The book of the prophet Jeremiah may have a reputation for being doom-laden, but it’s full of examples of God using thought-provoking dramas and visual aids. God instructs Jeremiah to do some very strange things (I feel rather sorry for him sometimes), but they always have the same essential purpose; to teach deep spiritual truths in a very accessible way.
When I sit under teaching, or indeed when I teach, I love visual aids. They seem to expand and explain a truth in the most heart-penetrating and profound way. Since God often uses this as a good method to get the point across, especially to those who seem deaf to His words, then it’s no wonder Jesus did the same. Think of ‘seeds’, ‘children’ and ‘bread’, for example.
Our verse today comes from a story about a pair of linen shorts (or maybe your bible says a sash or a loin-cloth). Whatever the garment Jeremiah had to buy a new one, wear it, but not wash it, and then take it to the Euphrates and hide it there in a hole, or crevice, in the rock. After many days, I suppose it was months, Jeremiah was told to re-find the garment. But, unsurprisingly, the damp and rot had attacked the garment and it was ‘ruined and no longer any good’ (verse 7). Now Jeremiah was to take the garment as an example to explain a profound and very serious word from God.
God explains to Jeremiah that, just as the garment was intended to be close to the owner, so His people were intended to cling closely to Him. But, they haven’t done so, and the inevitable consequence of them wandering off after other gods needs to be brought home to them. The result is rottenness and destruction.
Maybe this story sounds a bit comical (especially if you think about modern underwear), but the message is anything but amusing. God is full of love and He knows what’s best for His children, but if we’re proud, going our own way and refusing to obey His commands, it will surely lead us into decay. This rottenness will steal our purpose and destiny, as clearly as that linen garment was unfit for use, because it was totally ruined.
Prayer: Father God, we confess we often fail to cling closely to You and Your laws, as we should. In our arrogance, we often think we know better how to live our lives. We may even wander off down other paths, in search of security, success or significance. Today we turn from our self-serving ways, and ask You to forgive us, and protect us from the rotting and decay that comes when we find dark holes to reside in. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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