Lenten Devotional: March 25
“This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own will and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.” Jeremiah 13:10
God’s detailed directions to Jeremiah in today’s reading Jeremiah 13:1-11 about the purchasing of a new belt offer a convincing metaphor.
A quick look at both the New and the Old Testaments shows that in the days of simple clothing, a belt was there for comfort and convenience; it had significance. In peacetime the belt was used for money and essentials of daily life, while during a war, belts were to carry weapons.
I noticed that in the Bible where few descriptions are usually given, the passage lists very specific material the belt must be made of –“linen”. Jeremiah even had to apply proper fabric care and “not let it touch water”. Jeremiah must have worn this fine accessory with care and pride long enough to become attached to it. When the order came to give the belt up, Jeremiah, I am sure began to understand God’s message: “as a belt is bound round a man’s waist, so I bound the house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me.” The transition of the belt from the place of significance to a place of ruin speaks clearly of the destination the Israelites were heading to by abandoning God’s wisdom and love.
God punctuates his message by declaring those who do not listen to his word as “wicked” and “useless,” just like the ruined belt without the care of its master. The vivid image crafts a weighty lesson about our proper place around God. We are bound to him indeed and we must not let go.