For just as a loincloth clings to a man's waist, so I have made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to Me, declares the LORD, so that they might be My people for My renown and praise and glory. But they did not listen.
I. THE DIGNITY AND IDEAL CHARACTER OF GOD'S PEOPLE THUS SET FORTH. The linen girdle worn by the priests was a portion of their appointed and consecrated garments. It represented, therefore, the idea of consecration arising from nearness and closeness. They were highly favored amongst the nations as being brought into immediate relation with Jehovah. "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" (Ver. 11). And as the girdle, by bracing the body, becomes a means of strength, so Israel was to be the power of God amongst the nations of the world. They were to be as kings and priests before God, to show forth his righteousness and to execute his will.
II. THE CONDITION UPON WHICH THESE HAVE TO BE MAINTAINED. Simply because they had been so designed in the eternal purpose. They had no security for this position being retained. It would not do for them to rely upon prestige. With spiritual strength relaxed and moral pretty lost, they were no longer fit for the honorable service to which they had been called. It was only as their spiritual life rose to the height of their calling, and maintained itself from age to age by means of Divine truth and continual exercise of faith, that they could expect to retain their privileges. But this Israel was far from seeing. She required, therefore, to be taught the truth of it by experience, and nothing would do this better than that which the symbol suggested. Their outward circumstances and position would be made to correspond with their inward character, so that all men, and even they themselves, would cease to be deceived. This is ever the order of the Divine government. He will set our secret sins in the light of his countenance.
II. THE MESSENGER OF GOD SHOULD SPARE NO EFFORT TO EMBODY AND ENFORCE THE TRUTH HE HAS TO DECLARE. Whether Ephrath in Israel or Euphrates was meant, a journey of considerable length had to be taken, and much trouble was involved. But the prophet did not grudge this if thereby he might appeal through the imagination the more forcibly to the heart of his people. So sometimes ancient prophets had to submit to themselves being made signs that were spoken against. There can be no question that the manner adopted by the prophet of illustrating his message was most effective and striking. And it was clear even to the simplest understanding. An illustrative style of discourse is carefully to be distinguished from a florid one; and anything which conveys more vivid impressions to one's self is more likely to add impressiveness and vivid force to what one has to say to others. This going to Euphrates on the part of the prophet was quite an important business, but it was justified by its result. And so preachers should spare no pains to link the truth of God with the actions, the experiences, and the interests of men. - M.
This evil people which refuse to hear My words.I. SENSATIONAL PREACHING: IN WHAT SENSE TO BE APPROVED. The style of this teaching of Jeremiah looks sensational. He is bidden to take a fine, new linen girdle — a most important and ornamental part of an Oriental gentleman's garments — and bury it for a time near the Euphrates. Taking it up afterwards, he was to exhibit it to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, with all the marks of injury and decay upon it, as a sign and type of the decline and decay that the Lord would bring on them in Babylon, when, parted from Him to whom they had been bound as a girdle to a man's body, they should be buried under the oppression and contempt of their proud and domineering captors.
II. REJECTION OF THE DIVINE WORD.
1. Even the most highly favoured persons may reject God's Word.
2. The transgressors in such cases prefer their own imagination to God's revelations. Religion says to God, "Thy will be done." The natural heart says, "My will be done" — "Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?"
3. The moral influence of such perverseness is bad, progressively bad. Having cast off God, the human nature cannot stand up alone. It needs a support. It must worship. So it goes after other, and of course false, gods. Every sin has three distinct effects, apart from the punishment of the future:(1) It depraves and deteriorates the nature that sins. The brain is not broken, but strained; the marble is not fractured, but the eye of omniscience sees the flaw.(2) It familiarises with evil and goes so far towards making an evil habit.(3) It renders some other sin not only easier, but apparently necessary. "Having done one thing," says the sinner, "of course I had to do the other."
4. The effect of rejecting God's Word is lamentable in the extreme. If the fire of Divine anger burnt up that vine which He had planted, how will it be with the common tree of the forest?
III. BY WHOM IS THE WORD OF THE LORD REJECTED?
1. In a certain strict and literal sense every unbeliever is an infidel, i.e. he is without faith. But many are without faith who yet assent to the general truths of God's Word. Many infidels have made it their own interest to impugn and deny Divine revelation. A man has broken its precepts — perhaps suffered socially in consequence — has not repented, but only been embittered, begins to count those who censure or condemn him first bigoted, narrow-minded, then pharisaical, and hypocritical or fanatical. They justify their action by the Scriptures, and he begins to transfer his dislike to the Scriptures, feels a pleasure in any doubt cast on them, flatters himself that to weaken them is to strengthen his case, and that contempt poured on them is respect won back for him. Hence the bitterest scoffers have often been the religiously trained sinners.
