Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pride makes us like a decayed linen girdle

I was reading recently in Jeremiah and I ran across this interesting experience/experiment that the Lord gave to Jeremiah as an object lesson for his preaching.

Thus saith the Lord unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
So I got a girdle according to the word of the Lord, and put it on my loins.
And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying,
Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.
And it came to pass after many days, that the Lord said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Thus saith the Lord, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
11 For 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; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. (Jeremiah 13:1-11)

Basically the Lord told Jeremiah to get a linen girdle (or belt) and wear it and take care of it carefully.  Then, after some time, the Lord told Jeremiah to take the linen girdle, go to the Euphrates river and hide it in a hole somewhere. Jeremiah obeyed and buried it.  Then after more time had passed, the Lord told him to go back and retrieve the linen girdle again.  So he does.  And he finds the girdle is ruined and can’t be used anymore.

(Linen is a cloth made out of flax fibers, so if it is buried in a wet environment among lots of soil microbes and bacteria, it will begin to decompose like any other plant matter.)

The Lord tells Jeremiah that the pride of his people is going to be ruined just like the girdle was ruined.  He also says that just like Jeremiah had that girdle tied on him, the Lord had tied the house of Israel to him, but they chose to forsake him, so they will be ruined.

I think this experiment is a great lesson about the results of pride and rebellion.  When we’re humble, and follow the Lord, we’re attached to him just like a belt.  We’re not fancy ourselves, but we make the Lord look good.

But as soon as we stop listening and following, imagining that we are all that and a bag of chips, thinking we can worship other gods (or let our priorities get messed up), it is as if we untie ourselves, drop off, and bury ourselves in a muddy pit, and we begin to decay.

This resonated with me recently because I’ve noticed pride and vain imaginations in myself that have kept me from listening as I should.  It is very helpful for me to see that pride and rebellion make me decay and make me good for nothing.  I don’t want to be like that.  My vain imaginations don’t do me any good because they don’t tell me what good thing I must do next; they only tell me I’m fine how I am and that gets in the way of me changing for the better.   


Gilgamesh said...

Good article. The word translated as girdle is אזור (ezor) and while it could mean belt, much more probably means waistcloth, or a simple linen cloth wound around the loins to act as an undergarment. It is used in several religious contexts and occasionally represents God's power. In this case it is used for a symbol of fidelity to the covenant between God and Israel. I may have to write a blog post on this myself.

Michaela Stephens said...

Gilgamesh, by all means, write a blog post on it the meaning of girdles.

I have heard that the girdle can represent God's power, but I'm puzzled as to the cultural meanings and associations that created this linkage. I would love to read something that makes that clear and then shows various scriptures where this can deepen our understanding of the scriptures.

When you write it, I hope you will drop me a link so I can read it.

Gilgamesh said...

Ok I made good on my threat and posted a blog entry on this.

Stop by and have a look. Thanks.

Michaela Stephens said...

Thanks for that, Gilgamesh. I found it interesting.