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 10:5).
When I (Helen) teach a book, I like to come up with a title for the book, expressing what I believe to be the heart of the author’s intention in writing. Actually, this is a step our students do in their Inductive Bible Study work on SBS, and it’s something I’ve carried over from when I was a student. For Jeremiah, which I taught a few weeks ago, I titled the book “Jeremiah: A Broken-Hearted Prophet For a Broken-Hearted God.” Jeremiah is filled with examples of God’s broken-heartedness over the state of His people. They had been rejecting His covenant for centuries, their kings had been leading the people in rebellion, and possibly most heart-breaking of all, they turned to false gods and idols, looking for prosperity and protection. The One True God, Yahweh, was the Fountain of Living Waters they longed for and needed, but the people of Judah looked to broken cisterns – idols – for sustenance and satisfaction (Jeremiah 2:13).
Jeremiah includes some beautiful word-pictures, contrasting the Lord with idols His people worshiped. In Jeremiah 10:5, above, the Lord highlights the futility of worshiping a “god” that one has fashioned one’s self: that cannot move, speak, or do anything for good or for evil. Worshiping an idol is akin to worshiping a scarecrow in a cucumber field. “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10). “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens” (10:12). While “images are false, and there is no breath in them” (10:14), “not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things” (10:16).
It’s easy for us to scoff at the people of Judah, worshiping idols instead of the Living God. But are there “scarecrows in cucumber fields” in our own lives? What do we place our trust in? Who or what do we turn to in difficulty? Do we run to broken cisterns, when we could run to the Fountain of Living Waters? Do we turn to lifeless scarecrows when we could turn to the One who made the earth by His power, established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His understanding?
I know I am all too comfortable running to scarecrows in cucumber fields when I am anxious, tired, upset, or even bored. But the endless “entertainment” of the internet, for example, cannot provide the life I need, any more than a physical idol could protect and provide for the people of Judah. Perhaps your scarecrow is food, or drink, or work, or money. Maybe it’s a desire to accumulate more, or to accomplish more. Whatever it may be, you’ll find that like a literal scarecrow, your idol has no thought for you or any power to breathe life into your being.
Let us cast down our scarecrows, and turn to the One who breathes life into the universe and into each one of us.