Jeremiah 51:17-19 and What is Different About the Lord and Other Gods

adamMuch of the Old Testament, and even some of the New Testament, deals with the idea of other gods. There is a constant reminder that the Lord is unlike other gods. In some instances the gods are referred to as empty ideas that are nothing. The idols represent nothing. In other instances the gods are referred to as demons who are passing themselves off as gods. In either case, the Lord is set up as different. As far as the Bible is concerned the Lord is the one, true God who has decisively acted in history in the lives of the people of the covenant, Israel, and in the lives of the people of the new covenant, the Church. He is the living God and there is no other god besides him. He is perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ, who is God-in-the-flesh, and he continues to be present with his people in the presence of his Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah’s prophecy deals a lot with the Jewish people’s worship of idols. This is what leads to Jerusalem’s destruction. The most direct explanation of why those idols are different from the Lord, though, comes in this passage:

17 Everyone is too foolish to understand;
    every smith is shamed by his idols,
        for their images are shams;
        they aren’t alive.
18 They are a delusion, a charade;
    at the appointed time they will be ruined!
19 But the portion of Jacob
is utterly different,
    for he has formed all things,
    including his very own tribe;
        the Lord of heavenly forces
        is his name!

People form the idols they worship, but the Lord formed everything including his people! The Lord creates; he is not created. The Lord forms; he is not formed. We do not make an image of the Lord; he makes us in his image. This is one of the most succinct and sublime explanations of the difference between the Lord and all the other gods of the world.

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