Jeremiah 13 (NLT)
Jeremiah’s Linen Loincloth
This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.” 2 So I bought the loincloth as the Lord directed me, and I put it on.
3 Then the Lord gave me another message: 4 “Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord had instructed me.
6 A long time afterward the Lord said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.” 7 So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.
8 Then I received this message from the Lord: 9 “This is what the Lord says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth—good for nothing! 11 As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.
Here is a very interesting illustration. God tells Jeremiah to buy a new linen belt and wear it around his waist (Vs. 1). At that time, a linen belt was an intimate piece of clothing, comparable to the underwear of today. After Jeremiah wore the belt, God directed him to take it off and hide it in some rocks near a river (Vs. 4). After many days, God told Jeremiah to return to Perath and retrieve the belt (Vs. 6). After sitting in the elements, the belt that was once perfect and clean was ruined and completely useless (Vs. 7).
The belt was symbolic of the people of Judah. They were once a people who were close to God, just as the belt was once close to Jeremiah. Over time, though, the people of Judah allowed pride to come into their hearts, and this pride was as damaging to the people of Judah as the elements were to the belt. Eventually, that pride ruined them and rendered them completely useless to God.
This perfect picture of backsliding is as relevant today as it was for the Israelites. If we are not careful, we can allow the “elements” to damage our close personal relationship with God. We can start to feel pride about our salvation or about our good works, and pretty soon, we end up ruined and completely useless. Do not allow anything to come between you and God, because with Him, we are clean and new, but without Him, we are just a dirty belt.
12 “So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: May all your jars be filled with wine.’ And they will reply, ‘Of course! Jars are made to be filled with wine!’
13 “Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the Lord means: I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness—from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the Lord. I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.’”
A Warning against Pride
15 Listen and pay attention!
Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 5:21 (CEV)
You think you are clever and smart.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God
before it is too late.
Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you,
causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains.
For then, when you look for light,
you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.
Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
17 And if you still refuse to listen,
I will weep alone because of your pride.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.
Isaiah 5:21 (NIV)
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.
18 Say to the king and his mother,
“Come down from your thrones
and sit in the dust,
for your glorious crowns
will soon be snatched from your heads.”
19 The towns of the Negev will close their gates,
and no one will be able to open them.
The people of Judah will be taken away as captives.
All will be carried into exile.
20 Open up your eyes and see
the armies marching down from the north!
Where is your flock—
your beautiful flock—
that he gave you to care for?
21 What will you say when the Lord takes the allies you have cultivated
and appoints them as your rulers?
Pangs of anguish will grip you,
like those of a woman in labor!
22 You may ask yourself,
“Why is all this happening to me?”
It is because of your many sins!
That is why you have been stripped
and raped by invading armies.
23 Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?
Can a leopard take away its spots?
Neither can you start doing good,
for you have always done evil.
I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself, any more than a leopard can make its spots disappear. Oh, how I need to be redeemed by Jesus!
24 “I will scatter you like chaff
that is blown away by the desert winds.
25 This is your allotment,
the portion I have assigned to you,”
says the Lord,
“for you have forgotten me,
putting your trust in false gods.
26 I myself will strip you
and expose you to shame.
27 I have seen your adultery and lust,
and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills.
What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem!
How long before you are pure?”
It is not easy to be pure, to think all right thoughts, to look at others with love, to be who we think God wants us to be. We may struggle with feelings of not measuring up or of failure. But if we understand more clearly who we are in Christ, and what God sees when he looks at us– then our hearts are filled with peace and joy because of his unspeakably great love for us.
HERE is Big Daddy Weave and “Redeemed.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.