“learn not the way of the nations…for the customs of the peoples are vanity. a tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. they decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” Jeremiah 10:1-5
sarcasm can be a powerful thing. these words from the LORD, spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to the exiled nation of Israel, address not only Israel’s biggest mistake and struggle, but ours as well. it is called, idolatry.
in the context of this passage, God is speaking directly to His chosen people regarding their rampant forgetfulness of Him, and their turning to something else to find hope (“behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail,” Jeremiah 7:8), satisfaction (“yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore,” Jeremiah 2:20), and protection (“and now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?” Jeremiah 2:18). Israel gave their glory, praise, and adoration to many of the man-made idols of the surrounding cultures and people they were now a part of, instead of to the One who redeemed them from slavery, protected them in the wilderness, provided their meals, and who brought them “into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things” (Jeremiah 2:7).
so God said they gave their glory to scarecrows (10:5). they worshiped something decorated with gold, but full of hay (10:4). they worshiped something mighty in power, but who required nails and a hammer so that it will not fall down (10:4). they worshiped something crying for help, seeking hope, and asking for counsel, to one who could not speak (10:5). they worshiped something that promised to free their souls and improve their lives, yet were forced to carry it upon their shoulders as a great burden (10:5).
once men lose their awareness of God, they do not thereby lose their need of God, so naturally, they substitute the false worship for the true, resulting in idolatry.
as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we worship no scarecrow. we worship the one who “made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens” (10:12)! all the scarecrow sought on his journey to Oz was a brain… and he is who God compares our idols to. because who or what we worship, is who we ultimately will become. “what wrong did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?” (2:5)
choose your treasure wisely. for where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. and remember, we worship not the one without a brain, but the One who created it.