What does it say?
Jeremiah’s tenth chapter is a direct challenge from God to those who fear idols. No matter how elaborate they may be made, idols are still made by human hands. To fear them and not fear Almighty God is ridiculous … and dangerous.
Chapter 11 reminds the people that God’s covenant made with them on Mount Sinai is still very much in force, but they have broken it consistently by their disobedience and are therefore under the curse. The last part of the chapter tells of a plot against Jeremiah’s life (11:18-23). His prophetic messages have so angered people that the men of his own city of Anathoth are conspiring to kill him. This causes Jeremiah to question God about why wicked people seem to get away with evil (Jer 12).
As many prophets did, Jeremiah acts out a parable. He takes an unwashed linen girdle (sash) and then hides in the ground by the Euphrates after wearing it a good while. When he returns a time later it is worthless, just as God says his people have become for him. The remainder of the chapter is a thundering rebuke and warning to God’s people.
What does it mean?
The Jews of Judah and Jerusalem are thoroughly entrenched in idolatry, though they would claim that they faithful to Jehovah God. They’ve added to their faith idolatry, spiritual adultery and evil. Peter gives clear instruction in 2Peter 1 about what we should be adding to our faith, things that bear no comparison to Israel’s current state in Jeremiah’s day. We all should examine our lives from time to time to see if we are likewise guilty of adding things to our faith that actually weaken and destroy our faith.
Seeing Jeremiah’s living parable is a great reminder that God uses many forms of communication to get his word across. We are sometimes tempted to relax and become confident in the fact that we now have the complete Bible in our hands. We forget that a large percentage of the world’s population cannot read or write and even if they could no Bible exists in their language. We are in danger of missing an entire generation of youth whose learning style is oral and visual. How can take advantage of the multitude of mediums today to communicate God’s words?
How will I respond?
Reflecting on this passage, I wonder how many people around me are waiting to “see” something in my life before they are willing to listen to God’s words? How can I better teach by the way I live? What communication means do I have available to reach those around me?