Summary: This message comes from Jeremiah 13, 17, and 18 dealing with three non verbal illustrations God gave to Jeremiah to aid him in his prophecies. The visuals included a belt, a bush, and a bowl.
The Belt, the Bush, and the Bowl
Jeremiah 13, 17, 18
CHCC – October 2, 2011
Props: white linen / dirty torn linen -- dead plant / living plant --clay bowl
I’ve heard people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. They say that because the Old Testament includes actual History of the Middle East. And Middle Eastern history … like any history … is full of violence and war. The difference here is that we actually get God’s perspective on the rise and fall of nations … particularly the rise and fall of the nation God created and chose to be His people – the nation of Israel.
By the time of Jeremiah, 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel have already been conquered and taken into exile. Only 2 tribes remain, Judah and Benjamin.
When you read the book of Jeremiah, you read about the Judgment God sent on His people. You also learn about the nature of God Himself … and you see that He is the same God of love and mercy as the God of the New Testament. Today we’re going to look at what we can learn about God’s nature in Jeremiah 7 -20. In those 14 chapters we see 3 interesting word pictures that show how God wants to relate to His people.
Sometimes when Susan tells me about something long and complicated … I find my eyes starting to glaze over. I don’t know why, but if I hear too many words, my mind begins to get fuzzy. Susan usually notices this and says something like, “Are you listening to me?” That’s when I often say, “Could you just draw me a chart or something?”
That’s what God did for Jeremiah – He “drew him a chart.” God gave Jeremiah simple visual aids to show us what He wants us to know. If you’re like me --- and you need someone to draw you a chart --- then this is the sermon for you!
1. The Belt – Jeremiah 13 – the linen belt
PURITY requires CONNECTION
The first non-verbal picture is found in Jeremiah 13. God instructed Jeremiah to purchase a pure white linen sash and tie it around his waist. Linen was a costly fabric, usually reserved for kings, priests, and brides. The wearing of white linen represented purity.
For Levites and priests this linen belt would be worn as an undergarment right next to their skin. But this time Jeremiah wore his linen outside his robe where all could see it. That would be something like me coming to church wearing a suit and also wearing a pair of boxer shorts over my dress pants. You would wonder if I had a screw loose somewhere, or was having a wardrobe malfunction.
After Jeremiah wore that sash where everyone could see it for a while, he was told to bury it under a rock near Parah. (There was a place by that name near Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.) At Parah he buried the linen belt in a hole under a rock … and then he went back a few days later to dig it up. Of course the pure white linen had been ruined completely.
Here’s the lesson God was illustrating: Then the word of the LORD came to me: “This is what the LORD says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’” Jeremiah 13:8-11
Judah was to have a Purity above the other nations because of her connection to God … but Judah had destroyed that Purity by walking after other gods to worship senseless idols. Like the sash, Judah’s Purity was soiled and ruined.
What we learn here about GOD is that God requires PURITY. What we learn about US is that the only way we can stay PURE is if we stay tightly and constantly connected with God. The New Testament gives the same lesson. Look at James 4:8 --- Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Have you ever thought you could separate from God … just for a little while … and then later on turn back to God? Unfortunately we all do this … in big ways or small ways. Any time we decide to live a life INDEPENDENT of God, we run a big risk.