Imagine an inexperienced alpine tamper, no knowledge of the area. There is a track, markers in knee deep snow, experienced friends. No worries, enjoyable, as long as they stick to the track and listen to the experts.
But oddly, stupid 30 minutes into a 3 day tramp, you veer off. Create your direction, your own path. You deny the track, the makers, the experts. You end up getting lost, you fall, you're exhausted. The weather closes in. Sub zero temperatures. But you carry on because it’s “our path, our way” and we just convince ourselves that this is adventurous and a challenge. But you're getting into difficulty.
It is not in me to be a self-navigator, to look to myself, to look within. This is a common message in Jeremiah.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. NLT
Our lives are not our own, we are not able to plan our own course.
Who directs my life?
Who determines the way I live?
God or a mix of me and the world?
We don’t know how to live life. We don't have the capacity, the ability to make life work. Collectively, or as individuals, we are not in a position to direct our own lives. By design we are built to depend on Someone! It's a principle of being human (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 23). We’re doing the walking, but not the directing in the same way the track directs our steps on the alpine tramp.
Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
There are many roads. Some ancient, some no good, some bad. Some modern and progressive for life and well-being but they are vanity and lost.
Many of us are busy striving, but never arriving. Restless without God, exhausted disheartened trying to make life work, find our way in life, forge a path for us- but it’s not in us, not our capacity, not our design.
But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
Rest for your souls, go well with you... we just don't believe it. We don't follow the ancient paths, rather our way. We look to ourselves. The path of life is not in us, it is not found looking within. We are created to walk life with God directing, guiding , resourcing, enabling us. We desire to find rest for your souls, but we will not walk the way of God.
Way of God or way of the world?
God vs idols?
True living everlasting God vs fake, lifeless, perishing idols?
God who made (along with all heaven and earth) vs man-made gods?
Jeremiah 10: 1-5, 8-9, 11, 14-15
Learn not the way of the nations- don’t journey along the path the world has - asphalt, smooth, pretty scenery.
The way of the world is characterised by...
The end point: Vanity, mist, vapour. A hardworking, skillful craftsman who denies the glory of God, in the end it’s all futile. Ecclesiastes says everything is meaningless. everything under the sun. The tragedy is that skilled, gifted people denying God and all their efforts is mist. They have no hope, no purpose. The way of the world is vanity because it clings to false, lifeless, perishing idols of their own making.
Idols are false/ fake: They present a false hope, a false way to live, a false trust.
Idols are lifeless: They have to be carried, secured by us so they don’t topple. They are like an inanimate object in a field. “His images are false and there is no breath, no life in them” If we want to really live then it is not found in idols. The stupidity of clinging to lifeless ineffectual idols. Stupid shepherds who do not inquire of the Lord and therefore do not prosper, the flock is scattered, and disorder. Versus God who's is an expert on life.
Perishing Destined for wrath: We are not to follow the world’s way, because the world cannot endure His anger and indignation. They are false, fake, lifeless and perishing gods.
"Asking creation to do what ONLY the Creator can do and they don’t know it” Tripp
Idolatry is “making a good thing an ultimate thing.” I must have this. if I lost this it’d be the end of me.
“The most basic question which God continually poses to each human heart. Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight?” Powlison.
What do I worry about most?
What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult? What do I do to feel better?
What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
What do I lead with in conversations? Always talking about? What do I want people to know about
What unanswered prayer would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
What is my hope for the future?
The way of the nations is make our own track in life clinging to false, lifeless, perishing idols.
10:6-7, 10, 12-13
Way of God, Ancient path, good way- walk in it.
In contrast to awful idols - V10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God and the everlasting King. There is no competition.
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 due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.
If we are bent towards created things, this is what must be restored if we are to walk in God’s way, our awe of God.
What takes our breath away?
What makes go wow that is amazing?
It is to be the awe of God!
V7 Who would not fear you?
You are so great and mighty and wise overall, who would not be in awe of you! Our God is an awesome God, He reigns.
Are these just Words?
Are these just once held beliefs?
How great do we believe our God is?
Awe displaces apathy. Awe displaces idols. The awe of God gets us back on track and staying to the track. The awe of God fuels our worship of God, leads to consistent obedience. Our heart is filled with an affection for God. He is so great.
We must allow God’s magnificence, beauty, and glory to fill our hearts and minds.
Enchanted, captivated, enraptured vs bored by God, bored with God.
The lost awe of God sees us just doing stuff, Christian stuff. But it is still a awe of God.
V12-13 Awesome God!!
Who would not fear you, be in awe of you...For this is your due, God deserves our awe!
We are so focused on human rights violations - age , gender, ethnicity , socioeconomic.
The person who has been his denied rights the most is God!
He deserves everyone of us to be in awe of him, to be singly devoted to Him, worshipping only Him.
There is none like you, twice emphasizes this. He is glorious, “my glory I give to no other” no one else with the credentials, with the value and worth. Not worthless idols, to share it with. We put it on trade me.
V24 Correct me!
Correct my wanderings off path, correct my own bushwacking adventures. Not in your anger but in justice.
How does God deal with us in justice but not be consumed by his wrath?
How is the wrath of God poured out towards me, in his right judgment of my sin, in his turning away from me, diverted away from me. Look outside of ourselves. Way is not in us.
11:4 Listen to my voice, do all that I command, so you shall be my people and I will be your God
11:7-8 Obey my voice
That is my problem I don’t obey. But someone did. Look outside of ourselves.
Jesus lived his life in total obedience. The only person in all of humanity who obeyed, who did all that God commanded.
Adam, one tree just one tree. Moses, just speak to the rock. David, Bathsheba has a husband.
God asks, will anyone obey my voice?
We sing about the cross and the suffering and dying in our place. But all of that has no effect, its vanity and mist if Jesus was not obedient in his life. Obey my voice...and Jesus did.
People sought to kill Jeremiah. They didn’t like his message, being told they are wrong and way off track. He received death threats from his village folk.
But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
Jesus was led on a journey, led on a road via Dolorosa. Led up a track to his slaughter on the cross at calvary. Cut off from the land of the living. Fully obedient.
Jesus, who would not be in awe of you? Who would not submit to the path you have laid out for us, knowing the path you walked to the cross for us. Who would not trash the idols, and be captivated by that love, love of Jesus Christ crucified.
The Gospel says, “God accepts you just as Christ is.”
Beloved children keep yourselves from idols.