The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker


Lesson 14
SIGN OF THE LINEN GIRDLE

Text: JEREMIAH 13:1-27


INTRODUCTION:


  1. Jeremiah 13 has been described as a "parable in action."
  2. We see a few of these parables in the prophetic books, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel.
  3. Merrill Unger says, "Jeremiah's words had fallen on sin-deafened ears. Perhaps actions might speak louder" (Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament).
  4. Back in Jeremiah's day, a linen girdle (belt) was worn to bind up one's flowing robes (13:1).
  5. This linen girdle or belt speaks of service. Our Lord said in Luke 12:35, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning."
  6. The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth..."
  7. Peter said in I Peter 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind."
  8. The LORD told Jeremiah to go and get a linen girdle, then to put it on.  Furthermore he was told, "Put it not in water" (13:1).
  9. Jeremiah did as he was told (13:2).

 

I. THE LINEN GIRDLE WAS BURIED, AND IT WAS MARRED.

  1. The 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 Testament).
  2. The LORD told Jeremiah not to put it in water (13:1), emphasizing how the people had become dirty and soiled.
  3. 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).
  4. But after it was buried, it was marred and "it was profitable for nothing" (13:6, 7).
  5. This symbolizes the nation Israel being cast away and buried among the nations because of their disobedience (13:8-11).
  6. 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. 20:4-6).
  7. Cf. Jeremiah 13:17b -- "because the LORD's flock is carried away captive" (cf. 13:19).
  8. Cf. Jeremiah 13:20 -- "behold them that come from the north."
  9. 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.
  10. Then from Jeremiah 20:4 until 52:34, the last verse in the book, Babylon is mentioned 169 times.

 

II. THEY WERE GOOD FOR NOTHING (13:10).

  1. Why were they "good for nothing"?
  • They were "evil" (13:10).
  • They refused to hear God's words (13:10).
  • They walked in the imagination of their heart.
  • They walked after other gods.
  • They served other gods.
  • They worshiped other gods (13:10).
  1. The LORD said the people of Judah "shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing" (13:10).
  2. For one thing, the girdle would be "marred," and unfit to wear.
  3. It would be dirty, and this is the way the LORD saw Judah: dirty and good for nothing.  They were "profitable for nothing" (13:7).
  4. They were sinking deeper and deeper into sin (cf. 13:27).
  5. I 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.

 

III. THE PARABLE OF THE BROKEN BOTTLES (13:12)

  1. H.A. 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 to destruction."
  2. Verse 12 says, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine."
  3. Then 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).
  4. Then 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, 11).
  5. The 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).
  6. The bottles were filled with the wine of God's indignation, which would result in bewilderment in the face of sudden judgment (13:16).
  7. The 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).
  8. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
  9. 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 evil."
  10. 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."
  11. Jeremiah wept over their spiritual darkness and their stubborn refusal to repent (13:17).
  12. 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).
  13. Jehoiachin reigned for only three months, and then he was taken away captive into Babylon.
  14. Jerusalem would be invaded, and her sorrow would be like "a woman in travail" (13:21; cf. 4:31; 6:24).
  15. 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.
  16. Oftentimes, when the judgment of God comes down hard upon sinners, they complain and ask, "Why are these things happening to me?" (13:22).
  17. This is how Judah reacted to her chastening. Therefore the LORD had to expose her (13:22b).
  18. Verse 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."
  19. 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 Testament).
  20. Because of their wicked sin, the LORD would "scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness" (13:24).
  21. This was their just punishment because they refused to get right with God (13:25-27).

 

CONCLUSION:

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 gathering overhead."


The black clouds of doom are fast gathering over our heads too!



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