The Gods Perish and It Is Not in Man

Thus you shall say to them: ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:11).

Man tends to be a worshipping being.  Nearly every culture that has existed on this planet has worshipped something.  Even those which claim not to do so, do so (e.g. nature, state, self). 

In context, some looked to creation for guidance, i.e. astrology (Jeremiah 10:2).  Some created their own gods out of wood and metal (Jeremiah 10:3-5, 8-9, 14-15).  False gods could not save.  Created idols could not even save themselves (Jeremiah 10:11 cf. 10:15).

On the other hand, there is the LORD.  There is none like Him (Jeremiah 10:6).  He is the true God (Jeremiah 10:10).  (1) He made the earth by His power (Jeremiah 10:12).  (2) He established the world by His wisdom (Jeremiah 10:12).  (3) He stretched out the heavens at His discretion (Jeremiah 10:12).  (4) He created the hydrological cycle which man and life on earth depends (Jeremiah 10:13).  The “gods” did not do these things.  He is the true God (Jeremiah 10:10).  He declares, “Before Me there was not God formed, now shall there be after Me” (Isaiah 43:10).  Again, “I am the First and the Last; Besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).  Again, “I am the LORD, Who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself” (Isaiah 44:24).

It is worth nothing that Jeremiah 10:11 was written in Aramaic and not Hebrew (see also Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Daniel 2:4b – 7:28).  Why?  Wayne Jackson comments, “This seems to be an oracle addressed to the Babylonians in the form they could read” (Wayne Jackson, Jeremiah and Lamentations, p. 28).  It seems that He wanted the Babylonians to be able to see this point.

   What is it that we truly worship?  In what do we put our trust?  In what do we turn for guidance?  If our ultimate trust is in anything or anyone other than the LORD, it is misplaced. 

O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:24).

This is not a completely distinct point.  While some look to creation, and others to man-made gods and religious systems, others look to themselves for guidance.

This too is the wrong place to turn.  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “No verse in all the 1,364 penned by Jeremiah in this prophetic product is more familiar than this one.  It should be memorized by all and then never forgotten.  Man is totally void of having the inbred wisdom to chart his own course and plan his own path.  He needs God’s word as a lamp to his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105)” (Robert R. Taylor, Jr., Studies in Jeremiah and Lamentations, Vol. 1, pp. 87-88).  Wayne Jackson comments, “One of the great truths in the book of Jeremiah is that the ‘way of man’ is not within himself. This is a mortal blow to subjectivism.  Man does not have the intellect and spiritual resources to direct his ways” (Wayne Jackson, p. 29).  When every man does what is right in his own eyes, chaos follows (Book of Judges).     Have you considered the implications of man being his own subjective standard of right and wrong?  Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek tell this story.  “The professor, who was teaching a class in ethics, assigned a term paper to his students.  He told his students to write on any ethical topic of their choice, requiring each student only to back up his or her thesis with reason and documentation.  One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of moral relativism.  He argued, ‘All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or righteousness; it’s all a matter of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla,’ and so on… After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the front cover, “F, I don’t like blue folders!’  When the student got his paper back, he was enraged… ‘That’s not fair!  That’s not right!’… The professor calmly retorted, “…Let me see… wasn’t your paper the one that said there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice… Didn’t your paper argue that it’s all a matter of taste?  ‘You like chocolate, I like vanilla?’  The student replied, ‘Yes, that’s my view.’  ‘Fine, then,’ the professor responded.  ‘I don’t like blue.  You get an F!’ Suddenly the lightbulb went on in the student’s head.  He realized that he really did believe in moral absolutes.  He at least believed in justice…  If Moral Law doesn’t exist, then there’s no moral difference between the behavior of Mother Theresa and that of Hitler.  Likewise, statements like, “Murder is evil,’ ‘Racism is wrong,’ or ‘You shouldn’t abuse children’ have no objective meaning.  They’re just someone’s opinion, on par with ‘chocolate tastes better than vanilla.’” (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pp. 173-174, 178-179).

God had earlier pleaded with His people.  He said, “Stand in the way and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.’  But they said, “We will not walk in it.’  Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’  But they said, ‘We will not listen.’” (Jeremiah 6:16-17).

Whose words do we follow?  Who is it that truly directs our steps through life?  If is anyone or anything other than the LORD, it is the wrong voice and wrong guide.  “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). 

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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