faith. Paul wrote to a friend saying, “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ” because he “derived much joy and comfort” from the love of his Christian brother who had also refreshed the hearts of other believers. (Philemon 6–7)

For those who believe in Jesus, the news headlines and even the weather page can be a stress-producer — at least until we remember that our God is still on the throne and sovereign over all things. I can entrust my personal comfort to Him, and if life is not happening the way I’d like, then I can trust Him with whatever is happening and let Him use it to shape me into the image of Jesus Christ.



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