Idols and Repentance

Last Sunday, I preached on Jeremiah 10:6-10. This passage provides a wonderful reminder of God’s greatness. It also points out the sheer stupidity of following anything or anyone besides Him. These verses form a song of praise that welled up in Jeremiah as he reflected on God’s message and actions. The powerlessness and literal stupidity of idols made Jeremiah praise the greatness of God. God’s ability to work His will among His people despite their utter lack of repentance compelled Jeremiah to praise His sovereignty.

The verse that most strikes a chord with me is verse 10,

10 But 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.

In contrast to the lifeless idols, God is living. More than that He gives life. He is also King over all creation and will never stop being so. Judah needed to remember this. As her people strove to control their own destiny and tried to avert the impending crisis of a Babylonian invasion, God had other plans for them that no one could thwart. These plans included total defeat and exile of their people. God poured out on Judah both His wrath for their failure to repent and His grace to preserve those who heeded His warning and trusted Him.

This verse captivates me in part because I have been reading the book during my devotional time. As a result, I followed the story from God’s condemnation of Judah for their idolatry to the fulfillment of His warnings of conquest by the Babylonians. I saw the stubbornness of the people of Judah and her leaders and their refusal to let go of their idols and self-sufficiency. I read about their total unwillingness to repent no matter what God said to them. I observed them doing the opposite what God, through Jeremiah, told them to do. When God says “surrender”, they fight. When God says, “Don’t flee to Egypt,” they flee to Egypt. When God says, “stop worshipping idols” they insist on keeping their vows to “the queen of heaven.” I just want to shout at them, “LOOK AT WHAT GOD HAS DONE. LOOK AT WHAT GOD IS DOING. YOU ARE FACING OBLITERATION AND YOU JUST DON’T GIVE UP YOUR SIN. REPENT AND LIVE!”

And then God causes me to examine myself. What about the things that I hold on to and refuse to repent of? What about the actions and attitudes of my heart that I stubbornly cling to but God has told me to let go of time after time? What about the things I absolutely refuse to do for Him and His kingdom due to my stubborn nature? Maybe God is also shouting at me, “REPENT AND LIVE!”