Scripture reading – Jeremiah 13

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Jeremiah’s pronouncement of God’s imminent judgment continued in Jeremiah 13, even as he pleaded with Judah to repent of that nation’s sins and turn to the LORD.

Various symbols in today’s Scripture reading are interpreted differently; however, one overriding message is clear: judgment was at hand, and the instrument of God’s judgment would come out of the north (historically, we know that nation was Babylon, Jeremiah 13:20). I will suggest eight pictures or symbols of judgment recorded in Jeremiah 13.

A soiled girdle represented the first picture of sinful Judah (Jeremiah 13:1-11). The prophet was commanded to purchase and wear a girdle (in essence, a servant’s cloth that would be wrapped around the waist, 13:1-2). The LORD commanded Jeremiah to hide the girdle “in a hole of the rock” at the Euphrates River (13:3-5). There are various conjectures if this is the same Euphrates that was 350 miles distance or a local river that, in the Hebrew language, went by the same name. The LORD came a third time and told Jeremiah to retrieve the girdle, which he found filthy and unfit to wear (13:6-8).

The interpretation of the girdle was that the LORD was going to soil and bring to ruin Judah’s sinful pride. Describing the nation as “evil people,” Jeremiah asserted they had rejected God’s Word, were stubborn, and worshipped idols (Jeremiah 13:10). Therefore, Judah had become a soiled girdle and was “good for nothing” (Jeremiah 13:11). The nation had broken its covenant with the LORD and failed to bring praise and glory to His name (Jeremiah 13:12).

Drunkenness marked the second picture of Judah’s failure and served as a warning that none of Judah’s leaders (kings, priests, and prophets) would be spared God’s wrath (Jeremiah 13:12-14). Light turning to darkness was a third picture of impending judgment if the people did not humble themselves and honor and glorify the LORD (13:15-16). Jeremiah warned that Judah would be taken into captivity by a nation “come from the north” if the country did not repent (13:18-20).

an Ethiopian cannot change his skin color nor a leopard his spots

The fourth picture of Judah’s troubles was a woman in the pangs of childbirth (Jeremiah 13:21). A woman raped and humiliated was the fifth portrait of God’s judgment and foretold how Judah would be shamed and humiliated if the people failed to repent (Jeremiah 13:22). The sixth picture served as a warning that Judah’s wickedness was so great that it was too late and too far gone to repent, for an Ethiopian cannot change his skin color nor a leopard his spots (Jeremiah 13:23). The picture of chaff being blown about as nothing served as a reminder that in Judah’s wicked state the nation was useless to the LORD (13:24-25).

Our Bible study concludes with the portrait of a prostitute serving as the eighth and final reminder of Judah’s wickedness and shame (Jeremiah 13:26-27). Jeremiah warned that the heathen nations would see Judah’s shame, that being her sexual and spiritual immorality.

Knowing God’s judgment was imminent; the prophet cried, “Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?” (Jeremiah 13:27)

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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