It seems to me that the contrast between God and idols was easy to recognize during the time of Jeremiah. For example, build a statue and call it a god should have been easy to recognize. Take tree branches and cover them in gold and silver would not have been difficult to see that this is an idol. Especially, when people dance around it and yell and scream at it and raise their hands to it and invite people to join you in such rituals. That would definitely classify itself as an idol.
In Jeremiah chapter 10 God reveals the contrast between idols and God. Look at God's description of an idol:
"Do not learn the way of the nations or be terrified of the signs of the heavens,
although the nations are terrified by them,
for the customs of the peoples are worthless.
Someone cuts down a tree from the forest;
it is worked by the hands of a craftsman with a chisel.
He decorates it with silver and gold.
It is fastened with hammer and nails, so it won't totter.
Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch,
THEIR IDOLS CANNOT SPEAK.
They must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them for they can do no harm--
and they CANNOT DO ANY GOOD!
LORD THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU.
YOU ARE GREAT; YOUR NAME IS GREAT IN POWER!" 10:2-6
Even though the differences are easily detectable...the Devil had BLINDED THEM so they could not see the difference between an "Idol" and God".
All my life I have heard believers preach against idols. It seems to me that idols today are much more unrecognizable today. For example:
A person moves up in his/her position on their job. They begin receiving more money than ever before. Suddenly, their attitude begins to change. They are much more interested in spending their time on their career moves and less on their relationship with God. Idol!
God gives a married couple children...beautiful children. They are so blessed that they want to spend every moment they can entertaining their family. So, they purchase things...things that take them places every weekend to spend time with their family...all the time. It makes sense because you have heard that you are supposed to invest your life into the lives of your children. Right? But, the time you spend with your family has taken you away from spending time with God. Your weekends are filled with trips and things that fascinate you and your family and but take your time away from teaching your family AND YOURSELF to worship and serve God FIRST. Idol!
When I was a kid I loved sports...especially baseball. I remember wanting an official baseball for my own. One day I got one. A Rawlings official Major League Baseball. I got a case to display it in my room. I was proud of it. It was mine. The feel, the look, and the smell of fresh leather fascinated me. I felt like I was somebody. Idol!
I remember purchasing a car that I had always dreamed of owning. It was a beautiful long spacious car. It wasn't new but it was new to me. There was a special audio tape that came with it to describe all the attributes of that car. I would pull it into my garage and sit in the car where no one could see me and listen to that recording over and over again. I loved it. I could not believe that I owned it. Idol! (By the way...seven months later Linda and I were with a family from our church and another pastor and family eating at a restaurant after church. When we left the restaurant we noticed our can had been stolen. The police found it the next day in downtown Cleveland, Ohio totally stripped and ruined.) God knows exactly what it takes to humble us.
The "Fan" is a shortened version of the word "Fanatic". We all have witnessed the ways of a "Fan". They purchase the clothing. They purchase the tickets. They refuse to miss one moment of their favorite team. They bow at the altar of their team. The tithe in focus, energy, money, and time is given to their team. Idol!
Funny how we do the same today as they did in the day of Jeremiah...we just call it something different.
How do you know if you have idolatry in your life? Think about it. Ponder it sincerely. What sits on the throne of your life? If its' NOT Jesus...it's probably an Idol. If it's the Bengals or the Browns or the Steelers or the Buckeyes or the Razorbacks (You put the name in there) it's probably an Idol.
I don't think Jeremiah was dealing with sports addiction like the Jerusalem Jazz or the Samaria Spartans, but he was dealing with something that the people were idolizing in place of God. Golden calves...wooden idols...gold and silver...the Temple...their ancestry. If God judged them based on their idolatry it is a certainty that God will judge us for the same thing.
People have always tried to replace God with something they consider more worthy. You cannot. If you try you will fail. What did Jeremiah say...
"LORD THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU.
YOU ARE GREAT; YOUR NAME IS GREAT IN POWER!"
Nothing else compares with God.
Now, God has answered the question about idols. In comparison, idols are worthless in the presence of God.
May God Bless You!
TO GOD BE ALL GLORY!