Jeremiah 13:1
This is what the LORD said to me: "Go and buy yourself a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water."
Good Reasons for Singular ConductJeremiah 13:1-11
Nearness to God Destroyed by SinE. Jerman.Jeremiah 13:1-11
The Cast-Off GirdleJeremiah 13:1-11
The Marred GirdleA.F. Muir Jeremiah 13:1-11
The Marred GirdleD. Young Jeremiah 13:1-11
The Ruined Girdle; Or, it May be Too Late to MendS. Conway Jeremiah 13:1-12

This and the following emblem are intended to symbolize the characters and punishment of pride in spiritual and carnal men respectively. The "girdle" of linen cloth worn by the priest represents the close relation of Judah and Jerusalem to Jehovah. He had chosen them, and taken them into closest fellowship. They were as his cincture to declare his character and glory to men. But they had abused his confidence. For them, therefore, the fate was reserved which is described in connection with the girdle. Where the cleft of the rock was, in Ephrath or Euphrates, is not quite plain; but the probability is that the last-mentioned is really meant, and that a journey to it was indeed made by the prophet.

I. THE DIGNITY AND IDEAL CHARACTER OF GOD'S PEOPLE THUS SET FORTH. The linen girdle worn by the priests was a portion of their appointed and consecrated garments. It represented, therefore, the idea of consecration arising from nearness and closeness. They were highly favored amongst the nations as being brought into immediate relation with Jehovah. "As the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord" (Ver. 11). And as the girdle, by bracing the body, becomes a means of strength, so Israel was to be the power of God amongst the nations of the world. They were to be as kings and priests before God, to show forth his righteousness and to execute his will.

II. THE CONDITION UPON WHICH THESE HAVE TO BE MAINTAINED. Simply because they had been so designed in the eternal purpose. They had no security for this position being retained. It would not do for them to rely upon prestige. With spiritual strength relaxed and moral pretty lost, they were no longer fit for the honorable service to which they had been called. It was only as their spiritual life rose to the height of their calling, and maintained itself from age to age by means of Divine truth and continual exercise of faith, that they could expect to retain their privileges. But this Israel was far from seeing. She required, therefore, to be taught the truth of it by experience, and nothing would do this better than that which the symbol suggested. Their outward circumstances and position would be made to correspond with their inward character, so that all men, and even they themselves, would cease to be deceived. This is ever the order of the Divine government. He will set our secret sins in the light of his countenance.

II. THE MESSENGER OF GOD SHOULD SPARE NO EFFORT TO EMBODY AND ENFORCE THE TRUTH HE HAS TO DECLARE. Whether Ephrath in Israel or Euphrates was meant, a journey of considerable length had to be taken, and much trouble was involved. But the prophet did not grudge this if thereby he might appeal through the imagination the more forcibly to the heart of his people. So sometimes ancient prophets had to submit to themselves being made signs that were spoken against. There can be no question that the manner adopted by the prophet of illustrating his message was most effective and striking. And it was clear even to the simplest understanding. An illustrative style of discourse is carefully to be distinguished from a florid one; and anything which conveys more vivid impressions to one's self is more likely to add impressiveness and vivid force to what one has to say to others. This going to Euphrates on the part of the prophet was quite an important business, but it was justified by its result. And so preachers should spare no pains to link the truth of God with the actions, the experiences, and the interests of men. - M.

Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, beheld, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
In many instances the prophets were bidden to do singular things, and among the rest was this: Jeremiah must take a linen girdle and put it about his loins, and wear it there till the people had noticed what he wore, and how long he wore it. This girdle was not to be washed; this was to be a matter observed of all observers, for it was a part of the similitude. Then he must make a journey to the distant river Euphrates, and take off his girdle and bury it there. When the people saw him without a girdle they would make remarks and ask what he had done with it; and he would reply that he had buried it by the river of Babylon. Many would count him mad for having walked so far to get rid of a girdle: two hundred and fifty miles was certainly a great journey for such a purpose. Surely he might have buried it nearer home, if he must needs bury it at all. Anon, the prophet goes a second time to the Euphrates, and they say one to another, The prophet is a fool: the spiritual man is mad. See what a trick he is playing. Nearly a thousand miles the man will have walked in order to hide a girdle, and to dig it up again. What next will he do? Whereas plain words might not have been noticed, this little piece of acting commanded the attention and excited the curiosity of the people. The record of this singular transaction has come to us, and we know that, as a part of Holy Scripture, it is full of instruction. Thousands of years will not make it so antique as to be valueless. The Word of the Lord never becomes old so as to lose its vigour; it as still as strong for all Divine purposes as when first of all Jehovah spoke it.

