Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - Feb 14
- I Love You, Lord
- What a Friend We Have in Jesus
- Up until the early 90’s I was taught that this section of scripture (Jeremiah 9:25—10:16) proved Christmas trees are pagan and that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas.The argument went like this: since Jeremiah is writing about trees that are cut from wood in the forest, and propped up with wood so they don’t fall over, and decorated with gold and silver, he must have been writing about Christmas trees. Christmas trees are therefore idols and anyone who has one in their home is committing idolatry.The only problem with that theory is that Jeremiah is more concerned with our hearts, than he is with actual objects. I suppose if we’re putting literal trust in a tree to save us, treating the tree as if it were some superstitious good luck charm, then I suppose my anti-Christmas friends would have a point.But very few people I know are actually counting on the tree itself, or it’s decorations to bring them good luck or blessing. Instead, it’s just a pretty decoration like a painting on a wall pretty flowers on the table.Instead our modern day idols lie elsewhere and are usually intangible. And that seems to be Jeremiah’s point:“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised—It’s not what is visible that Jeremiah is addressing, but the invisible. It’s what’s on the inside of a person that he is concerned with.Start with “For all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”From God’s point of view, even though his people are physically different on the outside, they aren’t all that different from the world on the inside. And without a change of heart their eternal reward will be no different from theirs. Punishment is on the way.Applied to us, we may be baptised, talk in Christian ways, do Christian things, and yet be also uncircumcised of heart. When we do the right things but for the wrong reasons we are behaving no differently than the world.Doing the right things is preferred of course, but what matters most to God is our heart, the attitude we do those good things with.This is an important topic because it means Israel’s physical circumcision will not, did not, save them from God’s judgment. And, for us, it means the fact of our baptism, our profession of faith, or all the many good things we’ve done, will not save us either.Only our trust in Jesus is what matters and also whether or not our hearts are changed on the inside.So it’s pretty important to think about idols (that scarecrow in a cucumber field) because they are what get in the way of the heart change God’s people are supposed to have.Idols are things we trust in more than we trust in God. Idols are the ultimate reason we do what we do. They are what give us a false confidence that everything is OK when it’s not.Some of our idols are visible but many of them are not. But ultimately, our idols give us no hope. They are worthless yet they have a strange attraction.What is the attraction of idols?The Attraction of IdolsOur society has changed enough since the days of Jeremiah that most of us aren’t tempted to bow down and worship a clay figurine sitting on a shelf or a Christmas tree, or even a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall.We might be impressed by the beauty of the object but usually we recognise it for what it is. We know it’s just a statue, or a painting that doesn’t possess any real power, so we don’t get it when someone literally bows down to some graven image.For us, the problem isn’t that we are prostrating ourselves on the ground worshiping Buddha, it’s that as Jesus says we fail to recognize the “log that is in our own eye” (Luke 6:41-42).And because we fail to see the attraction we fail to recognize our own idols. So what’s the attraction?1. Idols are attractive because of peer pressure.end with “peoples are delusion”Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.Peer pressure is one reason idols are so attractive. Jeremiah calls it “the way of the nations.” Idols are popular and cool. They seem harmless because “everyone else is doing it.”During Jeremiah’s day it was studying “the sings of the heavens” that was popular. And apparently what they saw “terrified” or “made them downhearted.” In other words, they so completely believed what the stars "said” to them it affected their emotions and behavior.That’s what idols do. They become the basis for decisions we make, for how think, and act.In our culture it has become pretty acceptable to check your horoscope each morning to see what kind of day you can expect to have and what kind of decisions you should make.A 2018 survey done by Pew Research found that 29% of Americans believed in Astrology which is no surprise. But what’s shocking is that almost as many Christians, 26%, also believe in the idol of astrology.Jeremiah calls this “delusion” and by that he means it’s vain. It’s like a vapor or a mist that is completely worthless, except