Lately, I (Erick) have been feeling like I never know what to read in the Bible. Maybe you’ve experienced this before. It’s as if you just got done reading something amazing (in my case, Acts and then I was finishing “Leadership as an Identity” by Crawford Loritts), and now you’re feeling like, “what’s next?”
Well, the Lord led me to the book of Jeremiah.
I’ve always thought I’ve had a good handle on Jeremiah’s most well-known passage – Jeremiah 29:11. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'”
To be honest, apart from this verse, I haven’t spent a lot of time meditating and learning the rest of the book. As I continue to work my way through Jeremiah, I’m continually drawn back to themes around idols, breaking covenants and a lack of faith. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve felt pretty bummed-out as I’ve read. These aren’t “feel good” topics.
But the more I read, the more I discover how God is conveying His deep heart and message to all of His people through Jeremiah the person, as well as the general people of Israel. It’s like when you have a really tough conversation with your parents (or your kids … if you’re a parent) about something you did that went against what they told you or wanted for you. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes tense, convicting, etc. as you’re going through the process, but in the end, and maybe even years later, you see the healing and strength it gave you. You’re a better individual because of the experience.
The passage I really wanted to share is from Jeremiah 10:8, 10 & 11. It is God talking to Jeremiah about those who create idols and worship them instead of God.
“They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! … 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. Thus shall you say to them: ‘the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.'”
What a just and holy God we have!
After reading this passage I was reminded of the book “Counterfeit Gods” by Tim Keller.
Keller describes an “idol” as being, “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second though.”
As I read this paragraph I let the words sink in. And even as I re-read it now, I am reminded of the small things in my life that seem to become bigger and bigger and eclipse God even if for a moment. Allowing idols into our lives is always going to be a temptation, but we must remember that God is stronger than our temptations. He is bigger than anything we could possibly try to make bigger and He is worthy of our entire focus and praise.
Take a few moments after you read this and remind yourself to put God first in your life. Resist and fight that temptation to think that anything else might be more important, because it isn’t.