The Entire Nation of Israel had Turned Away From God to Worship Idols
Jerusalem was the center of God’s problem.
The practice of worshipping idols or images, whether actual or imaginary, has always been an abomination to God. No image can properly represent who he truly is. The Bible teaches us that the only true God is an invisible Spirit who created everything that exists, exists everywhere in creation, and yet he is not the creation. How does one sculpt an image of an invisible God who is bigger than all of his creation? Images can only represent pieces of his creation or imaginary beings. God desires that humans worship him, not the things he has created nor creatures invented by an active imagination. Idol worship angers the only true God who does exist because it distracts people’s attention from finding him and leads to a multitude of evil practices.
The sin of idolatry began long before Jeremiah the prophet was sent to Jerusalem to speak against the transgressions of the people. The first mention of image worship in the Bible involves Jacob’s wife, Rachel, who stole her father’s idols as she departed with Jacob. The plagues against Egypt when God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel were all plagues against different Egyptian gods. Not long after delivering the children of Israel from Egypt, many were killed because of the worship of a golden calf made while Moses received God’s commandments up on the mountain. The second of the Ten Commandments specifically condemns images. The Israelites were ordered by God not to worship the idols of their neighbors when they entered the Promised Land nor intermarry with the surrounding nations. They were to maintain their distance from the idolatry of the wicked heathen around them, but many of them refused to obey. By the time Jeremiah was sent to warn the Jerusalem residents of their pending doom, idolatry had become the norm, and God was just another something to worship.
God records through the Prophet Jeremiah that the entire land of Judah and Israel had become idolatrous, Jerusalem was the hub from which the sin flowed, and everybody was guilty. God’s anger with the idolatry of the people was about to erupt. Let’s consider the idolatry that fueled God’s anger so deeply that he ultimately desolated the city of Jerusalem as well as the entire lands of Judah and Israel.
(In the Holy Bible all idols and imaginary gods are not capitalized. Only when the Bible refers to the one true God who created heaven and earth is the word â€˜God’ capitalized.)
Jeremiah 1:15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of
Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
Jer. 1:16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have
forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
Jer. 2:8 The priests said not, Where
the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and
the prophets prophesied
by Baal, and walked after
do not profit.
Hath a nation changed
yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for
doth not profit.
Jer. 2:12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
Jer. 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters,and
hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Jer. 2:26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,
Saying to a stock, Thou
my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for
they have turned
back unto me, and not
face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.
thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble:
the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.
Jer. 2:29 Wherefore will ye plead with me?
have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.
Jer. 2:32 Can a maid forget her ornaments,
a bride her attire? yet
my people have forgotten me days without number.
Jer. 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this?
thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by
them that areno gods:
when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
Jer. 5:19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all thesethings
unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like
as ye have forsaken me, and served strange godsin your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land
ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place,
neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
Jer. 7:9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and
burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;
Jer. 7:17 Seest thou not what they do
in the cities of Judah and
in the streets of Jerusalem?
gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead
to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods,
that they may provoke me to anger.
Jer. 7:30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD:
they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which
in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded
not, neither came it into my heart.
Jer. 8:2 And they shall spread them before
the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped:
they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.
But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:
Jer. 10:3 For the customs of the people
cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
Jer. 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Jer. 10:5 They
upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also
in them to do good.
But the LORD
the true God, he
the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Jer. 10:11 Thus shall ye say unto them,
The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth,even
they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
Jer. 10:14 Every man is brutish in
every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image
no breath in them.
Jer. 10:15 They
the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
Jer. 11:9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jer. 11:10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; andthey went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
Jer. 11:11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
Jer. 11:12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and
cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and
the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to
altars to burn incense unto Baal.
Jer. 11:17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves
to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
Jer. 13:9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride ofJerusalem.
Jer. 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and
walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
Jer. 16:10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what
our iniquity? or what
our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?
Jer. 16:11 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, andhave walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
And ye have done worse than your fathers;
for, behold, ye walk
after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
Jer. 16:13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not,
ye nor your fathers; and
there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favour.
Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they
Jer. 17:2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
Jer. 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me,
they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways
the ancient paths, to walk in paths,
a way not cast up;
Jer. 19:4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and
have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire
burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake
it, neither came
into my mind:
Jer. 19:13 And the houses of
and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto
Jer. 23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria;
they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
Jer. 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Jer. 23:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for
from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.
Please take note of God’s specific indictments against the prophets of Jerusalem in the last verses cited. The idolatry of the nation of Israel had its roots deeply embedded in Jerusalem, and the prophets in Jerusalem were instrumental in spreading the wickedness. By Jeremiah’s hand, God records the quantity of idols as numerous as the cities of Judah. Incense was being offered freely upon the rooftops to various idols. Images had been set in the Temple for worship. Children had been employed to gather wood for baking cakes to worship the queen of heaven (another imaginary goddess). Some children were even being burned alive in worship to Baal. All the while, the prophets strengthened the hands of the evildoers instead of turning them away from their wickedness.
It is no wonder that God brought Jeremiah from a distant city to prophesy against Jerusalem when we consider the magnitude of the cancerous idol worship that seems to have been spreading into all the land of Judah from Jerusalem. The lack of qualified prophets in Jerusalem is readily apparent. All were guilty according to Jeremiah 2:28-29 and 16:12, and God does not use wicked men to speak his message. The Bible states:
“ . . .
holy men of God
as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost.”56
The sin of idolatry in Jerusalem was so severe that it is difficult to imagine Lehi having done nothing about it long before Joseph Smith recorded that he did. Had he dwelt in Jerusalem all of his life and been the kind of man Joseph Smith alluded to, God would not have waited to send him forth to preach repentance until the city was almost empty. God would not have even needed to send Jeremiah to Jerusalem if Lehi had been already there and a holy man of the sort God uses. On the other hand, the passages above state that all were guilty. This would have included Lehi and Nephi had they truly existed. Lehi would never have been called from idolatry to be a prophet for the Holy God. His justification is only in the fact that he never truly existed in Jerusalem when Joseph Smith recorded he had.
Chapter fifteen will reveal that the residents of Jerusalem enjoyed their sin and refused to listen to God’s pleas for repentance. They had learned how to shut their ears against Jeremiah much like the Scribes and Pharisees did to Jesus when he spoke. Even today it is obvious that many people still prefer to stay in their sin and shut their ears rather than honestly confront the truth. Ultimately the residents of Jerusalem were all deported, killed, or died of starvation inside the walls of Jerusalem just as God had warned, and the city of Jerusalem as well as the lands of Judah and Israel lay completely desolate. Closing their ears did not help them nor will it help sinners today. Let’s consider Jerusalem’s hearing problem in chapter fifteen, and we will discover in chapter sixteen that God can close his ears too.
#56 2 Peter 1:21, KJV Bible