God and Idols (Jeremiah 10:1 – 16)

jeremiah

Scripture Text:

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Jeremiah 10:1 – 16

1. In choosing your Christmas tree, do you prefer it natural or artificial? Large or small? Big needle or small needle?

2. In adorning your tree, do you prefer lots of bulbs and glitter? Only natural, handmade items? Only lights?

3. Describe one of your favorite ornaments that gets hung on your Christmas tree every year, or the special one you made or received last year.

4. The word “nations” is from the Hebrew “Goyim”, meaning “Gentiles” or non-Jews. From what two Gentile customs does God discourage Israel (verses 2 and 3)? What feeling lies beneath these words about idols (verses 4 and 5)?

5. If idols are so impotent and worthless (see also Psalm 115:4 – 7), why do you think God’s people constantly turn to them? Did idol worship play a part in the social and economic fabric of Palestine (verse 9; see also Acts 19:23 – 27)?

6. How was the Jewish concept of God different from that of the pagans (verses 10 – 13)? How easy would it be to combine the monotheism of Israel with worship of local cultic deities? Who ultimately is mocked by this attempt?

7. The words “portion” and “inheritance” are equated in verse 16. What does it mean that Israel’s inheritance is God? That God’s portion is Israel?

8. Jeremiah 10 has been used to condemn the tradition of making Christmas trees. Using this passage, can you support that idea? How do you know Jeremiah is talking about something else? (In the next post – Wednesday, December 23 – I will talk further about Jeremiah chapter 10 and Christmas trees.)

9. Idolatry has always been big business. Can you think of any modern industries that depend upon our homage? To what images must we bow in order to participate in the social and economic system around us?

10. What kind of things do people idolize today – things that they are counting on to speak to them, carry them or do good for them, as only God can?

11. How much time do you take to meditate on God’s creation and power? What aspects of nature speaks most clearly to you of God’s power?

12. In what sense might verse 5 apply to you: Is there anything you fear that you need not? Do your work or your purchases “do good” for others? Is there a better way you could spend your prime waking hours and disposable income?

Special Note:

Merry Christmas everyone! Within the next post (Wednesday December 23), I will share a short lesson about Jeremiah 10 and Christmas trees. On Christmas Day (Friday), we will resume our study with Jeremiah 10:17 – 25.

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