2. Sceptics are included among the rejecters of God's Word. Not that they are necessarily irreligious, or deniers of a Divine Being and of obligation to Him; but they deny the Scriptures as an authoritative revelation from Him and make nature a sufficient teacher.
3. If I include Romanism among the rejecters of God's Word, it must be with a qualification. That system admits the inspiration, Divine origin, and partial authority of God's Word, and so far as it can appeal to Scripture does so. Its sins in this regard are:(1) Putting up beside the Word tradition, which, like that of the Pharisees, makes the Word of God of no effect.(2) Making the authorisation of the Scripture depend on the Church, and constituting the Church the only expounder of Scripture.(3) And following from this, she withholds the Scriptures from her people.
4. The indifferent and unbelieving reject God's Word. You have heard it explained, read it, had it urged on you by beloved ones, now praising God in the rest of the saints. Have you believed it? Received Christ? Are you resting on Him? Doing His will? For if not, your condemnation is doubly sure.
(John Hall, D. D.)
1. Unto His person for favour.
2. Unto His Word for direction and teaching.
3. Unto His promise for encouragement.
4. Unto His worship for devotion.
II. ISRAEL AND JUDAH WERE THEN A PRAISE AND GLORY TO JEHOVAH. A girdle of strength and honour before the nations.
1. As opposed to the idolatries of the world.
2. As expressing obedience to Divine law.
3. As exhibiting the beneficial effects of true religion.
III. ISRAEL AND JUDAH BECAME FAITHLESS AND DISOBEDIENT.
1. An evil people refusing to hear the Word.
2. A stubborn people going their own way.
3. A deluded people in vain imaginations.
4. An idolatrous people, like the nations less favoured, going after other gods to serve and worship them.
IV. ISRAEL AND JUDAH BECOMING FAITHLESS, BECAME ALSO WEAK AND WORTHLESS. Went from prominence to obscurity, from freedom to captivity, from privilege to punishment.
Christian Commonwealth.In Trinidad there are small oysters to be found that grow upon trees, or rather cluster round the roots of trees, in the river mouths. The little bivalves are so firmly attached that it is usual to saw down the trees in order to obtain the oysters, and such an attachment is typical of the ideal life of a Christian. He should love the Lord his God, and obey His voice, that he may cleave unto Him. God, who is the source of all life, will indeed be his life and the light of his days. As the strength of the tree is placed at the disposal of the oyster, so is the omnipotence of God offered to all who will trust Him.
Which is good for nothing.I. DWELL UPON A PAINFUL FACT. All was done for them that could be, and yet good for nothing.
II. POINT OUT THE CAUSE OF THEIR SAD CONDITION.
1. They refused to hear the Word of the Lord.
2. They followed the imagination of their hearts.
3. They became idolaters.
III. SHOW WHAT THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN AS A PEOPLE.
1. Separated from the nations as peculiarly the people of God.
2. Before the nations for the glory of Jehovah, as opposed to idols.
3. Among the nations as witnesses and examples.
IV. PROCLAIM SOME UNIVERSAL TRUTHS.
1. Refusing to hear God's Word is proof that the people are all evil people.
2. An evil people will substitute a false worship for that which is true.
3. A false worship will produce and foster an erroneous religious life.
4. A people walking according to the imagination of their own hearts must be useless to themselves, to the world, to the Church, or to God.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
PlacesEuphrates River, Jerusalem, Negeb
TopicsAffirmation, Band, Beauty, Belt, Body, Bound, Caused, Cleave, Cleaves, Cleaveth, Cling, Clings, Declares, Ear, Girdle, Glory, Goes, Hearken, Hearkened, Honor, Household, Judah, Listen, Listened, Loins, Man's, Praise, Renown, Round, Says, Tightly, United, Waist, Waistband, Waistcloth
Outline1. By the type of a linen belt, hidden at Euphrates,
9. God prefigures the destruction of his people.
12. By the parable of bottles filled with wine he foretells their drunkenness in misery.
15. He exhorts to prevent their future judgments.
22. He shows their abominations are the cause thereof.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJeremiah 13:11
LibraryAn Impossibility Made Possible
'Can the Ethiopian change his skin?'--JER. xiii. 23. 'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.'--2 COR. v. 17. 'Behold, I make all things new.'--REV. xxi. 5. Put these three texts together. The first is a despairing question to which experience gives only too sad and decisive a negative answer. It is the answer of many people who tell us that character must be eternal, and of many a baffled man who says, 'It is of no use--I have tried and can do nothing.' The second text is the grand Christian …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Notion of Inability.
On Earthly Things
The Cavils of the Pharisees Concerning Purification, and the Teaching of the Lord Concerning Purity - the Traditions Concerning Hand-Washing' and Vows. '
On the Animals
Covenanting Confers Obligation.
Meditations on the Hindrances which Keep Back a Sinner from the Practice of Piety.
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