in a negative sense as an indication that we’re not trusting completely in Christ.Now if you’re one of the 74% that isn’t swayed by peer pressure to check you horoscope, then good. But remember Jeremiah’s message to us isn’t all about specific, visible idols but about secret idols of the heart. He’s concerned with all kinds of idols that have become the basis for decisions we make and for how we act.Is it the desire to conform to some group or person’s expectations that is controlling you? Do you talk in a crude way to at work or school? When you get around certain friends that are more political do you join in with bashing “the other side”?Unfortunately, peer pressure didn’t end in High School and it is still one of the main reasons for idolatry today. Don’t underestimate it’s power over us.2. Idols are attractive for aesthetic reasons.Let’s be honest, the reason we have shows like “American Idol” is because humans like to admire beautiful people with beautiful voices and talents. Idols are attractive because they are beautiful.The reason the cable news sites hire the most beautiful people, and include all the visual pizazz, is because they know viewers are more likely to tune in longer if they like what they see.In Jeremiah’s day, idols were skillfully adorned with gold and silver and other precious metals. They were genuine works of art and very desirable to look at.So, before we start laughing at the Israelites for bowing down to a blocks of wood, let’s check our own hearts.Let’s think about the attractiveness of just one more tasty desert, or the satisfaction of correcting one more person of the error of their ways, or the temptation to gaze just a little longer at that beautiful TV personality.Beauty isn’t bad and aesthetics aren’t necessarily sinful but they can lead to idolatry when they take a place in our lives that only God should occupy.So don’t underestimate the attractiveness of idols.How Should We Treat Idols?Now, as popular and attractive as idols can be, what should our attitude be toward them? How should we treat the idols of our heart?The biblical answer is “as completely worthless.”In verse 3, the NASB says idols are a “delusion” which we’ve already said means vain or completely worthless.But why are they worthless?1. Idols are man-made.For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter.Idols come from the minds and hands of men. They come from what people dream up, not from what God reveals in his word.They are a delusion because they only offer false hope. It makes about as much sense to put your hope in astrology, in politics, or in another person as it does to put your eternal hope in an statue carved by a skilled, but human craftsman.Secondly, why are idols worthless?2. They are unable to do anything.There’s no power in idols. They don’t think. They can’t reason. They can’t do anything.“Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”Idols can’t save you from sin and death. They can’t do anything so don’t “fear” them. The meaning of the word “fear” is “reverence or awe” as in the kind of awe we should have only for God.Thirdly, why are idols worthless?3. Idols have no life in them.Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are deceitful, And there is no breath in them.Idols can’t move on their own. They can’t breath. There is no life in them. And the harsh truth is that when we put our trust in them we are just as stupid as the idols themselves.Instead of “stupid” the NIV uses the slightly more polite “senseless” but the best translation of the Hebrew is quite accurately, “stupid.” Dumb. Not very bright.Jeremiah’s tone is sarcastic and scornful which shows us how we ought to treat idols. Idols are to be ridicule and made fun of because they are completely worthless. And we are completely stupid if we don’t acknowledge them for what they truly are: man-made, devoid of life, and completely unable to do anything good for us.Is watching TV the best thing you’ll do today? That’s not very bright.Did someone do or say something to you yesterday that you didn’t like and now you’re completely miserable? That’s not very intelligent.Did that ministry leader you looked up to sin and now you’re giving up on Christianity? That’s stupid.To respond with “that’s stupid” is obviously devoid of compassion, but that’s Jeremiah’s point. When it comes to idols of the heart we don’t coddle and nurture them, we acknowledge where they come from, we confess them, and get rid of them.What are idols?An idol is anything that can be substituted for God. It can be a person, an activity, a hero, something we own, a position, a hope, or even an idea.Almost anything can be an idol and that’s why it’s so important to know how to identify them.To identify idols, ask yourself, or someone you trust, things like:What takes the place of God in my life?Where do I find my significance? Do I only feel content when I’m around so-and-so? Am I consumed with negative thoughts about how no one notices me?What things make me