Etikettarkiv | jeremiah

It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps? – Jer. 10:23

direct stepsJer. 10:23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to DIRECT HIS STEPS

Some people seem to believe, that if you manage to find ”God directs his steps” in a bible verse or two, then this means that God directs ALL steps of ALL people ALL THE TIME with NO EXCEPTION and with NO involvement by man.

God is in Jer. 10:23 speaking to Israel through the prophet of Jeremiah. God warns the israelites from doing as the heathens (who were acting against the will of God) by not being dismayed by the signs in heaven. Instead of letting the stars direct our steps, we should let God direct our steps – but then we have to seek his will. ”The customs of the people are in vain” according to God, and as an example he gives details about the heathens decorating and erecting false idols to worship. This is actually the same verses which some people commonly use to show that it’s a sin to make use of christmas trees, but they fail to see that this is about building false idols.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.They are 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 is it in them to do good.

As a contrast to mute and false gods, GOD is a living God! We are also told that his WRATH will cause people to tremble, because apparently people’s behavior sometimes cause God to be angry and to show indignation at their doings. Things definitely don’t always turn out the way God wants, and false gods and other sins always happen against his will.

10 But the Lord is the true God, he is 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.

Their false gods have certainly not made the heavens and the earth, so they are worshiping them in vain. They are breaking the first commandment, which is to worship God alone.

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—14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

But not all people are wicked heathens who worship false gods. At least they are not supposed to! God seems to fear that the crimes of the heathen will even affect the children of Jacob.

16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.

God’s tabernacle is spoiled, and his children are gone forth of him (even risking to devour the children of Jacob), and God is grieved that they have stopped caring for his tabernacle the way they used to. Even the pastors have become brutish and they have not sought the Lord. For this reason (their refusal to seek the Lord) they shall not prosper, and the consequence will be that their flocks shall be scattered. So not only are the heathens involved in wickedness, but God’s own children are too!

20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

It’s in this context that v. 23 comes in. A man is not supposed to turn his back on God by not seeking his guidance, and to drift away in his own ways. Man is not supposed to direct his own steps, but God is supposed to direct his steps – which is impossible if man doesn’t even seek God. Man is supposed to be corrected by God, but the heathens have chosen to not seek God or call on his name. They have eaten up even Jacob! No wonder God is grieved and uses Jeremiah to warn his unruly people.

23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.24 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.

The promise is that if we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, HE SHALL DIRECT OUR STEPS!

Prov. 1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

You can also read about Proverbs 16:4-9 here and Proverbs 21:1 here.

Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, says God to Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5

MageBefore I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5)

This verse shows God’s plans for Jeremiah before he was born, and it doesn’t imply that Jeremiah could not have resisted God’s purpose for him. The case could also be that God foreknew that Jeremiah would accept the ordination, and therefore expressed himself the way he did. Also Paul was appointed for a certain service, and he chose to not be disobedient to it.

Acts 26: 19Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision20But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

There are other verses in the book of Jeremiah that show that people can act in total contrast to God’s will.

Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY HEART.

Jeremiah 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY MIND.

The book of Jeremiah also contains many poetic and prophetic descriptions and analogies. There are many verses we can’t take literally. Just look at the rest of the text in the very same chapter; Jeremiah 1.

6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

But children CAN speak if they are old enough, and surely Jeremiah wasn’t a child when he spoke to God?

8Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

If God predestines everything that comes to pass, then God should really have said ”I will make sure you will not be afraid of their faces” instead of warning/advising Jeremiah for not being afraid of their faces.

9Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Surely God didn’t literally use his hand of flesh and blood to touch Jeremiah’s mouth.

10See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Is the idea that Jeremiah was supposed to literally do all those things, as in literally build something (buildings?) and PLANT something (seeds?) I don’t believe God’s words are hard to understand as long as we recognize the poetic and prophetic descriptions involved.

15For, 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.

Are we supposed to believe that ALL families (100%) of the kingdoms of the north will come and set their thrones (literally?) at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem?

16And 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.

Here we can read that God will judge those who have FORSAKEN him, burned incense to other gods and worshiped the works of their hands. Did God WANT them to forsake him, burn incense to other gods and worship the created things instead of their true Creator? Clearly not! Those things are nothing but SINS and God doesn’t want us to sin but to OBEY him. Since the people spoken of were disobedient, it shows man’s free will in action.

17Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

”Gird up thy loins” is a well-known idiom, and once more we can read here that God advises Jeremiah to NOT be dismayed at their faces. IF he would still choose to do this (LEST) God would in his turn confound Jeremiah before them. So whether God would confound Jeremiah or not depended on Jeremiah’s actions.

18For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

God didn’t literally do all those things that particular day.

19And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

In the next chapter Jeremiah 2, we can see more evidence of people acting against the will of God. 

5Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?6Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt—7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 8The priests said not, Where is 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 things that do not profit.9Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.10For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.11Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.13For 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.—16Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.17Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?19Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.20For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.21Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?22For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.23How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;—27Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.28But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.29Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.30In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.31O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? 32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.—35Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

It’s rather silly to ignore all the above examples of man thwarting God’s hopes and plans, as well as God pleading with man  (just like the rest of Jeremiah, and the rest of the BIBLE) and select one verse out of context just to support a certain doctrine. God could have created us with NO free will if he wanted, but seeing this would make us into robots, he apparently created us with Free Will and THAT would be a godly decision we could NOT change even if we wanted.