Jeremiah Part IV: Parables & Prophecy

100_1357The Ruined Loin Cloth

Thus says the LORD to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth [underwear] and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water [?].” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist. And the word of the LORD came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And after many days the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “Thus says the LORD: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen. Jeremiah 13:1-11

How would you like your nation or your people compared to that of a spoiled loincloth? The scrap of cloth that hangs about Tarzan’s waist? God was angry at His people for their sin, their worship of idols, and their stubbornness to repent.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin
or the leopard his spots?
Then also you can do good
who are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23

We must be careful not to become accustomed to evil. Not to become desensitized. For example, thinking it’s okay to watch any rated R movie that’s out there, because it’s just a film, it won’t affect us, and we’re man enough to see the violence in them. Guys, sin is sin—it corrupts. It has nothing to do if you’re weak or man enough to see the wrongness and cruelty in the movie. I personally believe, that most movies rated R should not be seen, hence the high rating. That there’s just too much junk in them we don’t need to expose ourselves to. (There are a few rated R exceptions, such as The Passion of the Christ, but not many.) Yes, there are many more serious ways in which we can become accustomed to evil; however, I believe this is one that is easily accessible, and overlooked.

No, we can’t completely avoid being around sin, and banish ourselves to be hermits out in the middle of nowhere or become monks at a monastery. But we must be careful what we expose ourselves to, and how we let it affect us. We are the light of the world; therefore, we shouldn’t leave the muck, but shine through it.

And those who are in wrong, who have been doing evil for so long, no this verse does not condemn them to Hell by predestination—for the blood of Christ is for all—but it describes how hard it is to break a lifestyle of sin. Imagine yourself trying to break all of your strongest habits. How easy would it be?

The Spoiled Clay

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:  “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.”  So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ Jeremiah 18:1-12

Another warning of destruction—and yet the people still refuse to repent.

The Broken Flask

Thus says the LORD, “Go, buy a potter’s earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests,and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Ba’al to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Ba’al, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind—therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’

“Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury. Thus will I do to this place, declares the LORD, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.’” Jeremiah 19:1-13

The Good and the Bad Figs

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

“But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.” Jeremiah 24

God gave His people warning, after warning, after warning. In Jeremiah 27, the Lord told Jeremiah to make himself a yoke—a tool which the people of that time strapped around a pair of oxen, so the beats together could pull a heavy load—and carry it across his neck to symbolize the heavy weight that Nebuchadnezzar would put on them. Yet Hananiah, a false prophet, broke Jeremiah’s yoke and lied to the people, saying that after two years the Lord would break their yoke (Jeremiah later returned with a yoke of iron that the prophet could not break). In Jeremiah 36, the Lord told Jeremiah to write on a scroll all the prophecies that He had spoken to him, and have it read to the people. Yet as a man read this scroll to the king of Judah, the king would cut a piece of it off, and cast it into the flames.

However, despite all of this evil. Despite all this sadness of the Israelites ignoring their God–there is hope. God tells Jeremiah one of the most powerful prophecies of all times:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:5-6

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

In the midst of all their sin, God gives them the ultimate hope. The ‘righteous branch’—this ‘new covenant’—He gives them the promise of the Messiah! The one who would wash away all of our sins! The promise—of Jesus!

So remember, in the midst of your sin, you are never too far from Him—forgiveness is never too far away. All you have to do is repent, and He will welcome you with open arms.

12 thoughts on “Jeremiah Part IV: Parables & Prophecy

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