“Learn not the way of the nations” (Jeremiah 10:2). The people of God are to be different in this time of crisis.
Here is a video mediation on Jeremiah 10. Summary notes are below.
Some thoughts from Jeremiah 10
How does the church’s response to the coronavirus crisis compare to the world around. God says to Judah, “Learn not the way of the nations” (v2). Let’s pray today that the church of Jesus Christ would shine brightly in the darkness – that we don’t learn the way of the nations, but that we display Christ to the nations.
I) What the nations trust and fear has no power (v1-5)
God’s starts by looking at the things that the nations around trust and the things that they fear. V2: “Learn not the way… nor be dismayed.”
Today, most idolatry is not about worshipping statues, but it is putting our ultimate (or greatest) trust in something or someone that should not have our ultimate trust, or ultimate fear that is not worthy of ultimate fear.
For example, we are right to be concerned about coronavirus in a limited way but not in an ultimate or final way. Concerned, yes, but not to have such fear that it controls us, because coronavirus does not have the power over life and death; only the Lord does. In the same way, when it comes to trust. It is right in part to trust the medical people who take care of us. But life and death is in the hands of the Lord. So, whatever we go through, our final trust needs to be in Him.
II) There is no-one like the Lord (v6-16)
This section expands further, but it moves more to the positive: not only are idols useless, there is none like the Lord:
- He is great (v6).
- His name is great in power (v6)
- He is worthy of our fear (v7)
- He is king of the nations (v7) – no other god is like Him.
- He is the true God (v10)
- He is the living God (v10)
- He is the everlasting King (v10)
- He reveals His wrath against sin; none can stand against Him (v10)
- He made heaven and earth; false gods shall perish (v11)
- He made the earth by His power (v12)
- He established it by His wisdom (v12)
- He sustains all things and is in charge even of the weather (v13)
- He is the inheritance of His people (v16).
The final statement in verse 16 is truly amazing. It shows what He is to His people. All other gods are things that people trust in order to get something. For example, people trust wealth to get them happiness. But the Lord God Almighty doesn’t simply provide for us, but He gives us Himself. The final destiny is glory is God Himself. It is the glorious presence of the Lord God Almighty who will saturate our souls with total blessedness.
III) But His people need to wake up to their condition (v17-18)
These two verses come as a shock and challenge. He says to them, “Pack your bags! Get ready for exile!”
You can imagine the people, “What!! You’ve just been talking to us about the nations and we agree with You.” But the Lord’s response: “You are guilty, too!” He is revealing the idolatry in the hearts of His people.
This speaks to us today. We have prayed that God would use the crisis of this virus to awaken the nations. But we need to awaken!
So we need to pray for this. We need to pray that the church of Jesus Christ would emerge from this crisis strong, not in ourselves, but in Him. We need to pray that we would emerge as a people who live righteous lives, who love justice, a people of love and compassion, a people who are passionate for His glory and delight to please Him.
IV) Battling with God’s purposes (v19-25)
These final verses are Jeremiah’s very human response to what God has just said. He faces the reality that, even though he is God’s prophet, the purposes of God to awaken His people will also affect him.
He also grieves for God’s people. He complains about the leaders of Judah (v21). He even asks God to judge the nations (v25). This shows us that struggling with God’s purposes is normal and, when we struggle, we can pour out to the Lord what is really going on in our hearts.
The book of Jeremiah records his questions about God’s ways more than once, but he has to learn that God’s purposes are greater than his preferences. Even when we don’t understand God’s ways, He is working out His purpose perfectly in His righteousness.
As we pray, we can be confident along with Abraham in Genesis 18:25, “The judge of all the earth will do right.” May the Lord teach us His ways and help us to trust Him completely.
Suggestions for prayer
1) Praise God for who He is
2) Pray for the Lord to awaken His church
Start with me! When we pray for the church, it is easy to pray just for others, but all prayer for God to revive His church needs to start with “Lord, revive me! Soften my heart! Take away the love of sinning! Change me more into the likeness of Jesus.”
3) Praying into the situation around the world
These prayer suggestions come from Christianity Today at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-coronavirus-20-prayers-to-pray-during-pandemic.html