Chapter ten completes this short section (beginning with chapter eight), with a special focus on Israel’s trust in false gods rather than Jehovah. In Jeremiah 10:1-5, God spoke to the worthlessness of these idols. They were carved and decorated by a man but possessed no more power than scarecrow in a field. In contrast, “there is no one like” Jehovah (Jeremiah 10:6-7). He alone deserves worship because of his wisdom and power. Idol worship is foolish (Jeremiah 10:8-9), but Jehovah “is the only true God” (Jeremiah 10:10). This was the message that God had tasked Israel with declaring to the nations, but they had failed (Jeremiah 10:11-16).
Because of their failure, not just to declare Jehovah among the nations, but to participate in the worship of these worthless false gods from the surrounding nations, God told them to pack their bags, because they would be removed from their land (Jeremiah 10:17-25). Not only had he given them repeated chances to return to him, God had told them through Moses (800 years earlier) that idol worship would lead to their exile (Deuteronomy 28). In a display of humility and wisdom, Jeremiah accepted this punishment on behalf of Israel, but (like Moses) he interceded, asking that God not punish in anger but in justice (Jeremiah 10:24-25). Instead, Jeremiah asked that God would save his full anger for the pagan “nations that do not acknowledge you…who do not worship you.”