“ Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field”– Jeremiah 10:5
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I forget which old Tarzan movie it was exactly (after all, there were forty-one made from 1918-1970, and several more after that!), but there was a scene in one of them where our great hero of the jungle encountered a massive idol-god deep in the rain forest. Shaped something like a pyramid, it stood there unmoved, smoke coming from its top, and its devotees feverishly adding wood to the fire to keep the smoke bellowing up into the sky. Then, there were the throngs of ‘natives’ who brought sacrifices to appease the stolid deity, accompanied by ecstatic supplications for protection and provision. Even as a young boy, I was impressed and fascinated by the great contrast between the active worshipers and their static, unresponsive god.
The Old testament prophet Jeremiah got it right with his colorful description of all such idols. They are nothing but “ scarecrows in a cucumber field”! And as Jeremiah adds in verse 5, such idols “ 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.”
In contrast to these false-gods, the One True and Living God is anything but inactive!
In the Gospel of John, our Lord Jesus Himself explained that, “ My Father is working until now” (5:17). According to Jesus, the God who has saved us is always at work, always doing things great and small, and always working out His eternal purposes for our world and for the entire universe!
To bring this down to a very personal level, we might reflect upon the many ways that our Father is ever active in the lives of those who, by His grace and mercy, belong to His Son. Scripture provides us with nothing short of an overwhelming picture of His constant activity on our behalf. Let me provide but a few examples from the Old Testament, namely from Psalms and Isaiah:
18:32, 48–He arms us with strength and delivers us from our enemies.
32:7–He protects us from trouble.
37:28–He loves us and will not forsake us.
41:1–He delivers us from danger and is always guarding us and preserving our lives.
73:23–He is holding us and guiding our lives.
111:5–He is providing for our bodily needs.
121:3–He is preventing our feet from slipping.
145:14, 19, 20–He is upholding us when we fall, fulfilling the desires of our hearts as we fear Him, and watching over us.
147:3–He is healing our broken hearts.
40:29–He gives us strength when we are weary.
50:7–He helps us continually.
51:12–He comforts us.
Now, these are just a few of the manifold actions of our God on behalf of His people that are to be discovered in the Old Testament.
When it comes to the New Testament, the list of divine works is just as impressive. For the sake of brevity, we might simply appeal to a couple of passages from Paul’s epistles:
Romans 8:28–“ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Philippians 2:13–“ for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
It seems clear enough that this is what our Lord was referring to when He told His Jewish opponents that His Father is “ working until now.” Not only is He “ working” in His governance and maintenance of the universe, He is powerfully at work in each of our lives; blessing, protecting, leading, nourishing, energizing, and forming us into His holy and beloved people!
If I may risk sounding a bit disrespectful, our God is not just sitting there on His throne, watching us serve Him, depending upon our contribution to His happiness and well-being! He is not like that “ scarecrow” in the field, swaying in the wind, and deteriorating from exposure to the elements! And He does not need us to add wood to the fire we ourselves have sparked in order to make Him appear holy and alive! He is Holy, and alive, and active with or without us! But because He has actively claimed us in His grace as His very own, He is working on our behalf, always!
Now, what’s really amazing is that such knowledge, if properly understood, does not lead to passivity on our part. Rather, it prompts us to energetically serve the One who is always acting for our benefit!
I have a feeling that if that idol in the old Tarzan movie could have spoken (a totally absurd idea for sure!), it would have said something like, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Whether in Hollywood or in real life, idols simply can’t do anything for anybody!
However, your Father in heaven has something very different to say to you on this new Monday (and He really can speak!). He says He is working even now! He is busy for the benefit of those He loves the most, those whose sins He has paid for with the blood of His Only-Begotten Son! And because His Word is always true, we can faithfully serve Him in the very power that He provides for us each moment!
As you begin your work-week, remember that long before your feet hit the ground this morning, your loving Father was already at work! For in His eternal work-week, there is no weekend of inactivity! How awesome this truth is!
I love you so much,