“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
so the people of Israel are disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials,
their priests and their prophets.
They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’
and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me
and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
‘Come and save us!’
Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them come if they can save you
when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
as you have towns.
- Jeremiah 2:26-28
The verses are typical of the prophecies of God through Jeremiah’s lips and writings. God instructed Jeremiah to forget repentance at this point. It was too late. God was going to bring the Chaldeans to teach Judah a lesson, unless … and until …
Then there would be a time for repentance.
Each time, the king would gather his cronies, who called themselves prophets. Each time, the cronies would fill the king with ideas that Judah was the chosen people and nothing would happen. The cronies were not speaking from God, but God had placed the words into Jeremiah’s mouth, Jeremiah 1:9. The only problem is that God spoke to Jeremiah. There is no record whether God spoke to the king. At first, the king was Zedekiah, son of Josiah. King Josiah had called for the scriptures to be read after they were discovered (2 Kings 22). (Does that sound like a house you have visited? They have a Bible, but the layer of dust reveals that it hasn’t been read in a long time.) Josiah was a good king, for the most part. His son, Zedekiah, was typical of many entitled people today. No one can tell them what to do. If they need advice, they have their cronies, who are just as entitled and self-absorbed.
The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful. (Proverbs 12:5) The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15) Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (good advice, that is). (Proverbs 13:10) Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Proverbs 19:20) Yet, who provides the advice is important as well.
My parents hated that I was negative, but I got my negativity through them. They probably didn’t realize how negative they were. Their dreams of having a large turkey farm, a huge processing plant with rail access, and a recognized store brand all died when they lost everything when I was in the second and third grades. My brother and sister were in college when my parents began to sour.
No one wants to hear bad news. The natural reaction is to hear only good news, but those who have God in their hearts want to hear the bad news, also. It may be painful, but we have a burning desire to improve. It is only through the power of God in us to form that improvement, but we must desire it.
In the selected scripture, God is telling the people of Judah that He has been forgotten. Judah has as many gods as they have towns. Matthew Henry says that this was due to each town deciding what god was the important god for them. The neighboring towns would disagree. Thus each town basically had a town god.
One area of house cleaning in our lives is to find our idols that we worship and eliminate them. When I was two-years-old, we moved to the turkey farm. To celebrate, my parents bought the first family TV. We were on a hill, but we could only get two of the Memphis, TN channels consistently. Channel 13 was iffy, depending upon the weather. In time, Columbus, MS and Tupelo, MS got TV stations.
My first idol was TV. My parents took advantage of that. I could be glued to the TV all day, and they could ignore me while they worked on the farm. Warning. If I got bored, I had the precociousness to take care of myself. I once cooked a wonderful breakfast, but forgot the hot pads (or oven mitts) when taking the dish out of the oven. I ran, screaming, to the processing plant with two burned hands. I was three years old.
I have mentioned the sports stars that I idolized in a previous post. Watching sports in general, on TV, has always been a problem for me. I could never get enough.
Until I started this blog…
You may have to take away my American card and my Man card, but I am distressed with the demonstrating millionaire ballplayers and the media that promotes and applauds civil disruption. (I’m stopping short of civil disobedience. Is there a law that says we have to stand for the anthem? Or is it established courtesy? Is there any courtesy left in this world? I’m not going to be guilty of being a modern Pharisee here.) As a result, God has been calling me to the basement to write another essay. I can always catch the scores later. And I don’t have a job to go to. Therefore, I never have to hear the question, “Did you catch that play last night?”
Really, your idol is the answer to this question. “If you were forced to move to a mountain cabin, far from the nearest cell phone signal, TV transmission, internet, electrical power, indoor plumbing, etc., what would you miss the most? Then, second most?
For me, it’s indoor plumbing. I know that indoor plumbing is not necessary, because I’ve visited relatives in my youth who had outhouses and a well. But, still…
What can you not live without? A little reminder… Whatever the answer is, unless the answer is Jesus, it probably won’t be in heaven, but what we will have will be better.