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God and Idols February 25, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 10:1-16.

Summary: In this passage, God speaks through Jeremiah, asserting His superiority over all idols. All idols are utterly helpless and useless. In contrast, He is omnipotent; He alone created the heavens and the earth. Moreover, He alone is sovereign over the weather.

Thoughts: Here, we see that God is superior to all idols. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verses 9 and 10:

The prophet, anticipating what might be said, refers to the splendor and pomp of idols and declares that it is all frivolous and extremely childish. Why did the world show so much honor to idols unless they were dazzled by their pomp? In this way the devil has always deluded the unbelieving. For he has exhibited in idols something that involved people’s minds in darkness.

This passage caused me to ponder the factors that led the people of Judah to worship idols. In some sense, their circumstances are analogous to our situation today. Note that God had appeared in a visible form to their ancestors in the desert, e.g. in a pillar of cloud or fire. As time passed, God ceased to reveal Himself in a visible form to His people; the challenge for the present generation, then, entailed adhering to the traditions that had been handed down to them. They could not perceive God with their senses at that point – as He called them to live by faith. Since humans naturally respond to external stimuli, they drifted away from God – and toward physical objects. Now we live many generations after God appeared in a visible form to His people – in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The challenge for us, then, is to reject external stimuli and maintain our faith in Him. Although we cannot perceive God with our senses at this point, He calls us to adhere to the traditions that have been passed down to us – starting with the Holy Scriptures.

In verses 12 and 13, we see that God alone created the heavens and the earth. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

In other words, “There is one who has created the earth; there is one who has set in order the world and extended the heavens. Since these things cannot be ascribed to many, it follows that it is absurd to imagine that there are various gods.”

Modern-day believers who live in First World countries have witnessed a sweeping rejection of Christianity – and an acceptance of naturalism. In that sense, naturalism can be viewed as a modern-day “god”. It is tempting to succumb to societal trends and worship at the altar of this “god”, e.g. by asserting that science has “proven” that the universe could only have formed ex nihilo. The challenge for us, then, is to wrestle with questions such as:

  • does the Bible contradict fundamental scientific principles?
  • is it possible to reconcile one’s Christian worldview with the scientific literature?
  • how can we see God at work through natural phenomena, e.g. thunder, lightning, wind or rain?
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