I. In our text we have AN HONOURABLE EMBLEM of Israel and Judah: we may say, in these days, an emblem of the Church of God.

1. God had taken this people to be bound to Himself: He had taken them to be as near to Him as the girdle is to the Oriental when he binds it about his loins. The traveller in the East takes care that his girdle shall not go unfastened: he girds himself securely ere he commences his work or starts upon his walk; and God has bound His people round about Him so that they shall never be removed from Him "I in them" saith Christ, even as a man is in his girdle. "Who shall separate us?" saith Paul. Who shall ungird us from the heart and soul of our loving God? "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord."

2. But Jeremiah's girdle was a linen one: it was the girdle peculiar to the priests, for such was the prophet; he was "the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth." Thus the type represents chosen men as bound to God in connection with sacrifice. We are bound to the Most High for solemn priesthood to minister among the sons of men in holy things. The Lord Jesus is now blessing the sons of men as Aaron blessed the people, and we are the girdle with which He girds Himself in the act of benediction by the Gospel.

3. The girdle also is used by God always in connection with work. When Eastern men are about to work in real earnest they gird up their loins. When the Lord worketh righteousness in the earth it is by means of His chosen ones. When He publishes salvation, and makes known His grace, His saints are around Him. When sinners are to be saved it is by His people. when error is to be denounced, it is by our lips that He chooses to speak. When His saints are to be comforted, it is by those who have been comforted by His Holy Spirit, and who therefore tell out the consolations which they have themselves enjoyed.

4. Moreover, the girdle was intended for ornament. It does not appear that it was bound about the priest's loins under his garments, for if so it would not have been seen, and would not have been an instructive symbol: this girdle must be seen, since it was meant to be a type of a people who were to be unto God "for a people, and for a name, and for a praise and for a glory." Is not this wonderful beyond all wonder, that God should make His people His glory? But now, alas! we have to turn our eyes sorrowfully away from this surpassing glory.

II. These people who might have been the glorious girdle of God displayed in their own persons A FATAL OMISSION. Did you notice it? Thus saith the Lord unto Jeremiah, "Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water."

1. Ah, me! there is the mischief: the unwashed girdle is the type of an unholy people who have never received the great cleansing. No nearness to God can save you if you have never been washed by the Lord Jesus. No official connection can bless you if you have never been washed in His most precious blood. Here is the alternative for all professors, — you must be washed in the blood of Christ, or be laid aside; which shall it be?

2. The prophet was bidden not to put it in water, which shows that there was not only an absence of the first washing, but there was no daily cleansing. We are constantly defiling our feet by marching through this dusty world, and every night we need to be washed. If you suffer a sin to lie on your conscience, you cannot serve God aright while it is there. If you have transgressed as a child, and you do not run and put your head into your Father's bosom and cry, "Father, I have sinned!" you cannot do God's work.

3. The more this girdle was used the more it gathered great and growing defilement. Without the atonement, the more we do the more we shall sin. Our very prayers will turn into sin, our godly things will gender evil. O Lord, deliver us from this! Save us from being made worse by that which should make us better. Let us be Thy true people, and therefore let us be washed that we may be clean, that Thou mayest gird Thyself with us.

III. Very soon that fatal flaw in the case here mentioned led to A SOLEMN JUDGMENT. It was a solemn judgment upon the girdle, looking at it as a type of the people of Israel.

1. First, the girdle, after Jeremiah had made his long walk in it, was taken off from him and put away. This is a terrible thing to happen to any man. I would rather suffer every sickness in the list of human diseases than that God should put me aside as a vessel in which He has no pleasure, and say to me, "I cannot wear you as My girdle, nor own you as Mine before men."

