A Satire on Idolatry
10 Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord,
“Do not learn the way of the [pagan] nations,
And do not be terrified and distressed by the signs of the heavens
Although the pagans are terrified by them;
For the customs and decrees of the peoples are [mere] delusion [exercises in futility];
It is only wood which one cuts from the forest [to make a god],
The work of the hands of the craftsman with the axe or cutting tool.
“They adorn the idol with silver and with gold;
They fasten it with hammers and nails
So that it will not fall apart.
“They are like scarecrows in a cucumber field;
They cannot speak;
They have to be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not be afraid of them,
For they can do no harm or evil,
Nor can they do any good.”
There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and great is Your mighty and powerful name.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
For it is appropriate and it is Your due!
For among all the wise men of the nations
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You.
But they are altogether irrational and stupid and foolish
In their discipline of delusion—their idol is [only] wood [it is ridiculous, empty and worthless]!
Silver that has been beaten [into plates] is brought from [a]Tarshish,
And gold from [b]Uphaz,
The work of the craftsman and of the hand of the goldsmith;
Violet and purple are their clothing;
They are all the work of skilled men.
But the Lord is the true God and the God who is Truth;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
The earth quakes and shudders at His wrath,
And the nations are not able to endure His indignation.
11 In this manner you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
God made the earth by His power;
He established the world by His wisdom
And by His understanding and skill He has stretched out the heavens.
When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of [c]waters in the heavens,
And He causes the clouds and the mist to ascend from the end of the earth;
He makes lightning for the rain,
And brings out the wind from His treasuries and from His storehouses.
Every man has become [like a brute] irrational and stupid, without knowledge [of God];
Every goldsmith is shamed by his carved idols;
For his molten images are frauds and lies,
And there is no breath in them.
They are worthless and devoid of promise, a work of delusion and mockery;
In their time of [trial and] punishment they will perish [without hope].
The Portion of Jacob [the true God on whom Israel has a claim] is not like these;
For He is the Designer and Maker of all things,
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance [and He will not fail them]—
The Lord of hosts is His name.
Gather up your bundle [of goods] from the ground,
You who live under siege.
For thus says the Lord;
“Behold, I am slinging out at this time the people of this land,
And will cause them [great] distress,
That they may find it [to be as I have said].”
“Woe to me because of my [spiritual] brokenness!” [says Jeremiah, speaking for the nation.]
“My wound is incurable.”
But I said, “Surely this sickness and suffering and grief are mine,
And I must bear it.”
My tent is destroyed,
And all my [tent] cords are broken;
My children have been taken from me [as captives] and are no more.
There is no one to stretch out my tent again
And to set up my [tent] curtains.
For the shepherds [of the people] have become [like brutes,] irrational and stupid,
And have not searched for the Lord or asked about Him or realized their need for Him;
Therefore they have not been wise and have not prospered,
And all their flocks are scattered.
The sound of a report! Behold, [the invader] comes—
A great commotion from the country of the north (Babylonia)—
To make the cities of Judah
A desolation, a haunt and dwelling place of jackals.
O Lord, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself;
It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life].(A)
O Lord, correct me [along with Your people], but with mercy and in just measure—
Not in Your anger, or You will crush me and bring me to nothing.
Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know nor recognize You
And on the families that do not call Your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
They have devoured him and consumed him
And made his land a desolate waste.
The Broken Covenant
11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, 2 “Hear the words of this [solemn] covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the people of Jerusalem. 3 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Cursed is the man who does not heed the words of this covenant 4 which I commanded your fathers at the time that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My voice and do according to all that I command you. So you shall be My people, and I will be your God,’ 5 that I may complete the oath which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land [of plenty] [d]flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day.”’” Then I answered, “Amen (so be it), O Lord.”
6 And the Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Hear the words of this [solemn] covenant and do them. 7 For I solemnly warned your fathers at the time that I brought them up from the land of Egypt, even to this day, warning them persistently, saying, “Obey My voice.” 8 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear [to listen to Me], but everyone walked in the stubborn way of his [own] evil heart. Therefore I brought on them all [the suffering threatened in] the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.’”
9 Then the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the people of Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the wickedness of their ancestors who refused to hear My words; they have followed other gods [in order] to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My [solemn] covenant which I made with their fathers.” 11 Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold I am bringing disaster and suffering on them which they will not be able to escape; though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry to the [man-made] gods to whom they burn incense, but they cannot save them in the time of their disaster. 13 For [as many as] the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah; and [as many as] the number of the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.
14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, for I shall not listen when they cry to Me in the time of their disaster.
“What right has My beloved [to be] in My house
When she has done many vile things and acted treacherously [over and over again]?
Can vows and the meat of your sacrifices remove your wickedness from you and cancel the consequences of your sin,
So that you can [escape your judgment and] rejoice?”
The Lord [acknowledged you once as worthy and] called your name,
“A green olive tree, fair and beautiful in fruit and form”;
But with the roar of a great tempest
He has set fire to it,
And its branches are worthless.(B)
17 For the Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced evil and horror against you because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me [to anger] by offering sacrifices and burning incense to Baal.
Plots against Jeremiah
Then the Lord gave me knowledge [of their plot], and I knew it;
So You [O Lord] revealed their deeds to me.
But I was like a gentle and tame lamb brought to the slaughter;
And I did not know that they had devised plots and schemes against me, 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 longer.”
