[Optional longer reading: Jer. 8:4–10:25]
Our key verse today speaks of the folly of refusing correction. The first part of today’s reading echoes this same idea as God described the stiff-necked behavior of Israel. They "refuse to return" (8:5) and "none of them repent of their wickedness" (8:6). In fact, they show no remorse or hesitation about sin at all. Even the birds have enough sense to know when to migrate, but the people of Judah lack all knowledge of God.
The scribes of the law and the leaders of Israel claimed wisdom, but God revealed their folly. Where things were serious, Israel’s leaders treated the matter lightly. Where there was coming judgment, their false prophets proclaimed peace. God’s opinion was clear: "Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?" (8:9). True wisdom means knowing God’s word and following it.
The second part of today’s reading focuses on the sin of idolatry. The contrast between idols and God is clear. In a very real sense, there is an absurdity about idolatry. Idols are inanimate objects, carved from wood or stone, adorned by craftsmen, and carried about. Not only can they not speak or walk, they are utterly useless: "they can do no harm, nor can they do any good" (10:5).
The Lord, on the other hand, as the only true God, is uniquely superior. No one is like Him. He is "mighty in power" (10:6), the "living God, the eternal King" (10:10). And unlike the worthless idols, He is the creator and Lord of all things. The worship of idols, then, is not only sinful, but absurd. And yet, Israel persisted in their sin.
Apply the Word
We might laugh at Jeremiah’s depiction of idols until we recognize that modern-day idolatry is alive and well. Our idols may include Hollywood’s ideas about beauty, time wasted on the Internet, our job, or anything that turns us from God. What things in your life might be idols? Confess, and ask God to become the center of your attention again.