The ruined waistband — Jeremiah 13-15

It’s a tragedy, but it’s also a fact that sometimes we human beings go beyond the point of no return, become irredeemable. Much of Israel had arrived at that point in Jeremiah’s time and that is the theme of a lot of today’s reading

‘For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’ (Jeremiah 13:11) — This inspired parable revolves around a waistband, which to folks like us, from a different time and society, loses a little of it’s punch; but let me explain just a bit.There are two proposals for what the waistband is: 1) some believe it to be a form of ancient underwear, a loincloth, worn next to the skin, but 2) others believe it to be something like a sash to be worn like a belt, for binding the flowing robes tightly to the body but also for show. My personal opinion is that since God described it as representing Israel at first for “renown, for praise and for glory” (v.11) that what Jeremiah had in mind here is a sash worn on the outside of the clothing. Jeremiah was to buy and wear this sash. It was to be linen (v.1), the type of cloth associated with the holy priesthood and possibly point to the original holiness of Israel. The wearing of the sash, its tightness to the body was to represent Israel’s closeness with the LORD (v. 11). This sash, however, was not to be put in water or washed (v. 1). This would doubtlessly make the sash dirty — even filthy — after a few weeks or months. The dirtiness was to represent Israel’s dirtiness. But Jeremiah was then told to take this dirty waistband to the Euphrates (v. 4). There are commentators who locate Jeremiah’s “Euphrates” at a smaller stream much closer to Jeremiah’s home with a similar name. But seems to take some of the meaning out of the parable to go someplace other than the real Euphrates to let it rot — dirty Israel would be taken off to Babylon (the Euphrates being the major river traveling through it) and ruined — just like the waistband was. The point? Wash up (repent) and get clean before you have to rot in Babylon (or “you know where”).

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil. “Therefore I will scatter them like drifting straw To the desert wind. (Jeremiah 13:23, 24) — Some things are just unchangeable. We don’t want to believe that; I don’t want to believe that. I’d like to think that I’ll always have the chance to change, but there apparently does come a time when we are so enslaved that there is no redemption possible. The thing that I’d like you to make special note of here, however, is that it is God who is making such a call. I must be careful, we all must be careful not to write-off people that we think are “beyond the pale”. There have been people in my life that I thought incorrigible, a waste of my time to teach or work with — who really surprised me. And there have been people who’ve surprised me the other way, too. The important thing is to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5, NAS95).

Then the LORD said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go! “And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Those destined for death, to death; And those destined for the sword, to the sword; And those destined for famine, to famine; And those destined for captivity, to captivity.”’ (Jeremiah 15:1, 2) — This is saying something! If Moses and Samuel (the most influential intercessors Israel ever had) were to stand before God together and ask for God to change His mind about Israel, it would do no good. That’s how far these folks had gone from God’s grace.

We must ourselves be careful lest we reach a point of becoming irredeemable: For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. (Hebrews 10:26, 27, NAS95).

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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