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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 10: The Folly of Idols


[Preliminary Comment : We divide this chapter up as follows:

Part 1: v.1-16: God and idols

Part 2: v.17-22: The Coming Destruction

Part 3: v.23-25: Jeremiah's prayer

The first part reveals how the nations are so foolish to worship man-made idols when they should worship almighty God, the Creator of everything. Part two speaks of the way the coming judgment will scatter and remove the people of God. Part three is Jeremiah's prayer, a request for the Lord to be restrained in the way He brings His judgment.]



Part 1: v.1-16: God and idols


v.1,2 The Lord warns Israel, don't follow other nations

v.1  Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel.

v.2  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.

v.3-5 Their man-made idols are nothing, don't fear them

v.3  For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
v.4  They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it will not totter.
v.5  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.'


v.6,7 By contrast the Lord is all-mighty, all-powerful, unique!

v.6  No one is like you, Lord;
    you are great,
    and your name is mighty in power.
v.7  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.


v.8,9 These idol-worshipping foreigners are plain foolish with their man-made objects

v.8  They are all senseless and foolish;
    they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
v.9  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.

v.10 The Lord alone is sovereign king, the Eternal One

v.10  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.


v.11-13 Contrast man-made idols with man-making almighty God

v.11  ‘Tell them this: “These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”'

v.12  But God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
v.13  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.


v.14,15 Such people are senseless, their idols worthless

v.14  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.
v.15  They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
    when their judgment comes, they will perish.

v.16 The Lord, by contrast is Creator of all things

v.16  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.



Part 2: v.17-22: The Coming Destruction


v.17,18 Get ready to depart the land in the coming judgment

v.17  Gather up your belongings to leave the land,
    you who live under siege.
v.18  For this is what the Lord says:
    ‘At this time I will hurl out
    those who live in this land;
I will bring distress on them
    so that they may be captured.'


v.19,20 Anguish over what will happen, a people scattered

v.19  Woe to me because of my injury!
    My wound is incurable!
Yet I said to myself,
    ‘This is my sickness, and I must endure it.'
v.20  My tent is destroyed;
    all its ropes are snapped.
My children are gone from me and are no more;
    no one is left now to pitch my tent
    or to set up my shelter.

v.21,22 The spiritual leaders don't realise the invader will take their people

v.21  The shepherds are senseless
    and do not enquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
    and all their flock is scattered.
v.22  Listen! The report is coming –
    a great commotion from the land of the north!
It will make the towns of Judah desolate,
    a haunt of jackals.



Part 3: v.23-25: Jeremiah's prayer


v.23 The truth is that people can't manage their destiny

v.23   Lord , I know that people's lives are not their own;
    it is not for them to direct their steps.

v.24 Please be restrained in your anger

v.24  Discipline me, Lord , but only in due measure –
    not in your anger,
    or you will reduce me to nothing.

v.25 Certainly judge the nations who ignore you and take your people

v.25  Pour out your wrath on the nations
    that do not acknowledge you,
    on the peoples who do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
    they have devoured him completely
    and destroyed his homeland.



Continue to Chapter 11