The Way of a Man

Jeremiah 10:1–25 (NKJV)

10:1 Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel.

Thus says the Lord:

“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;

Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,

For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.

3 For the customs of the peoples are futile;

For one cuts a tree from the forest,

The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.

4 They decorate it with silver and gold;

They fasten it with nails and hammers

So that it will not topple.

5 They are upright, like a palm tree,

And they cannot speak;

They must be carried,

Because they cannot go by themselves.

Do not be afraid of them,

For they cannot do evil,

Nor can they do any good.”

Jeremiah reveals the Lord’s opinion about idols.  The Gentiles were idolators, and cut down trees in order to fashion idols from them, decorating them and worshipping them.  God says that they are futile, having no power of evil or good.  Don’t pick up bad habits and empty practices.  Follow the one true God!

6 Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord

(You are great, and Your name is great in might),

7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?

For this is Your rightful due.

For among all the wise men of the nations,

And in all their kingdoms,

There is none like You.

8 But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish;

A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.

9 Silver is beaten into plates;

It is brought from Tarshish,

And gold from Uphaz,

The work of the craftsman

And of the hands of the metalsmith;

Blue and purple are their clothing;

They are all the work of skillful men.

10 But the Lord is the true God;

He is the living God and the everlasting King.

At His wrath the earth will tremble,

And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.

11 Thus you shall say to them: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”

12 He has made the earth by His power,

He has established the world by His wisdom,

And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

13 When He utters His voice,

There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:

“And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth.

He makes lightning for the rain,

He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”

14 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;

Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image;

For his molded image is falsehood,

And there is no breath in them.

15 They are futile, a work of errors;

In the time of their punishment they shall perish.

16 The Portion of Jacob is not like them,

For He is the Maker of all things,

And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance;

The Lord of hosts is His name.

Jeremiah continues to extol the greatness of God, the One, True God of all Creation.  While wood, gold, and silver are brought from merchants and forests, the one true God created them all.  He brings the rain and is an everlasting, eternal being, with no beginning and no end.  The idols of man shall end and will do nothing until then.  The Portion of Jacob is not like them, but is Creator and God, The Lord of Hosts.

17 Gather up your wares from the land,

O inhabitant of the fortress!

18 For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will throw out at this time

The inhabitants of the land,

And will distress them,

That they may find it so.”

19 Woe is me for my hurt!

My wound is severe.

But I say, “Truly this is an infirmity,

And I must bear it.”

20 My tent is plundered,

And all my cords are broken;

My children have gone from me,

And they are no more.

There is no one to pitch my tent anymore,

Or set up my curtains.

21 For the shepherds have become dull-hearted,

And have not sought the Lord;

Therefore they shall not prosper,

And all their flocks shall be scattered.

22 Behold, the noise of the report has come,

And a great commotion out of the north country,

To make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals.

23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;

It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

24 O Lord, correct me, but with justice;

Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.

25 Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You,

And on the families who do not call on Your name;

For they have eaten up Jacob,

Devoured him and consumed him,

And made his dwelling place desolate.

This final passage of lament speaks of the trouble that will come upon Israel when the Gentiles overrun their land.  The Gentiles will make Judah desolate and will injure and kill its inhabitants.  Their tents will be destroyed, and their children will be gone.  What a sad and distressing scene!  Jeremiah, speaking for himself and his people, asks God in v. 23 and 24 to direct them and to help them.  They do not know where to go or what to do.  But they know He is their source.  Even in their rebellion and shame, they ask for God to deliver them from this punishment for their sins.  The way of a man may not be evident to that man, but that man can know the God who will prepare the way and lead them in the way.  Get in the way, the right way!

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