Turning Away From God
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. 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.a 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.
May I take you back in time to a prophet and priest named, Jeremiah? His ministry was extremely difficult and lasted for over forty years. He endured rejection, starvation, prison, dungeons and death threats for one purpose, it was God’s will. He never married, had children, or enjoyed a home life. His Devine calling was to warn the people of Judah that judgment was coming, if they did not obey God. They had turned their hearts away from the truth of the Word of God and from the prophet of God.
Jeremiah taught by using many object lessons and in chapter 13, God tells Jeremiah to go and put on a linen girdle. This linen girdle was an undergarment, and was not to be taken off or washed. The Lord had Jeremiah take the undergarment 200 miles away, traveling by foot, to the Euphrates River. He was told to bury the girdle in the cleft of a rock and then return to the city of Jerusalem. After an allotted time, God told Jeremiah to return to the rock and dig up the linen girdle. The garment was filthy and over time had begun to rot. God likens Judah to the defiled linen girdle; dirty, marred and totally worthless in the sight of God.
Judah, God’s beloved people, had denied God and invented false religion. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). When the people of Judah did not heed to the words of Jeremiah, he wept for them and was known as the “Weeping Prophet.” (Could it be that Jeremiah wept the tears of God for the people He loved so much?) Throughout the book of Jeremiah he preaches, begs, pleads and weeps for God’s people to listen. He proclaims that destruction will come upon them and they will be taken into captivity by their enemies. They never take into consideration the words of Jeremiah and consequently, their beloved city is destroyed, the temple left in ruins, and the Babylonian empire takes them captive.
The book of Lamentations, also written by Jeremiah, tells us that God’s mercies and compassions are new every morning and His lovingkindnesses, God’s gracious love, will never cease (Lamentations 3:22-23). How great is His faithfulness toward us, yet, we turn away from Him and go our own way. Jeremiah reminds us of God’s faithfulness in keeping all of His promises according to His truthful and steadfast character. It is God’s justice that is the basis for His judgment against disobedience and unfortunately, Judah did not adhere to God’s Word. The solution to Judah’s judgment was to repent and obey God. The solution to our judgment is the same. We are to look to God for forgiveness with a repentant, contrite heart.
Thought: Jeremiah had a heart for the people of Judah–––mourning and weeping for them in their sinful state. We, too, are to mourn and weep for those who have turned their hearts against God and who are dead in their trespasses and sins. This is a reminder to us of the total sinfulness from which we have been redeemed. We should willingly, prayerfully, and faithfully share the wonderful gospel message of Christ with those who are lost and those who have turned their hearts away from God.