2. After that girdle was laid aside, the next thing for it was hiding and burying. It was placed in a hole of the rock by the river of the captivity, and left there. Many a hypocrite has been served in that way.

3. And now the girdle spoils. It was put, I dare say, where the damp and the wet acted upon it; and so, when in about seventy days Jeremiah came back to the spot, there was nothing but an old rag instead of what had once been a pure white linen girdle. He says, "Behold the girdle was marred; it was profitable for nothing." So, if God were to leave any of us, the best men and the best women among us would soon become nothing but marred girdles, instead of being as fair white linen.

4. But the worst part of it is that this relates undoubtedly to many mere professors whom God takes off from Himself, laying them aside, and leaving them to perish. And what is His reason for so doing? He tells us this in the text: He says that this evil people refused to receive God's words. Dear friends, never grow tired of God's Word; never let any book supplant the Bible. Love every part of Scripture, and take heed to every word that God has spoken. Next to that, we are told that they walked in the imagination of their heart. That is a sure sign of the hypocrite or the false professor. He makes his religion out of himself, as a spider spins a web out of his own bowels: what sort of theology it is you can imagine now that you know its origin. Upon all this there followed actual transgression, — "They walked after other gods to serve them and to worship them." This happens also to the base professor. He keeps up the name of a Christian for a little while, and seems to be as God's girdle; but by and by he falls to worshipping gold, or drink, or lust. He turns aside from the infinitely glorious God, and so he falls from one degradation to another till he hardly knows himself. He becomes as a rotten girdle "which profiteth nothing."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. These Jews were like a girdle bound upon the loins. Should have entwined themselves around God. So nations may be near —

(1)In the great things that God had done for them.

(2)In the covenant relation which He had entered into with them.

(3)In the privileges which He had conferred upon them.

2. Man is near God.

(1)By nature. Created in God's image.

(2)Near to God's heart.

(3)Near in God's care over him.

(4)Near in the privileges of liberty, religion, knowledge, discipline, warning.

(5)In a position to become eternally nearer by growing up into Christ.

(6)Brought near for God's glory.


1. Sin is the destroyer of nations as well as individuals. The Jews destroyed by idolatry, lust, selfishness, pride.

2. As of nations, so of individuals: sin will destroy them, unless resisted and cast out.

3. This destruction is voluntary. The sinner is a suicide.

4. God is represented as active in this destruction.

(1)Not that God deserts the sinner first.

(2)But, when measure of sin is full, God removes restraints, and sets in motion the agency of judgment.

5. This destruction will consist in —

(1)Separation from God.

(2)Utter corruption and rottenness.Learn —

1. The terrible power of sin.

2. To guard against it as our chief enemy.

(E. Jerman.)

Good Words contains an excellent story about Professor Blackie by the editor, Dr. Donald Macleod: — "Professor Blackie frequently stayed at my house when lecturing in Glasgow. He was always at his best when one had him alone. One night we were sitting up together, he said in his brusque way: 'Whatever other faults I have, I am free from vanity.' An incredulous smile on my face roused him. 'You don't believe that: give me an instance.' Being thus challenged, I said: 'Why do you walk about flourishing a plaid continually? 'I'll give you the history of that, sir. When I was a poor man, and when my wife and I had our difficulties, she one day drew my attention to the thread-bare character of my surtout, and asked me to order a new one. I told her I could not afford it just then; when she went, like a noble woman, and put her own plaid shawl on my shoulders, and I have worn a plaid ever since in memory of her loving deed!'" The prophet Jeremiah must often have been looked upon as a man of eccentric conduct. But like Professor Blackie with his plaid shawl, he was not actuated by whims, fancy, or vanity. Jeremiah's warrant for the singular use to which he put his girdle was the authority and mandate of the Lord.

