“Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!” (Jeremiah 2:11, NLT)
Jeremiah was a prophet with whom God shared His grief and sorrow. Like God, Jeremiah is angered over Israel’s sin, yet brokenhearted over the judgment that awaits them. Jeremiah loves his people, Israel. Yet he is sickened by their gross idolatry.
For God and for Jeremiah, idolatry is a tragic case of misplaced love and devotion. Israel keeps attributing to its idols—mere pieces of wood and stone—supernatural powers and awesome deeds. They shower idols with praise and adoration. Yet, at the same time, Israel ignores the living God who loves them and whose heart aches for them. “To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother’” (Jeremiah 2:27, NLT). Yet they turn their backs on God.
Such faithlessness doesn’t even exist among the Gentiles, God says. He tells Israel to search from one end of Earth to the other and inquire. “Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones—even though they aren’t even real gods?” No. In Israel, phony gods get more devotion and love than the true and living God.
To add to this tragedy of misplaced love and devotion, not only are the idols incapable of knowing and appreciating that love. They are equally powerless to help the worshipper. And all the while, they wound the heart of the true and living God who loves them. Using their own imagery, God tells them, “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me–the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all” (Jeremiah 2:13, NLT).
Love in the Wrong Things
Yet never has misplaced love and devotion been as rampant as it is today. We squander our love on pets but toss away our children. We crusade for animal rights but snuff out the voice of unborn children. And we attribute personality, feelings, and worth to toys, kitchen appliances, and cars–but show nothing but contempt for people who are starving for just a little love and respect. We also make celebrities out of the most shallow, self-absorbed, and richest members of society–but ignore those who risk their lives to protect us. And we ascribe creative powers to a mindless process that only exists in our heads (evolution), and dismiss the infinite mind, heart, and power Who produced the universe and everything in it.
Yes, we are certifiably insane—as well as perverse and twisted.
But God can restore our sanity, as well as our sense of decency. God still loves us and yearns to reconcile us to Himself. If we turn to Him for whom we’ve been created, our minds and hearts will be healed. We’ll be like the gasping fish that’s tossed back into the water. We’ll be back where we belong—in the loving arms of our heavenly Father.
Dear Father in heaven, I have brought such evil upon myself and such pain to Your heart. I’ve ignored You, the only One who loves me and treated Your law with contempt. Worst of all, I’ve dismissed the supreme gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, whom You’ve given as the sacrifice for my sins. Please forgive me, O God. Wash away my sins. Create in me a pure and loving heart. And help me, Father, to love You and my fellow human beings as I should. For Jesus’ sake, I ask this, Amen.