Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” The people and their leaders persisted in their arrogance, their idolatry and their assimilation of the sinful practices of the wicked nations around them to such an extent that God was forced to deal severely with their unfaithfulness. They lacked the discernment and humility to understand the wrong they were doing and were stubborn hearted towards God’s call for them to repent.
In Jeremiah 13:1-11 we see God use the imagery of a linen belt and show Jeremiah that as the people continue to rebel against Him with no sign of repentance, He will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.
This passage can be read in its entirety here.
Notice that God’s intent is the ruin of the sin, and that sin was pride. Pride is described as ‘the feeling of pleasure or deep satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements. God was no more their only focus of worship and glory anymore, and in His place were other gods.
Pride was a central factor in the downfall of Lucifer (Satan) [Ezekiel 28:17]. When there is ever a notion where we tend to place ourselves or anything else before our creator, deep down is an element of pride that causes us to not want to submit to God and resist Him.
In these 11 verses, God speaks to Jeremiah four times. God directs Jeremiah in the mission that is entrusted to him.
He is a God who speaks – Are we listening to the voice of God like how Jeremiah did?
God desires to and communicates to us through different ways – do we take the time to listen?
He directs us every step of the way – do we pay heed or march on to our own thoughts and wisdom?
These verses also remind us that He is a Holy God who does not excuse Sin. But also, that He is a forgiving God. His ultimate desire was for His people to listen, repent and turn back to Him.
Obedience is what we see in Jeremiah here. God does not give clarity initially to the why of His directive, but that did not put a pause on Jeremiah’s obedience.
God directed him in steps, without laying out the entire plan – this encourages us to take that step with faith in obedience reflecting a trust in a Sovereign God and our Heavenly Father.
Jeremiah bought the Linen belt, wore it, then hid it and eventually dug it out, all under the guidance and direction of the Lord (verses 1-6).
I was drawn to look at the four action words here that Jeremiah followed and connect it to being obedient and listening to God (as Jeremiah did) and see what we can glean from it.
Bought – At times, following God’s leading and being obedient to Him will cost us. It can cost us our time, our comfort, our convenience, our resources, our relationships or our friendships.
Reflect on what you are willing to give up, so as to be and stay obedient to God?
Wore – There are times when being obedient to God will require us to embody the word. Times when we have to ensure that our faith is known as the reason why we make certain choices – to not gossip, to be morally fair and right, to treat everyone equally. It is not something we go yelling out on the streets about, but like the linen belt, when worn, it is part of who we are – and that is how we must embody our faith.
Hid – Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.” Meditate and hide His words and His promises deep within your hearts. We have to make time for God, read scripture, pray, and memorise God’s word, so that it stays with us and will give us the strength to be obedient through all circumstances and we can reflect that to others.
Dug – Digging takes some effort. There are times when being obedient to God will require some effort on our part for the word of God to be revealed to those around us. Being there for someone, acts of help, kindness, forgiveness, love and compassion are not the easiest thing to carry out but often they help us show someone, Christ’s love.
The belt symbolised how Israel and Judah were bound to God by Him (verse 11).
For what purpose? – God says, to be my people for my renown, praise and honour (verse 11).
The Lord had purposed for His people to be bound to Him, bringing Him Glory. But they became tarnished and polluted by surrounding influences. Linen was a material worn by priests – Leviticus 16:4 “He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.” And Israel was to be a priestly nation for the Lord – Exodus 19:6 “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
When we accept Jesus as our saviour, He binds us to Him. And our purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do. We are to be His people – that should be our identity, and it should be what others recognize us by. When we focus on ourselves more than Jesus, listening to Him gets tough and doing what He says becomes almost impossible. We can’t praise God when we are constantly praising ourselves.
What were the people’s downfall?
- Pride – following the dictates of their own heart
- Serving other gods
- Refusing to hear God
The belt when worn – symbolised being bound to God and while being bound to HIM, we live in our true identity, we serve our purpose, we add to the glory of God and rest under His protection.
The belt when in the crevice in the rocks – As it says in verse 7 was eventually ruined and completely useless. When separated from God, the things of this world can surround, press upon us and influence us. We are separated from our refuge and our fortress. And without the wisdom, guidance and conviction of the Spirit, we lose what God designed and purposed us to be, and we can impart nothing towards His Kingdom purposes because without Him we are useless.
It is God who binds us to Him but what is our part to remain bound to God
- Serve God and Worship Him only
- Humble ourselves
May we like Jeremiah listen to the voice of God and trust Him even if we do not know the why or what is to come. May we not allow pride to be our motivation but rather may all that we do, be for Him and for His glory. May we rest in the knowledge that we are His and let it be known as the reason for all that we do. May we reflect on anything that we might prioritise before God, be it a relationship, self, work, entertainment or anything else. And when we falter Lord, may we humble ourselves, repent and turn to you God. And may our actions, choices and the desires of our hearts not cause us to be separated from you Lord, but remain bound to you.