Jeremiah 16:20
Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
16:14-21 The restoration from the Babylonish captivity would be remembered in place of the deliverance from Egypt; it also typified spiritual redemption, and the future deliverance of the church from antichristian oppression. But none of the sins of sinners can be hidden from God, or shall be overlooked by him. He will find out and raise up instruments of his wrath, that shall destroy the Jews, by fraud like fishers, by force like hunters. The prophet, rejoicing at the hope of mercy to come, addressed the Lord as his strength and refuge. The deliverance out of captivity shall be a figure of the great salvation to be wrought by the Messiah. The nations have often known the power of Jehovah in his wrath; but they shall know him as the strength of his people, and their refuge in time of trouble.First - Before the return from exile.

I will recompense their iniquity ... double - The ordinary rule of the Law (Isaiah 40:2 note). Sin is twofold; there is the leaving of God's will undone, and the actual wrongdoing. And every punishment is twofold: first, there is the loss of the blessing which would have followed upon obedience, and secondly, the presence of actual misery.

Because they have defiled ... - Rather, "because they have profaned My land with the carcases of their detestable things" (their lifeless and hateful idols, the very touch of which pollutes like that of a corpse, Numbers 19:11); "and hare filled My inheritance with their abominations."

20. indignant protest of Jeremiah against idols.

and they (are) no gods—(Jer 2:11; Isa 37:19; Ga 4:8). "They" refers to the idols. A man (a creature himself) making God is a contradiction in terms. Vulgate takes "they" thus: "Shall man make gods, though men themselves are not gods?"

It is doubtful whether these be to be understood as the words of God, showing the unreasonableness of the sin of idolatry, or, as others make them, the continued speech of the Gentiles, who after their conversion should see the unreasonableness of worshipping the works of their own hands. Whoso owneth a God owneth an infinite Being, a First Cause, and Mover, and Creator of all things. Now can any be so sottishly stupid as to think that a finite being should give a being to an infinite Being; that he who is a creature should make his Creator, that he should be a cause to the First Cause? (things which are all contradictions to the common sense of men). A man is no god himself; how can he communicate a divine nature, which himself hath not, to another?

Shall a man make gods unto himself,.... Can a man make his own gods? a poor, weak, mortal man? can he make gods of gold, silver, brass, wood, or stone? can he put deity into them? and when he has made images of these, can he be so stupid as to account them gods, and worship them? can he be so sottish, and void of understanding, as to imagine that anything that is made by himself or any other, can be God?

and they are no gods; that are made by men; he only is the true God, that is the Maker and Creator of all things; or they are no gods themselves that pretend to make them, and therefore how should they make gods? can they give that which they have not? or impart deity to others which they have not themselves? These words are a continuation of the speech of the Gentiles, and contain their reasonings, exposing the folly of their idolatrous ancestors: though some take them to be the words of God, or of the prophet, inveighing against the Jews for their stupidity in worshipping idols; when the Gentiles were convinced of the folly and vanity of such practices, and acknowledged it.

Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - But the Jews of this generation, in spite of the manifold proofs of the true religion which have been vouchsafed to them, are deserting the real divinity for the unreal. In a tone of surprise the prophet exclaims, Shall a man make gods unto himself, etc.? Jeremiah 16:20 In his cry to the Lord: My strength...in the day of trouble, which agrees closely with Psalm 28:8; Psalm 59:17; Psalm 18:3, Jeremiah utters not merely his own feelings, but those which would animate every member of his people. In the time of need the powerlessness of the idols to help, and so their vanity, becomes apparent. Trouble therefore drives to God, the Almighty Lord and Ruler of the world, and forces to bend under His power. The coming tribulation is to have this fruit not only in the case of the Israelites, but also in that of the heathen nations, so that they shall see the vanity of the idolatry they have inherited from their fathers, and be converted to the Lord, the only true God. How this knowledge is to be awakened in the heathen, Jeremiah does not disclose; but it may be gathered from Jeremiah 16:15, from the deliverance of Israel, there announced, out of the heathen lands into which they had been cast forth. By this deliverance the heathen will be made aware both of the almighty power of the God of Israel and of the nothingness of their own gods. On הבל cf. Jeremiah 2:5; and with "none that profiteth," cf. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 14:22. In Jeremiah 16:20 the prophet confirms what the heathen have been saying. The question has a negative force, as is clear from the second clause. In Jeremiah 16:21 we have the Lord's answer to the prophets' confession in Jeremiah 16:19. Since the Jews are so blinded that they prefer vain idols to the living God, He will this time so show them His hand and His strength in that foretold chastisement, that they shall know His name, i.e., know that He alone is God in deed and in truth. Cf. Ezekiel 12:15; Exodus 3:14.
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