Euphrates River, Jerusalem, Negeb
Band, Belt, Buy, Cause, Dip, Enter, Girdle, Got, Hast, Linen, Loins, Placed, Round, Says, Thus, Touch, Waist, Waistband, Waistcloth
1. By the type of a linen belt, hidden at Euphrates,
9. God prefigures the destruction of his people.
12. By the parable of bottles filled with wine he foretells their drunkenness in misery.
15. He exhorts to prevent their future judgments.
22. He shows their abominations are the cause thereof.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Jeremiah 13:1

     5392   linen

Jeremiah 13:1-7

     5935   riddles

Jeremiah 13:1-11

     5131   belt

An Impossibility Made Possible
'Can the Ethiopian change his skin?'--JER. xiii. 23. 'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.'--2 COR. v. 17. 'Behold, I make all things new.'--REV. xxi. 5. Put these three texts together. The first is a despairing question to which experience gives only too sad and decisive a negative answer. It is the answer of many people who tell us that character must be eternal, and of many a baffled man who says, 'It is of no use--I have tried and can do nothing.' The second text is the grand Christian
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Notion of Inability.
PROPER METHOD OF ACCOUNTING FOR IT. I have represented ability, or the freedom of the will, as a first-truth of consciousness, a truth necessarily known to all moral agents. The inquiry may naturally arise, How then is it to be accounted for, that so many men have denied the liberty of the will, or ability to obey God? A recent writer thinks this denial a sufficient refutation of the affirmation, that ability is a first-truth of consciousness. It is important that this denial should be accounted
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

On Earthly Things
The earth is man himself; in the gospel: another has fallen into the good earth. The same in a bad part about the sinner: you devour the earth all the days of your life. [Mark 4:18; Genesis 3:14] The dry lands are the flesh of a fruitless man; in Ecclesiastes, to work in a dry land with evil and sorrow. [Ecclesiastes 37:3] The dust is a sinner or the vanity of the flesh; in the psalm: like the dust, which the wind blows about. [Ps. 1:4 Vulgate] The mud is the gluttony of sinners; in the psalm: tear
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

The Cavils of the Pharisees Concerning Purification, and the Teaching of the Lord Concerning Purity - the Traditions Concerning Hand-Washing' and Vows. '
As we follow the narrative, confirmatory evidence of what had preceded springs up at almost every step. It is quite in accordance with the abrupt departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and its motives, that when, so far from finding rest and privacy at Bethsaida (east of the Jordan), a greater multitude than ever had there gathered around Him, which would fain have proclaimed Him King, He resolved on immediate return to the western shore, with the view of seeking a quieter retreat, even though it were
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

On the Animals
The birds are the saints, because they fly to the higher heart; in the gospel: and he made great branches that the birds of the air might live in their shade. [Mark 4:32] Flying is the death of the saints in God or the knowledge of the Scriptures; in the psalm: I shall fly and I shall be at rest. [Ps. 54(55):7 Vulgate] The wings are the two testaments; in Ezekiel: your body will fly with two wings of its own. [Ez. 1:23] The feathers are the Scriptures; in the psalm: the wings of the silver dove.
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

Covenanting Confers Obligation.
As it has been shown that all duty, and that alone, ought to be vowed to God in covenant, it is manifest that what is lawfully engaged to in swearing by the name of God is enjoined in the moral law, and, because of the authority of that law, ought to be performed as a duty. But it is now to be proved that what is promised to God by vow or oath, ought to be performed also because of the act of Covenanting. The performance of that exercise is commanded, and the same law which enjoins that the duties
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Meditations on the Hindrances which Keep Back a Sinner from the Practice of Piety.
Those hindrances are chiefly seven:-- I. An ignorant mistaking of the true meaning of certain places of the holy Scriptures, and some other chief grounds of Christian religion. The Scriptures mistaken are these: 1. Ezek. xxxiii. 14, 16, "At what time soever a sinner repenteth him of his sin, I will blot out all," &c. Hence the carnal Christian gathers, that he may repent when he will. It is true, whensoever a sinner does repent, God will forgive; but the text saith not, that a sinner may repent whensoever
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The interest of the book of Jeremiah is unique. On the one hand, it is our most reliable and elaborate source for the long period of history which it covers; on the other, it presents us with prophecy in its most intensely human phase, manifesting itself through a strangely attractive personality that was subject to like doubts and passions with ourselves. At his call, in 626 B.C., he was young and inexperienced, i. 6, so that he cannot have been born earlier than 650. The political and religious
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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