Jeremiah & The Rings of Akhaten

If you’re a Whovian, you may have recognized the Doctor Who reference in the title. If you’re familiar with the Bible, you probably noticed an Old Testament prophet as well. If you knew both, I’m guessing we would be good friends. If you didn’t recognize either, no worries; I’ll introduce you. 😉

A ministry leader told me once that when you’re praying for a word from the Lord, Jeremiah is one of a few books from which you don’t necessarily want to get a reference. I don’t remember the others, but I think Isaiah and Revelation may have also been on the list.

The reason, he said, is that there is a good chance it’s not going to be an encouraging word. As I’ve made my way through the first 1/3 of the book this week, I can tell you that there is a lot of uncomfortable stuff in there. Uncomfortable though it may be, I’m learning a lot, and being challenged. – Don’t be surprised if Jeremiah shows up in other posts during the next few weeks.

Before I share the bit of Jeremiah’s book that pertains to this particular post, allow me to explain where the Doctor comes into the picture…

Doctor Who returned to television with new episodes last week, so of course, the Whovian in me felt the need to review a bit after the 8-month hiatus. During the last couple of weeks, I have watched most of the previous season’s episodes, and an episode called “The Rings of Akhaten” has planted itself firmly in my mind for some reason.

I wasn’t terribly wowed by the episode when it first aired, but over the past year it has become one that I go back to on occasion. I’m guessing one reason for this is that music is a major part of the story, and I love music. Two of the songs from the episode have been on repeat in my head for days now. Here is a little taste of the episode.

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If you are not a Doctor Who fan, you’re likely confused. That’s okay. I’m not going to waste time trying to explain it, not because you (and the Doctor) aren’t worth it, but because you would still be confused after any explanation I could offer and the particulars of the show aren’t important to this post.

The important stuff to note is that the Doctor and his traveling companion have come to this planet for this festival that occurs every millennia or so. The inhabitants of the seven planets orbiting their sun, believe a golden temple on one of the planets is the place where all life in the universe originated, and they worship a god they believe to be housed in the temple.

The currency used on the planet is objects that hold meaning to the owner. The more sentimental value an object holds, the more value it has as currency. The same goes for the objects the residents were offering to “Grandfather” or the “old god”.

The inhabitants of this particular star system offer these gifts to this “god” to keep him asleep. He feeds off of the stories and memories of others, and it is important to keep him asleep lest he devour the souls of the entire system. Apparently, it is inevitable that, should “Grandfather” wake, it will always be on the wrong side of the bed.

The girl offering the song is the “Queen of Years”, the vessel of her land’s history. She knows every song, poem, legend, and chronicle of her people. The thing she doesn’t seem to know is that she is, in fact, a sacrifice to the old god so that he will go back to sleep after he wakes. Because she knows the whole history of the culture that serves this “god”, she will slake his appetite for the memories and lives of others and prevent a feeding frenzy on thousands of others.

The thing that struck me as I was watching this story again last night, and then reading Jeremiah this morning, was the simple truth that there is none like God. In Jeremiah 10: 1-16 a clear case is made for the fact that idols cannot compare with God.

6 There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and great is Your name in might.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
Indeed it is Your due!
For among all the wise men of the nations
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You. Jeremiah 10:6-7 (NASB)

As I watched the story of this ravenous “god” who was really nothing more than a parasite, feeding off of the lives of others, I realized again how thankful I am for a loving God. I found it interesting that they used “Grandfather” as a name for the “old god”. Whether the writers meant to relate in some way to God being our Father, I don’t know, but the imagery connected in my mind. The difference being that instead of sacrificing a young girl to appease the being into staying asleep, Christians rejoice in the fact that our Father never sleeps. He is always watching out for us.

It also struck me that the people were offering things of value to them to appease this “god”, in fear of the wrath that would awaken if they didn’t. I don’t know about you, but that reminds me of nearly every world religion, every false god that is served on this planet. I am so grateful that I serve a God who gives me life instead of taking it. I serve Him, and yes, offer my life to Him, but it is out of love and gratitude instead of fear. I think of the people in India trying to assuage 300,000,000 gods, or those in Africa trying to satisfy the spirits, the people in China feeding their ancestors, or even the people here in the British Isles leaving money and other offerings for the spirits of those long dead or of the rivers, trees, or rocks.

SPOILERS… In the end, “Grandfather” is defeated by a story – a story of love, the infinite potential of a life ended too soon , and what might have been. I also know a story that can defeat every false god, whether a fictional parasitic planet, or an idol made of wood or metal, or an ideology that is a perversion of the true God. It is the story of the true source of all life in the universe, of Love, a life sacrificed for all, and a resurrection to abundant life given to anyone who will accept it.

Yes, Jeremiah is rather discouraging at times. At times, the God who is speaking the words contained there even sounds more like “Grandfather” – a vengeful God of wrath, than a loving Father longing for His children to come home. Yet in this same book, we find words of love and reassurance that He has good plans, “plans to prosper and not to harm” (Jeremiah 29:11-14), that He has loved us “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), that He will answer us and speak great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3).

This is the God I serve. He is jealous, not to steal our lives, but to be included in them. He wants relationship with us. He wants to consume us, not to feed off of us, but because it is in Him that we live, move and have our being. In Him is the only place that we can be fully alive.

Too many people are going through life trying so hard to follow the rules closely enough that they won’t awaken the wrath of God. I pray that my life will be an example of the freedom and life that comes from offering my story fully to the Father. He is Love; He is Life itself.

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