But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
Who tests the feelings and the heart (mind),
Let me see Your vengeance on them,
For to You I have committed my cause.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord regarding the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, so that you will not die by our hand.” 22 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I am about to punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and their daughters will die by famine; 23 and there will be no remnant [of the conspirators] left, for I will bring disaster and horror on the men of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”
- Jeremiah 10:9 Perhaps a reference to an ancient refinery located on the island of Sardinia.
- Jeremiah 10:9 The location of this gold mining region is unknown.
- Jeremiah 10:13 Some ancient people believed that the sky was a canopy over the earth and that God stored rainwater behind it. Therefore, it rained only when God opened the windows of heaven.
- Jeremiah 11:5 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
18 Wives, be [a]subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and [b]fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them] and do not be embittered or resentful toward them [because of the responsibilities of marriage]. 20 Children, obey your parents [as God’s representatives] in all things, for this [attitude of respect and obedience] is well-pleasing [c]to the Lord [and will bring you God’s promised blessings]. 21 Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken].
22 Servants, in everything obey those who are your masters on earth, not only with external service, as those who merely please people, but with sincerity of heart because of your fear of the Lord. 23 Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve. 25 For he who does wrong will be punished for his wrongdoing, and [with God] there is no partiality [no special treatment based on a person’s position in life].
4 Masters, [on your part] deal with your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.(A)
2 Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving. 3 At the same time pray for us, too, that God will open a door [of opportunity] to us for the word, to proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I have been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear [and speak boldly and unfold the mystery] in the way I should.
5 Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-believers), make the most of each opportunity [treating it as something precious]. 6 Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].
7 As to all my affairs, [d]Tychicus, who is a much-loved brother and faithful assistant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will give you all the information.(B) 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are doing and that he may encourage your hearts; 9 and with him is [e]Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will let you know everything about the situation here [in Rome].
10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, wishes to be remembered to you; as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11 and from Jesus, who is called Justus. These are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision (Jewish Christians), and they have proved to be an encouragement and a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [He is] always striving for you in his prayers, praying with genuine concern, [pleading] that you may [as people of character and courage] stand firm, [spiritually mature] and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has worked strenuously for you and for the believers in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. 15 Give my greetings to the [f]brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 When this letter has been read among you, see that it is read in the church of the Laodiceans; and also that you in turn read [g]my letter [that is coming to you] from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See to it that you fulfill [carefully the duties of] the ministry which you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. May grace (God’s unmerited favor and blessing) be with you.
- Colossians 3:18 The wife is to submit voluntarily to her husband (not to men in general); not as inferior to him, nor in violation of her Christian ethics, but honoring her husband’s responsibilities and authority as head of the household.
- Colossians 3:18 I.e. not in conflict with Scripture.
- Colossians 3:20 Lit in, as “in the Lord’s presence.”
- Colossians 4:7 Tychicus probably delivered this letter to Colossae, as well as Paul’s letter to Ephesus, while traveling on the same journey.
- Colossians 4:9 Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave who was converted to Christianity under Paul’s ministry.
- Colossians 4:15 Lit brethren.
- Colossians 4:16 Paul is most likely referring to the letter he wrote to the Ephesians (see note Eph 1:1) during this same time period.
Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God
And did not keep His testimonies (laws).
They turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;
They were twisted like a warped bow [that will not respond to the archer’s aim].
For they provoked Him to [righteous] anger with their high places [devoted to idol worship]
And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images [by denying Him the love, worship, and obedience that is rightfully and uniquely His].
When God heard this, He was filled with [righteous] wrath;
And utterly rejected Israel, [greatly hating her ways],
So that He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh,
The tent in which He had dwelled among men,
And gave up His strength and power (the ark of the covenant) into captivity,
And His glory into the hand of the enemy (the Philistines).(A)
He also handed His people over to the sword,
And was infuriated with His inheritance (Israel).(B)
The fire [of war] devoured His young men,
And His [bereaved] virgins had no wedding songs.
His priests [Hophni and Phinehas] fell by the sword,
And His widows could not weep.(C)
Then the Lord awakened as from sleep,
Like a [mighty] warrior who awakens from the sleep of wine [fully conscious of his power].
He drove His enemies backward;
He subjected them to lasting shame and dishonor.
Moreover, He rejected the tent of Joseph,
And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim [in which the tabernacle stood].
But He chose the tribe of Judah [as Israel’s leader],
Mount Zion, which He loved [to replace Shiloh as His capital].
And He built His sanctuary [exalted] like the heights [of the heavens],
Like the earth which He has established forever.
He also chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds;(D)
[a]From [b]tending the ewes with nursing young He brought him
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.(E)
So David shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart;
And guided them with his skillful hands.
- Psalm 78:71 The first impression one might receive from this passage is that God elevated David from the lowliest position in Israel to the highest. But the ancient rabbis said that God tested David’s skills and wisdom as a shepherd. For example, it is said that David held back the bigger sheep from the pasture and brought out the smaller ones first to graze on the tender grass. The rabbis represented God as saying, “He who knows how to shepherd the sheep, each one in proportion to its strength, shall come and shepherd My people.”
- Psalm 78:71 Lit following.
Do not be a witness against your [a]neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips [speak neither lies nor half-truths].(A)
Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for his deed.”(B)
- Proverbs 24:28 I.e. anyone who comes into your life, not necessarily one who lives nearby.