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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 13: Two Parables and another Warning


PART 1: v.1-11: The parable of a linen belt
PART 2: v.12-14: The parable of full wineskins
PART 3: v.15-17: A warning of a coming captivity


[Preliminary Comment: The chapter, as the following breakdown shows, comprises two prophetic pictures with accompanying explanations, followed a further warning of judgment coming at the hands of a northern invader.]


PART 1: v.1-11: The parable of a linen belt


v.1,2 The Lord instructs Jeremiah to buy and wear a linen belt.

v.1 This is what the Lord said to me: ‘Go and buy a linen belt and put it round your waist, but do not let it touch water.'

v.2  So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it round my waist.


v.3-5 He then tells him to go and bury it

v.3  Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time:

v.4  ‘Take the belt you bought and are wearing round your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.'

v.5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me.


v.6,7 Much later he's told to go and dig up the now spoiled belt

v.6  Many days later the Lord said to me, ‘Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.'

v.7  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.


v.8-11 The Lord explains the meaning of this

v.8  Then the word of the Lord came to me:

v.9  ‘This is what the Lord says: “In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.

v.10  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!

v.11  For as a belt is bound round 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.”


[Comment: The Lord creates a visual parable using a linen belt which gets ruined: as the blet was ruined, so the Lord will ‘ruin' Judah's self-centred pride. He had bound them to Himself as Jeremiah had bound the belt round himself.



PART 2: v.12-14: The parable of full wineskins


v.12-14 A Picture of wineskins – drunken destruction of Judah

v.12  ‘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?”

v.13  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.

v.14  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.”'


[Comment: Jeremiah is to make an obvious declaration about wineskins and when questioned is to explain that the Lord is going to make the people appear drunk [from fear?] and they will no longer care for one another but be against one another.]



PART 3: v.15-27: A warning of a coming captivity


v.15 For goodness sake, listen!

v.15  Hear and pay attention,
     do not be arrogant,
     for the Lord has spoken.

v.16 Unless you glorify the Lord, your darkness will only get worse

v.16  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.

v.17 I will anguish for you and for what is going to happen to you

v.17  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.


v.18 You rulers, realise your rule is about to end

v.18  Say to the king and to the queen mother,
     ‘Come down from your thrones,
for your glorious crowns
     will fall from your heads.'

v.19 The land will be cleared into exile as far as the far south

v.19  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.


v.20 The northern invader is on the way, look after the people God gave you

v.20  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?

v.21 How will you feel when your allies rule over you?

v.21  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?

v.22 And if you wonder why it's happening, it's because of your many sins

v.22  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 ill-treated.

v.23 In nature change is improbable, and similarly so for you

v.23  Can an Ethiopian change his skin
     or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
     who are accustomed to doing evil.


v.24 You're going to be scattered life chaff in the wind

v.24  ‘I will scatter you like chaff
     driven by the desert wind.

v.25 This is your destiny because you substituted idols for God

v.25  This is your lot,
     the portion I have decreed for you,'
declares the Lord,
‘because you have forgotten me
     and trusted in false gods.

v.26,27 Your hopeless religious apostasy will be revealed for all to see

v.26  I will pull up your skirts over your face
     that your shame may be seen –
v.27  your adulteries and lustful neighings,
     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?'


[Comment: The second half of the chapter is given over to a warning that because of their rebellion against God, the invader from the north will clear the land and the nation will be exposed to the ridicule of the rest of the world.]



Continue to Chapter 14