angry? Inept people? Having to wait a long time for something? Perhaps my idol is an unbiblical view of where my self-worth comes from. Anger is often a result of an idol being attacked. Do I get really mad when someone disrespects the flag or an individual I admire? If so, perhaps our view of those things or people has become idolatrous.One of the idols that many of us overlook is the idol of “knowledge.” It’s natural for us to think we “know” the truth and to challenge anyone who dares to contradict us."Knowledge” as an idol occurs when we become overly proud of what we know. If someone challenges us do we get angry (externally or internally) because our self-worth is wrapped up in being “right” rather than in what God says about those He loves?Recognize your idols for what they really are. They are worthless. They are like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch and only the most stupid of creatures are impressed by them.Worship God AloneIdols are everywhere but none of them compare to God. We should worship God alone because:1. God is uniqueThere is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is Your name in might.God is one of a kind. He is great. His very name is powerful.Idols are a dime a dozen. They are literally everywhere and that fact alone makes them totally worthless.Something that is rare is unique is worth a lot more than what is commonplace and God is one of a kind. No one is like Him.Why would we worship anything else?Secondly, worship God alone because:2. God is King and all-wiseWho would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.God is the king of all the nations. He is the one we should be in awe of, not some cheap man-inspired imitation trying to pretend to be wise.Thirdly, worship God alone because3. God is the True and Living GodBut the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.God is True and Alive. Idols are false and not even real. Behind all of the gold and silver they have no power.And God alone is the source of life. When he spoke the world came into existence. The scarecrow in the cucumber patch can’t even talk. It can’t even upright itself when it falls over. Why would we want to worship something like that?Maybe we prefer fake gods that can’t talk back to us. Maybe, like Wilson in the movie Cast Away, we like the false sense of security they give us.I don’t know, but idols are fake. The Lord is the true, everlasting God and when he speaks the earth quakes and the nations must submit.Fourthly, worship God alone because:4. God is Creator and SustainerThus you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”God is not man-made. He made us. All idols, whether literal, or in our heads, will perish and God alone will remain.Doesn’t it make more sense to worship the Creator instead of the creation? And yet that’s not what people tend to do. Instead we worship the heavens and the earth and not the one who made the heavens and the earth.It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.Worship God not only because He created the world, but because he sustains it.When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses.Worship God alone because God is unique. He is the all-wise king. He is the true and living God. God is your creator and sustainer. He even now is controlling the clouds, the snow, and the wind.God’s Portion, Your PortionAfter hearing about how awesome God is, and how worthy of worship He is, we might be tempted to think that God is unapproachable. God sounds dangerous, right? And He is, but nevertheless he invites us to come near to Him.The portion of Jacob is not like these; For the Maker of all is He, And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; The Lord of hosts is His name.The portion, the inheritance, of God’s people isn’t all of the worthless idols, it is God himself.By grace, we receive God, himself, as our unearned reward.If you have God as your portion, what else do you need? In Lamentations 3:24 Jeremiah writes “The Lord is my portion…therefore I have hope in Him.”But God, the Maker of all things, also has an inheritance so to speak. “The tribe of His inheritance” are those that have a changed heart, they are God’s special people that he will eternally call his own.So, God belongs to us, in an intimate relationship, but even more importantly we belong to God.1 Peter 2:9 says of the church,But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;So it is foolish to get our ultimate hope from the equivalent of a scarecrow in a cucumber field. What kind of relationship can you have with some old ratty clothes stuffed with straw? Not much. Sane people don’t carry on conversations with inanimate objects, nor do they put their ultimate hope and trust in anything less than God, himself.Put your trust in Jesus Christ. He is our portion and inheritance. Nothing else can compare.
1 Peter 2:9KJV1900
- How Great Thou Art
Let us get to know you!
Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
How did you hear about us?