Because the people of Judah had persistently refused to walk in God’s ways and had rejected His instructions (Jeremiah 11:10), Jeremiah warned that God would bring a nation from afar to punish them for their idolatrous unfaithfulness (1:14–15; 5:15; 6:22; 25:9). They would also be exiled to Babylon for seventy years (25:11). Jeremiah witnessed the deportations of the Israelites to Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (52:1–34). Judah’s idolatrous unfaithfulness was chronically deep-rooted. “From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today,” God said, “they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts” (11:7–8). Jeremiah called them to turn away from their idols and to worship Yahweh as their one and only true Creator God and King (10:1–11), warning that their dependence on their many gods would be punished (11:12–13).
Sam checks his retirement account twice each day. He saved for thirty years, and with the boost of a rising stock market, finally has enough to retire. As long as stocks don’t plunge. This fear keeps Sam worrying about his balance.
Jeremiah warned about this: “You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem” (11:13).
Judah’s idolatry is remarkable. They knew the Lord was God. How could they worship anyone else? They were hedging their bets. They needed the Lord for the afterlife, because only the true God could raise them from the dead. But what about now? Pagan gods promised health, wealth, and fertility, so why not pray to them too, just in case?
Can you see how Judah’s idolatry is also our temptation? It’s good to have talent, education, and money. But if we’re not careful, we might shift our confidence to them. We know we’ll need God when we die, and we’ll ask Him to bless us now. But we’ll also lean on these lesser gods, just in case.
Where is your trust? Back-up idols are still idols. Thank God for His many gifts, and tell Him you’re not relying on any of them. Your faith is riding entirely on Him.
Reflect & Pray
What good thing are you tempted to turn into an idol? How might you use this gift while still depending fully on God?
Father, all my hope is in You. Help me trust in You alone, not in my abilities and assets.