The Letter of Jeremiah, or the Epistle of Jeremiah, is a note of encouragement written by Jeremiah and sent to the exiles living in Babylon. The theme of the letter reminds the Jews in Babylon to avoid idols and idol worship.
A short one-chapter book, the Letter of Jeremiah, is comparable to, but different then, Jeremiah’s letter recorded in Jeremiah 29. Also, we see some similar language in Jeremiah 10:2-15.
Some versions of the Bible include the Letter of Jeremiah as an addendum to the book of Baruch, in Baruch 6. This includes the original Authorized King James Version (KJV), The New Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (NAB), Good News Translation (GNT) and Douay-Rheims (DRA). Though Baruch did not write the letter, he may have preserved it and added it to his other writings. This is understandable, since Baruch was the scribe who helped Jeremiah record the prophet’s writings for the book of Jeremiah.
The Letter of Jeremiah is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Common English Bible (CEB), Revised Standard Version (RSV), and Wycliffe Bible (WYC) all include the Letter of Jeremiah. The Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Churches have the Letter of Jeremiah in their scriptures.
An idol is literally a man-made image that is worshiped or an object of excessive admiration or devotion. Often idols were crafted for false gods.
In a figurative sense, an idol is anything that replaces God as a priority or becomes preeminent in one’s life. In today’s culture, that could mean money and the unwavering pursuit of it, possessions (such as homes, cars, and other toys), expensive clothes, prestige, amassing power, and even the accumulation of knowledge. These are but a few common idols.
The word idol appears over one hundred times in the Bible, while idols occurs hundreds more. The context is never positive.
The prophet Habakkuk, like many Old Testament mouthpieces for God, talked about the folly of a person who fashioned an object and then turned around to worship it. In essence, these ancient people would make something less them themselves and then revere it as something more. They would turn a log, a rock, or something they created into their god, an inanimate object they bowed down to, worshiped, and served. How foolish.
The idea of man making an object and then worshiping it seems ludicrous, yet are we any different today? It’s now fashionable to conceive of God as we want him to be. We keep the parts we like and throw away the parts we don’t. We assign him traits that don’t belong and ignore what does.
Modern culture often makes God into who we want him to be. Is that any less ridiculous than bowing down to an image made from wood or stone? Can a god concocted in our minds save us any more than a god fashioned with our hands?