Summary: This sermon looks at the biggest subject in Jeremiah: idolatry.
Talking About It Again And Again And Again: The biggest subject in Jeremiah is that God’s people had wandered off after idols.
- Jeremiah 2:5, 11, 13.
- v. 5, 11 – Following worthless idols.
- Back in Israel’s day the idols were usually literal idols. Figures of wood or clay formed into the image of a “deity” that they would worship.
- I think we have idols today – they just don’t tend to be blocks of wood that we bow down to.
- They’re more likely to be technologically advanced and pricey, but at the end of the day anything that we make as the focus of our love and life could be called an idol for us.
- What’s the big deal with idolatry?
- The two analogies that God most often uses in the Old Testament to express His relationship with Israel are parent-child and husband-wife.
- That moves idolatry out of the realm of a ruined business relationship and over into something personal.
- God is “emotionally invested” in this drama. God loves us like a child or a spouse.
- That means that our idolatry feels like a divorce to Him. It feels like a prodigal child. That’s why it’s such a big deal and provokes so strong a reaction from Him.
- v. 13 – It’s comprised of two sins:
a. Forsaking the spring of living water.
- God is the real deal. He’s the One through whom living water flow. That means He has what will satisfy our souls and quench our spiritual thirst.
b. Making your own cisterns.
- “Cistern” is a word we don’t use much in America. A cistern is a waterproof container designed to hold water or a dug-out area designed to hold rain (like a small water-holding reservoir).
- The interesting and sad thing about what God is saying here is (a) that they’ve deliberately walked away from a place that was gushing forth (it’s a spring) with good, clean water, and (b) that they’re using cisterns in its place, which have no perpetual source of water. Even worse, those cisterns aren’t even waterproof to adequately hold water.
- When you look at what they’ve given up and what they’ve replaced it with, it’s a fool’s bargain.
- The amazing thing in Jeremiah is that this subject is brought up in 45 or the 52 chapters. And those aren’t incidental mentions – often idolatry is the main subject of the entire chapter.
- Again and again, God complains that Israel has wandered off into idolatry. Again and again, God threatens them with punishment. Again and again, God wonders why they have walked away from Him after all He’s done for them.
- You can tell a lot about a person by the subjects that keep coming up in conversation with them. I knew an older woman once where the conversation always came back around to how attractive she’d been when she was younger. From that, I knew what she really valued. Around our house, there’s lots of talk about the NFL, so you know we love our football.
- This is the subject that God keeps bringing up, so it tells us a lot about His heart. He is deeply bothered by Israel’s pursuit of other gods.
- Given what we just said about living waters and broken and cisterns, a major question that we need to answer is why would Israel be so quick and persistent in pursuing idols?
Why Make That Trade? We want to have comfort and control without conviction.
- Most folks want God in their lives, or at least some version of Him.
- There’s a reason that every culture has shared a belief in God. There’s a reason why even people who haven’t darkened the door of a church in decades will still usually claim some form of belief in God.
- We want some kind of God in our lives because there are big issues that are beyond us. We need to deal with issues like:
a. How do I deal with problems that are bigger than I am?
b. What do I think about life after death?
c. Is there ultimately someone in charge of this universe?
- Because of those and many other reasons we are reluctant to just forsake the idea of God even if we may not like what the God of the Bible requires of us.
- So it’s an easy slide over to a God that gives us what we want without demanding what we don’t want to give.
What do we want? Comfort and control.
- We get comfort from believing that there is a God out there who can help us.
- We get comfort from believing that there is a God out there who is watching out for us.