A Filthy Belt

I have a vivid childhood memory of attending Good News Club. The teacher held up a candy bar and offered it to whomever would receive it. I sprinted to the front and grabbed my gift! Then she told us salvation was like that candy bar—a free gift from God to whomever receives it.

The Good News Club teacher used the candy bar as a spiritual object lesson, one that I still remember to this day. Object lessons can be powerful teaching tools, which is why we see them throughout the book of Jeremiah. In today’s reading, God instructed Jeremiah to purchase a linen belt and use it as an object lesson (vv. 1–7). First, he was told to buy a linen belt and to wear it but not wash it. Priestly garments were made of linen, so the belt was probably a symbolic reminder of Judah’s identity as God’s chosen people. Jeremiah was then told to bury it, then to dig it up. By this time it was filthy and “completely useless” (vv. 7, 10).

After this, God interpreted the object lesson (vv. 8–11). The linen belt represented His love, with which He’d bound the people of Israel and Judah to Himself. Why? For His glory and honor, the purpose of all things. What Jeremiah had done with the belt is a symbol of what God would do with Judah—ruin them. Why? They were proud. They didn’t listen. They thought they could sin and get away with it. They stubbornly persisted in their idolatry.

Just as Jeremiah’s linen belt had utterly failed to serve its intended purpose, so also had Judah. As a result of their unfaithfulness (see Deut. 26:16–19), the “treasured possession” would become a filthy rag.
How about us? Are we living “a life worthy of the calling [we] have received” (Eph. 4:1)? Or are we living as if we’ve “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25)?

Extended reading: Jeremiah 13

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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