June 24, 2021
"Listen and pay attention. Do not be proud, for the Lord had spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before He brings darkness..."
“Listen and pay attention. Do not be proud, for the Lord had spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before He brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the mountains at dusk. But if you will not listen, my innermost being will weep in secret because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, for the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.” Jeremiah 13:15-17
Jeremiah was the obedient servant of our very creative “Creator.” As such, Jeremiah expressed his prophecies not only in figurative language but also in symbolic acts. God ordered Jeremiah to buy a linen girdle to bind it upon his loins and not put it in water. Later, he was told to take it to the Euphrates and to hide it in a cleft of the rocks…the same kind of place where God placed Moses so he could catch a glimpse of Him as He passed by. It is also the kind of place where Elijah was hiding when God appeared in a still, small voice. It suggests the Lord was not simply choosing to abandon Israel. Rather, He would eventually reveal Himself to them in hopes that they would repent. The “cleft of a rock” imagery would have stirred up historic solid memories of God’s presence, and “linen underwear” spoke of how the Lord had kept Israel close and intimately so.
My early career was spent as a songwriter. Whenever I write a song, a Bible devotional, or put together some other teaching moment, my deepest desire is to connect with people in such a way that they believe the gospel. In our innovative multi-media culture, one would think that Jeremiah’s extreme creative methods of communication would have connected with Israel and brought them to repentance. Not so.
God led Jeremiah to use drastic measures to go out on a limb and make himself a spectacle. Furthermore, God knew that Israel would not repent, regardless of Jeremiah’s extremely demonstrative methods. But why would God call a person to such a humiliating and (seemingly) fruitless mission field? So Israel would be without excuse: they had been warned. About this time, you’re probably thinking, “Stinks to be Jeremiah!” That’s pretty much how Jeremiah felt. Not only was he asked to participate in prophetic performance art, but he was also the laughing stock (and hated son) of Jerusalem. As a communicator, I can empathize with the prophet. Can you imagine finishing a concert and everyone throws tomatoes or wants to lynch you?
Whenever analogies of “linen underwear” and “full wine jugs” break down, creativity gets thrown out the window. Jeremiah continues with a direct approach. Jeremiah has been rightly chosen, not just for his obedience to the Lord but also for his passionate love for his people!
Today’s passage has a great lesson for us. It is good to be obedient to God, but we must match that obedience with LOVE for those He sends us, even the unrepentant ones.
“Now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13