Monday, July 13, 2015

Sign Of The Rotten Sash

Jeremiah 13:1-27

“Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.  So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.  And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.  So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.  Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.” (Jeremiah 13:1-7)

God commanded Jeremiah to purchase a linen belt or sash and wear it but not to wash it at all.  After he had worn it for a time, he was to take it several hundreds of mile to the Euphrates River and hide it in a hole in the rocks by the river.  Sometime later God told him to go back and get the sash.  When he did, he discovered that the moisture had caused the cloth to rot and be discolored to such a degree that it was no longer useable. 

“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.  This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.” (Jeremiah 13:8-11)

The girdle or belt was to be a portrayal of Judah.  Just as Jeremiah had drawn the sash tight around his waist, God had drawn Judah close to himself.  Separated from Jeremiah, the belt had decayed in the moisture and was no longer fit for use.  In a similar fashion, Judah had separated themselves from God, involving themselves in sin until they were no longer fit to be close to him.    The belt originally was purchased as a useful addition to the clothing which would look good and compliment the wearer’s appearance, but the rotten one did not, and Judah was the same way.  There is no longer anything for them to be proud of. 

“Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?  Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.  And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.” (Jeremiah 13:12-14)

Just as a normal woman would not keep all the cans and food containers unless they have food in them, God said every container was to be filled.  The people would naturally respond that they understood why that was true.  Jeremiah was then to explain that they were like empty containers.  He would fill them again and destroy those that leaked.  When testing and disposing of the useless containers, their position in the nation would not make any more difference than the design printed on the defective container. 

“Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.  Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.  But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.” (Jeremiah 13:15-17)

If they would give up their pride and listen, correcting the problems before he began to judge and they started to stumble and or needed help, God would turn judgment away and they would be saved from destruction.  If they refused, like a woman cleaning out her cabinets and finding some treasured keepsake but realizing it was no longer worth keeping, God might weep at throwing it out, but he has no choice. 

“Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.  The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.  Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?  What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail?” (Jeremiah 13:18-21)

Jeremiah is to warn the rulers, the king and queen, that their kingdom is going to be destroyed. And they will be left with no power or recognition.  Their southernmost cities will be deserted and closed up and all the people taken away as slaves,  After the defeat of the Assyrians, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar will turn south and take away all their subjects that God had given them to lead and teach.  What can they say when he punishes them for having taught them to focus on gaining power and it destroys them?

“And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.  Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.  Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.  This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.  Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear.  I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?” (Jeremiah 13;22-27)

Like people today the Jews would complain, asking why they are having such problems and refusing recognize that the problems are the result of their own actions.  Their sin has become such a habit that breaking it will be almost as hard as it would be for a black man to change his skin color or for a leopard to change its spots.  The judgment and suffering they will experience is what they receive from God for their actions. 

They have turned their backs on God, chasing other gods and believing their lies.  Like a husband who catches his wife in bed with her lover, God knows just what is going on and they will be embarrassed by being caught in such a state.  At that point, what will it take to save their marriage?

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