Jeremiah elaborates on the futility of idols. Keep in mind that in those days there was no concept of an invisible God beyond Judaism. So the Gentile nations made their gods in various ways such as cutting down a tree, chiseling the wood, covering it with gold or silver, carrying it, fastening it down (so it doesn’t fall) and then worshipping it.
Jeremiah 10:8 (NKJV) “But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.”
Jeremiah explains and proclaims, there is none like the LORD our God (Jeremiah 10:6)
Jeremiah 10:10 (NKJV) “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.”
God is not made BY us, no, the LORD is the one who made and maintains us. He’s the Maker not only of mankind but of all heaven and earth. Our God is not a lifeless, helpless idol, and it’s for that reason the second commandment given in the decalogue says:
Exodus 20:4–5 (NKJV) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.
Those idols, statues, and images of God are forbidden by God! We are not to bow down to ANY idols.
In Jeremiah 10:17 he transitions into the judgment of Judah by the Babylonians. We can point to many reasons for this judgment, not only the idols of the people but even the so-called spiritual leaders of the people:
Jeremiah 10:21 (NKJV) “For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the LORD; therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”
Jesus dealt with this frequently in His earthly ministry, the spiritual leaders did not know the Lord. What happens when the blind lead the blind? (Matthew 15:14) As a pastor, passages like this make me check my heart, am I truly seeking the Lord? It’s imperative that I do, for the spiritual prosperity of the flock is at stake.
Jeremiah gets a little personal:
Jeremiah 10:23–24 (NLT) “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. 24 So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.”
Jeremiah prayed for God’s plans. He knew that woven into God’s plans are God’s “punishments.” We can make our own plans, but the Lord directs our steps, He has the final say, and I’m grateful for that. (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21) Jeremiah knew he deserved God’s discipline (we all do), but He also knew the importance of God’s mercy, how much he needed it (we all do) so he prayed for that.
In Jeremiah 11 the Lord commanded him to go out and preach on the streets of Jerusalem, “Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant.” (Jeremiah 11:3) Yet they did not obey, therefore God promised to bring calamity upon them, none would be able to escape. They would cry out to their gods and burn incense to them, but they would not be saved. Again the LORD tells Jeremiah not to pray for these people to be delivered – their only hope not to be damned, was to be disciplined.
At this point the people have had enough of this prophet. Jeremiah was obedient to God and docile with the people but a scheme was being devised to kill him. Jeremiah prayed, and God promised to protect him, and judge the people of Anathoth who sought to destroy His life.
Jeremiah would be persecuted and eventually put in a pit, but he would not die until the day he was done. Jesus forewarned us that the world would hate us, just as they hated Him (John 15:18-19) but we must stay true to the Lord. We must live – and give God’s Word no matter how unpopular and offensive it becomes.
Wives are to be submissive. Husbands are to be loving. Children are to be obedient.
Parents are not to provoke their children (this can happen with expectations that are too high, neglect, inconsistent discipline, favoritism, anger, or demeaning). God help us to be our children’s greatest encourager.
When we go to work, let’s remember, we work for God. We’re not to only work hard when our human boss is watching, no – we live and labor for the Lord!
Colossians 4:1 concludes this section in which Paul addresses various roles one has in life; this particular passage exhorts employers to be fair to their employees, knowing that they have a Boss in heaven to whom one day they will give an account. Pastor Chuck offers words of wisdom, “No one can really rule properly unless he is ruled. We will answer to the Lord someday. Whenever you put a man into leadership who doesn’t understand that he is under authority, a tyranny will always develop…”
Paul then encourages the church to continue earnestly in prayer. James used Elijah as an example of a man who was just like us, but he prayed earnestly and in doing so he was able to open and close the heavens (James 5:17-18). Let’s never give up on our prayer life, let it be earnest and constant. Let’s be vigilant and thankful to God. Paul’s not ashamed to ask the people to pray for him – for open doors to share the gospel even though he finds himself in prison (see also Luke 11:9; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Revelation 3:8).
Paul’s not the only one who has a heart for the lost. Colossians 4:5-6 speaks primarily of the way we ALL should have a heart to win the lost to the Lord (we need eyes to evangelize). “Those who are outside” refers to non-believers. We are to walk in wisdom in the presence of the unsaved knowing they’re watching us (Proverbs 11:30). Our time is limited, so let’s guard our witness – the way we live, the way we speak should make others thirsty for Christ, just as salt creates a thirst in people.
