The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
SIGN OF THE LINEN GIRDLE
- Jeremiah 13 has
been described as a "parable in action."
- We see a few of
these parables in the prophetic books, such as Isaiah and
- Merrill Unger
says, "Jeremiah's words had fallen on sin-deafened ears. Perhaps actions might speak
louder" (Unger's Commentary on the Old
- Back in
Jeremiah's day, a linen girdle (belt) was worn to bind up one's flowing robes
- This linen
girdle or belt speaks of service. Our Lord said in Luke 12:35, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights
apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt
about with truth..."
said in I Peter 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your
LORD told Jeremiah to go and get a linen girdle, then to put it on. Furthermore he was told, "Put it not in
- Jeremiah did as he was told
THE LINEN GIRDLE WAS BURIED, AND IT WAS
key to understanding the symbolism behind the story is found in verse 11. One commentator said the linen girdle
"symbolized the pristine purity of the nation in intimate fellowship with
Jehovah" (J.M. Meyers, cited by Merrill Unger, Unger's Commentary on the Old
LORD told Jeremiah not to put it in water (13:1), emphasizing how the people had
become dirty and soiled.
- The girdle was
unsoiled before Jeremiah buried it by the Euphrates River (13:3-5). Some commentators do not think Jeremiah
actually traveled all the way to the Euphrates River but it is clear that he
actually did (cf. 13:4-7).
- But after it
was buried, it was marred and "it was profitable for nothing" (13:6, 7).
- This symbolizes
the nation Israel being cast away and buried among the nations because of their
- It is
interesting that the prophet was told to bury the linen girdle by the Euphrates
River, because that is where the Jews would soon be taken into captivity (cf.
- Cf. Jeremiah 13:17b -- "because
the LORD's flock is carried away captive" (cf. 13:19).
Jeremiah 13:20 -- "behold them that come from the
- So far
in our study in the book of Jeremiah, we have seen many warnings about an enemy
invading from the north (1:13-15; 3:18; 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22), but Babylon is not
referred to specifically until chapter 20.
- Then from Jeremiah 20:4 until 52:34, the last verse in
the book, Babylon is mentioned 169 times.
THEY WERE GOOD FOR NOTHING
- Why were they
"good for nothing"?
- They were "evil" (13:10).
- They refused to hear God's words
- They walked in the imagination of their
- They walked after other gods.
- They served other gods.
- They worshiped other gods
LORD said the people of Judah "shall even be as this girdle, which is good for
one thing, the girdle would be "marred," and unfit to wear.
would be dirty, and this is the way the LORD saw Judah: dirty and good for
nothing. They were "profitable for
were sinking deeper and deeper into sin (cf. 13:27).
wonder how the Lord sees the USA today?
We are not "good for nothing" as long as we continue to support Israel,
but our support has been weakening the past few years.
THE PARABLE OF THE BROKEN BOTTLES
Jeremiah wept over their spiritual darkness and their
stubborn refusal to repent (13:17).
The king and queen were also very proud, so Jeremiah
says in verse 18, "Humble yourselves."
The king and queen at this time was Jehoiachin and his mother, Nehushta
(II Kings 24:8-20).
Jehoiachin reigned for only three months, and then he
was taken away captive into Babylon.
Jerusalem would be invaded, and her sorrow would be
like "a woman in travail" (13:21; cf.
The idea behind the word "captains" (13:21) is "friends"
or "allies." Judah looked to
their heathen neighbors for help rather than looking to the LORD.
Oftentimes, when the judgment of God comes down hard
upon sinners, they complain and ask, "Why are these things happening to me?"
is how Judah reacted to her chastening. Therefore the LORD had to expose her
23 illustrates the enslaving power of sin. Someone said,
"Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a
character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny."
Merrill Unger said, "It is just as impossible (apart
from God's grace) for people who cultivate sin, that is, those who have been
'hooked by evil', to do good" (Unger's Commentary on the Old
Because of their wicked sin, the LORD would "scatter
them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness"
This was their just punishment because they refused to
get right with God (13:25-27).
Ironside says, "By the parable of the bottle their emptiness is set forth (vs.
12). They shall be filled, not with the joy of the Lord, but with the wine of
strong delusion, which will make them drunk with self confidence and lead them
12 says, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with
the LORD told Jeremiah, "And they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know
that every bottle shall be filled with wine?" (13:12).
the LORD explained the symbolism behind the bottles of wine. The LORD was going to "dash them one
against another" and destroy them (13:13, 14; cf. 19:10,
people of Judah were drunkards.
Here the LORD uses their drunkenness as a symbol of the wine of God's
wrath (cf. 25:15-17; 51:7).
bottles were filled with the wine of God's indignation, which would result in
bewilderment in the face of sudden judgment (13:16).
Lord would dash them and break them because of their pride. "Thus saith the LORD, After this manner
will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem" (13:9;
cf. 13:16, 17).
- Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goeth before destruction,
and an haughty spirit before a fall."
- They rejected the light and so they were given up to
judicial darkness (13:16). John 3:19 says, "men
loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were
- In Ephesians 4:18 we read of sinners
having their understanding darkened, "being
alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of
the blindness of their heart."
Referring to verses 26 and 27, H.A. Ironside said, "Sin
had made them as an utterly reprobate and loathsome adulteress, whose shame was
to be openly manifested. Idolatry had been their ruin. 'Woe unto thee, O
Jerusalem!' he cries; but because God is gracious and long-suffering still, he
entreats, 'Wilt thou not be made clean?
When shall it once be?'
Alas, alas, they were turning away in their folly from
the only One who could cleanse them, and the black clouds of doom were fast
The black clouds of doom are fast gathering over our