Scripture Jeremiah 10:1-5
Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
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.”
- The heavens were thought to reveal the will of the gods (comets, meteors, etc.)
- Description of how an idol is made and then worshiped – how can we worship what we made?
- “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field!” — the idols made and cared for so devotedly are like scarecrows in a field
- 10:5b — they cannot hurt or help (they are impotent)
Hmmmm. The only idols I have seen in my life were on a trip to Singapore when my wife and I visited both a Chinese temple and a Hindu temple. At the Hindu temple we stood outside and watched while a dramatic ritual led up to the moment when a curtain was opened to reveal the deity within before which people then bowed and worshiped.
But when I read Jeremiah’s mocking description of the “scarecrow in a cucumber field” am I as sophisticated as I pretend to be? I may not cut down a tree that I fashion into a statue… but I do make things (careers, achievements, stuff I want or own) that I worship. That have no real power to harm or help me.
My best – my gold and my efforts – are better given to a God who can help (or harm). A God who is not a scarecrow in a cucumber field but the Creator of the Universe, the Redeemer of Humanity, the Spirit of Truth.
O God, my idols are no less real than the ones Jeremiah mocked. I have erected my own scarecrows in the fields of life yet thought they had life, power, meaning. May I worship today by deed and sacrifice you who are worthy of my devotion. And who can help and heal and hold where the idols I make cannot. Amen.