Jeremiah 13


We could call Jeremiah 13 the five warnings to the nations. God’s chosen people should have been living a happy with their creator. They should also have been teaching the other nations about this great God. On the contrary, they were allowing the ‘other nations’ to teach them the filth of those nations. These warnings were meant, even after all this time, to let God’s people see sense, but they didn’t.

The five warnings were:

1. The parable of the linen belt. Jeremiah 13:1-11.

2. The parable of the wineskins. Jeremiah 13:12-14.

3. The warning against pride towards God. Jeremiah 13:15-17.

4. Warning to the king and queen mother. Jeremiah 13:18-19.

5. The warning that identified nations as their conquerors. Jeremiah 13:20-27.

Pride was certainly their downfall. God’s always ready to forgive, but they were too full of pride to correct any faults. To explain this, we have the parable of the linen belt or waistcoat. The Hebrew indicates that this wasn’t an outer garment, he is to put this on, but he’s not allowed to wash it. He is then told to take it off and go and hide it in the ground near the River Euphrates.

The Euphrates is the river of Babylon, so, we see the significance of captivity here. Up until now, God hasn’t said who was going to do this attack, He has only said, ‘from the north’.

When he digs this waistcoat up, on God’s instructions, it’s filthy, it’s so filthy it cannot be used. God likens this belt to Judah in Jeremiah 13:11 when He says, ‘For as a belt is bound around a man’s waste, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me.’

‘This is what the LORD said to me: ‘Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.’ So, I bought a belt, as the LORD directed, and put it around my waist. Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time: ‘Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.’ So, I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD told me.’ Jeremiah 13:1-5

Since Jeremiah by this time in his ministry was well-known among the people, it is probable that he actually made the 500-kilometre trip to the Euphrates River in order to bury the waistcloth. Why linen? Because this was the mark of the priesthood. Because this garment represented God’s people, it had to be linen to represent the nation of God’s priests.

‘Many days later the LORD said to me, ‘Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.’ So, I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.’ Jeremiah 13:6-7

It was necessary for the linen belt to be buried for some days to allow it to rot, some people believe that the ‘many days’ refer to the 70 years in captivity. It is a mistake to assume that it was the Babylonian captivity that ruined the nation. The linen belt would already be dirty because Jeremiah had been wearing it and he had been told, ‘not to let it touch water’.

So, the symbol here is, as the linen belt was already dirty, filthy, in fact, before the captivity. What God seems to hate the most about His people was the worship of other gods, of idols. And it’s interesting to note that when the ‘righteous remnant’ returned from Jerusalem from Babylon, they never resorted to idol worship again, so, I guess they learned that major lesson, serve God only.

‘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 honour. But they have not listened.’ Jeremiah 13:8-11

It seems from the wording of this section that Jeremiah showed the rotten linen belt to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He would have explained the symbolism of it. The people would know that Jeremiah was talking about an attack coming from the north. The symbolism of ‘Euphrates’ may have given them some idea that he was talking about Babylon. They will be like this belt, completely useless.

‘Say to them: ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ then tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’ Jeremiah 13:12-14

God tells him to tell the people about the wineskins and the drunkenness of the land. I am going to knock their heads together. He says. This is a very brief parable. How did Jeremiah’s critic’s reply to this? ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin will be filled with wine!’

They were, of course, mocking him. What they then learned was that God wasn’t talking about wineskins, but people. Them! All of them! The wineskins are the people, the wine is the wrath of God.

‘Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom. If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive.’ Jeremiah 13:15-17

These are important words in this chapter. They indicate the pride of God’s people. From verse 15 to the end we have more verses about God’s long-suffering. Don t be proud. Listen to Me. Be humble. Humbleness is something that God has always wanted from us. In Micah 6:9 we read, ‘He has showed you. Oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

This is Jeremiah showing his feelings, but it could be said of God.

‘Say to the king and to the queen mother, ‘Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads.’ The cities in the Negev will be shut up, and there will be no one to open them. All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away.’ Jeremiah 13:18-19

Why mention the queen’s mother?

It indicates that the king’s mother held some kind of importance. 1 Kings 2:19 even suggests that she sat on the throne adjacent to the king. And this verse in Jeremiah suggests that she also wore a crown. But the prophet’s plea was in vain. The crown has gone. The cities are closed. All the people have gone.

‘Look up and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted? What will you say when the LORD sets over you those you cultivated as your special allies? Will not pain grip you like that of a woman in labour?’ Jeremiah 13:20-21

Almost all the invaders came from the north, as it was the best military entrance into Jerusalem. Hezekiah had invited the envoy from Babylon to look around his storerooms, to see all the treasures of Jerusalem and in the temple. That’s like inviting a burglar into your home, showing him where your valuables are, telling him where you keep the front door key and also telling him you will be away on holiday next week!

‘And if you ask yourself, ‘Why has this happened to me?’—it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. ‘I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind.’ Jeremiah 13:22-24

This is God’s answer to the question as to why all of these things are going to happen to the nation. ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots’? Both questions have negative answers. So, what is the meaning? It’s too late for you to change your ways. You have wallowed in sin all this time, now it’s too late to change.

The people will not change any more than a leopard can change its spots or a person of a different colour change the colour of his skin. They are going to be scattered in shame.

‘Your skirts have been torn off.’ Judah is going to be embarrassed.

‘This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen—your adulteries and lustful neighing’s, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?’ Jeremiah 13:25-27

This is the shameful punishment of an adulterous woman. Her skirts were lifted over her head to expose her nakedness, she would be smeared with filth, and driven through the city.

‘How long will you be unclean?’ Some people have mixed opinions as to what this means. Some say that it means, ‘How long before Jerusalem is cleaned up?’

Others, ‘How long before God judges His people?’ As you know, Jeremiah lived to see the actual Fall of Jerusalem. He lived in the hope of what he wrote in Jeremiah 31:31-34.

This concludes the five warnings that are given in this chapter. Did the nation show any indication of listening to these warnings? If they did, there are no records of this in Scripture.

Go To Jeremiah 14



"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"