Morning Light – Jeremiah 13

Today: [Jeremiah 13] The Dirty Underwear Prophecy! In this chapter, God tells Jeremiah to wear an unwashed undergarment until it is so soiled it is good for nothing. What would you do if God instructed you to do such a thing? In this instance God was speaking through the prophet about the soiled pride of the nation of Judah. Would you be capable of obeying God in some distasteful way should He require it of you? This chapter sets a precedent that God can and does often call upon us to engage in the difficult and the extreme in pursuit of what obedience to Him looks like.
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[Jer 13:1-27 KJV] 1 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. 2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put [it] on my loins. 3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, 4 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. 5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. 6 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. 7 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.
In the beginning of this chapter God tells Jeremiah to perform a prophetic act. Prophetic acts are a unique feature of the office of the prophet throughout both the old and the new testaments. Here is an incomplete list of some of the prophetic acts in the scripture:
1.) Elisha instructed Joash to fire arrows out of a window as a prophetic act symbolizing the king’s victory over his enemies.
2.) Ezekiel was commanded to lay on one side and then the other for over 2 years and then another time to cut his hair off and set it on fire.
3.) Isaiah was instructed to go in public naked from the waist down as a statement predicting the coming captivity of the people from Jerusalem.
4.) In the New Testament, the prophet Agabus took Paul’s girdle and tied his own hands with it symbolizing the fact that Paul would be arrested and imprisoned in Jerusalem.
These are just a few of the unusual prophetic acts that God called upon His prophets to perform in order to make certain statements and drive home their messages to the people. In the example of Agubas and Paul’s girdle we can surmise that Agabus was familiar with the story of Jeremiah and was emulating the use of a girdle as a depiction of captivity as Jeremiah predicts the coming captivity and humiliation of the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. The question before those of us that are called to prophetic ministry is – are you willing to be used of God in this unusual manner? Would you be willing to do something at the instruction of God that would otherwise be a humiliating and foolish action?
8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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? 13 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. 14 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. 15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. 16 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. 17 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.
After obeying the Lord in the prophetic acting regarding the girdle the Father explains to Jeremiah and Jeremiah commits to writing what is intended by his action. By wearing the girdle for some time without washing it, and then burying in the river bank, God is saying that as the people of Jerusalem and Judah have made themselves unclean that they will be buried in the foreign land of Babylon until their pride is destroyed and of no more value to them.
What of the day that we live in? The pride of the people of Judah lie in the fact that they compromised the worship of the one, true God with pagan practices. They ignored the finer points of the law regarding agriculture and the observances of letting the land lay fallow every seven years. They also refused to alleviate the poor through the observance of the Jubilee and many such violations of the law of Moses. Now, as New Testament believers we are not bound to adhere to Mosaic law. Because of this and the evolution of Christian culture into the modern day the expectations of God upon us as a people have been reduced to the mere mandate of simply being sincere and going to the church of your choice. Is this safe? If we believe that God exists and that He has expectations upon us as believers – do we not take our lives in our hands to simply reinvent our own cultural concepts of what God requires of us without any consultation of the scripture?
What does God require of a New Testament believer? In Romans 13:10 Paul summed up the most basic statement of New Testament faith in saying “love is the fulfillment of the law…” This is a comparative challenge to modern Christian culture that is not known for its loving and caring disposition toward its own adherents or those that are without. Jesus said in John 13:35 that we would be known as His disciples by our love one for another. Known by whom? By men or by God? If we as a people do not walk in love, and God IS love (1 John 4:8) – do we not estrange ourselves from the God we claim to serve? There are many aspects of New Testament doctrine we can consider in reference to living a godly life but we must begin and end with the mandate of walking in love toward one another and those outside of Christ.
18 Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, [even] the crown of your glory. 19 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. 20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where [is] the flock [that] was given thee, thy beautiful flock? 21 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? 22 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. 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [then] may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. 24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness. 25 This [is] thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. 26 Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. 27 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]?
In verse 18 the prophet is commanded by God to humiliate and rebuke the king and queen of Jerusalem. King Zedekiah was merely a puppet king at this time protected by an outside power. The prophet warns Zedekiah that the foreign powers backing him would be no protection against the invasion of the Babylonians. He tells the king that every city of the southern kingdom will be boarded up and made empty. He directs the king’s attention to the desolate lands to the north where the northern tribes of Israel have now been emptied from the land as a flock driven from the pasture.
In verse 22 the Lord warns the king that his nakedness and vulnerability will be made evident to all and that he would go bare foot into captivity to Babylon. In answer to the unspoken question as to why this will take place Jeremiah asks the question can the leopard change its spots? Outside of divine grace human nature is human nature and will dial itself down to the lowest common denominator of sin and rebellion every time. Because the people and the king have rejected God’s counsel and leading they will be scattered as stubble that is carried by the wind into the wilderness. Why would God do this? Remember in Genesis 6 when God confounded the people’s languages at Babel? The point was to protect them from themselves in the enlargement of a greater evil. Why did God drive Adam and Eve from the garden? To keep them from eating of the tree of life and living forever in a fallen state, separate from God.
The chapter ends with a denunciation of the adulteries of the people against God and a plaintive cry for the city once more to return to God and be made clean. You might be going through something in your life and feel defiled and defeated. You might not have any idea how to back yourself out of a difficult situation. What is the answer? We begin – whether it makes sense to the natural mind or not – with the word of God. In John 15:3 Jesus said we are clean through the word that He speaks to us. Satan’s great plan against the people of God is to keep them from the scriptures at any cost. The word of God is a cleansing agent in your life. It is a purgative that works with detergent effect on those things in our lives that are displeasing to God. Give yourself over to the word in the midst of your struggle. It may be difficult for you to see the relevance, as it was to those to whom Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke to – but the end thereof will be deliverance, both inwardly in your heart from sin and outwardly from the ultimate difficulty and struggle your may be facing.

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