Warren Wiersbe elaborates, “The unsaved are outside the family of God, and it is our task to bring them in. Effective witness involves walking wisely, being alert to every opportunity, and being careful in what we say and how we say it (1 Peter 3:15–17).”
In the closing section of Colossians Paul mentions eight co-laborers in the Lord, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus (called Justus), Epaphras, Luke and Demas. Even Paul needed help, he was only able to get the job done by having brothers who labored in the Lord, how grateful he was for all of them. They were brothers, ministers, servants; they were faithful and beloved.
Every one of them has a story. Mark was a man who failed Paul in the past but was now completely restored to Paul and ministry (see Acts 15:36-40; 2 Timothy 4:11). Demas, on the other hand, seemed to do the opposite; he started off well, but in the end, he had forsaken Paul because he loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10).
I’ve always been enamored by the testimony of Epaphras, he labored in prayer for the Colossians. The Greek word translated “laboring fervently” is “agonizomai” it’s related to our English word “agony.” In other words, Epaphras agonized in prayer for the people, that they would, “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” What an inspiration for all of us, but especially those of us who are ministers.
Archippus may have been a leader or the pastor of the church in Colossae, but the appeal applies to all of us, let’s open our eyes to whatever ministry God has called us to!
Colossians 4:17 (NKJV) “And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.'”
God you that certain responsibility, God put you there…let that truth sink in. Paul says, we’ll then be able to fulfill our ministry, complete and finish it for the glory of God and the good of His people.
In spite of all that God had done for Israel (they had tasted His goodness repeatedly) it didn’t matter, they doubted, defied, denied, and tested Him who loved them.
They turned their backs on God, were unfaithful to Him, they turned aside and provoked Him to anger, moved Him to jealousy, even to fury, by serving other gods.
If only we would stay true to our Maker and Maintainer. Why do our hearts so easily drift? This Psalm is the history of Israel – may we learn from their tragic mistakes.
God was furious with the the nation, so He forsook the tabernacle, and delivered His people into bondage. He them over to the sword, the young men died, the maidens were not married, the priests even fell, and their widows made no lamentation.
Sometimes I think we have this misconception that no evil can befall us, but that’s not true, for if we forsake the Lord, we bring it upon ourselves.
The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was falling back into their old ways; listen to what is written:
Hebrews 10:31 (NKJV) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV) “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Although God had chosen Israel, loved them, blessed and graciously cared for them, they turned their backs on Him, over, and over, and over again. Israel therefore experienced the heavy hand of God’s discipline.
As this Psalm concludes, however, it ends on a good note.
God had used nations like Assyria and Babylon (and many others throughout the years) to discipline His people, but He wouldn’t fail to deal with Israel’s enemies as well.
It’s as if God woke up, beat back Israel’s enemies, and continued the work in His people through the southern Kingdom of Judah (hence the Jews). God would take care of His them as He’d always done. The Temple would be built up, His sanctuary (Psalm 78:65-69).
Servant leaders would be raised up…just as He chose and raised up David. I love the way David is described as transitioning from following after sheep, to leading God’s people (Psalm 78:71). When we’re faithful in the little things, God will entrust more into our hands (Luke 16:10; 19:17).
And then when David led, we read:
Psalms 78:72 (NKJV) “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”
Lessons for us as servants and leaders – take note of these two things:
The integrity of our heart – being real and right with God, to the core.
Skillfulness of our hands – cultivate those gifts and talents, work hard at getting better in what you do for the Lord, play skillfully (Psalm 33:3), serve skillfully, let’s do our best…and commit the rest.
Proverbs 24:28 (NKJV) “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, for would you deceive with your lips?”
This is the antithesis to Proverbs 24:26.
This prohibition of bearing false witness is part of the Decalogue (10 Commandments).
Not only are lies the language of Lucifer, but injustice is an abomination to God. All forms of lies and deception are to be put away from God’s people.
Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV) “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”
Proverbs 24:29 (NKJV) “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.’”
There are those who say, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” Some are not ashamed to say it with their lips, and others do so with their hearts. This attitude is completely ungodly!
As followers of Christ, we don’t exchange blow for blow, we don’t go toe to toe, we don’t fight fire with fire. Remember what Jesus said in:
Matthew 5:39–44 (NKJV) “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’”
And then we have Paul’s words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Romans 12:17–19 (NKJV) “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.