Lord, cause me to cling to You as a properly functioning sash.
Read JEREMIAH 13:1–17
A Linen Belt
13 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” 2 So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist.
3 Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: 4 “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me.
6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! 11 For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the Lord, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’
12 “Say to them: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ 13 then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’”
Threat of Captivity
15 Hear and pay attention,
do not be arrogant,
for the Lord has spoken.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God
before he brings the darkness,
before your feet stumble
on the darkening hills.
You hope for light,
but he will turn it to utter darkness
and change it to deep gloom.
17 If you do not listen,
I will weep in secret
because of your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly,
overflowing with tears,
because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
For God to refer to his own people as evil (10) is an eye opener; but worthy of consideration is why: a refusal to hear his words. What does this say of those today who despise the Bible or treat it as mere literature?
We are all different! It is encouraging to see how these differences are recognized in Scripture and to observe the varying methods used so that people who learn differently can understand what God is saying. I have to confess that I am at heart a “words and numbers” person. I actually like hearing the development of a logical argument and respond to organized verbal presentations. However, I also learn through art, drama and music.
Jeremiah is well aware that some people are turned off by long speeches and learn only when presented with practical illustrations or, especially, demonstrations. These types too are hearing God’s message, so God encourages Jeremiah to use drama. We are prone to thinking that outside-the-box messages are somehow unspiritual and certainly not appropriate to use in church, but Scripture in general and Jeremiah in particular reveal that God may not agree! Here we have both a drama and a word-picture.
A linen belt is purchased, worn, hidden away, and when reclaimed is ruined, fit only to be thrown away. A wineskin is a common part of life back then. We might say, “There is no point in bringing a flask not filled with a hot drink.” Obvious! The expected point might be that hot drinks will help us keep going, but the unexpected makes us take notice. The hot drink in this flask will be poured all over you and you will be badly burned! Or as Jeremiah puts it, the wine will make you so drunk that you will all be destroyed. In other words, only the method has changed, not the message. Unless Judah changes her ways, God will destroy her.
Reflect on a recent message you have heard, think of a different way that it could have been presented and ask God to give you creativity in communicating his Gospel.
Lord, thank You for divine warnings before Your punitive hand falls upon us.