Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 10:1-5

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

False Gods and the True God

As the translation heading indicates, some verses from this chapter (which we will read on Thursday and Friday this week) are repeated later on in chapter 51 (which we will read next year).

10 Hear the word that the LORD is speaking to you, house of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says:
Do not learn the ways of the nations
   or be frightened by signs in the heavens,
   although the nations are frightened by them.
3 The rituals of the peoples are worthless.
   They cut down a tree in the forest.
   The hands of a craftsman work it with an axe.
4 They make it look good with silver and gold,
   but they have to fasten it down with hammers
   so that it won’t tip over.
5 They are like a scarecrow in a melon patch.
   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.

Idolatry isn’t always like this. A lot of people think that when they have a comfortable salary or a good hourly wage, a good TV and phone package, some toys for a day off, a new enough car and a big enough house, and a powerful enough computer, that they can be content and not have any worries. They might not think that these things are their god, but their hearts are set on these things. These things are, as Luther said, “the most common idol on earth.” But a lot of people who don’t have these things struggle with the thought that they don’t have them. They don’t look to God as the one who provides what we need, but as the one who is holding things back for some reason. They only think they will be happy if they have more things, even though God may have given them enough.

We must consider the alternative to the things we possess. What if I had more than I do? Would I stop looking to God? Would I be too burdened by the stress and the responsibility of excess? Would my health get worse if I had more wealth or more power? Would I have more frequent sins in the top half of the Ten Commandments? And what if I had less than I do? Would I become angry with God? Would I fall into sins of cheating and stealing and coveting? Would I have more frequent sins in the bottom half of the Ten Commandments?

Idols or money or fame or power or security can’t speak any more than a wooden statue—any more than a scarecrow out in a melon patch or a corn field. But like a statue, the idol of wealth can be removed. It can vanish. And if it does, certainty and trust disappear, too—what does the rich man trust when his riches are gone?

What we want most of all is a right relationship with God. Ask him to make you more certain of that. Reach out to God in prayer that he would deepen your faith and your knowledge of his holy word, and embrace his word. Read it. Think about it. Meditate on it. Pray about it. We want to trust in God above everything, and we want to ask him to give us only the things that we need that will not tempt us to sin. That’s truly what we pray for when we pray for “daily bread.”

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.