CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 13.
The Lord tells Jeremiah to put on a belt (verse 1). Jeremiah does this (verse 2), and the Lord explains that it is a symbol (verse 3). He tells Jeremiah to hide the belt by the river (verse 4), and so Jeremiah does (verse 5). After a while, the Lord told Jeremiah to go back and get the belt (verse 6), and Jeremiah did and discovered it to be rotted and decayed (verse 7).
Then the Lord explains more (verse 8), saying that the symbol represents “the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem” (verse 9). They are supposed to be the chosen people, practical and useful like a belt, and righteous and true (see also Ephesians 6:14). But instead, they are useless and corrupted, decayed and no good (verse 10). Instead of testifying to those around them, they share corrupt practices and false traditions. Instead of living righteously, they have returned to their own sins – like a belt that has decayed in the dust and become part of the dust. It was their obedience that made them righteous and holy, by what the Lord had done for them; in their rejection of Him, they also lose their holiness and righteousness (verse 11).
The Lord tells Jeremiah to go to the people and tell them this using another symbol of bottles being filled with wine (verse 12). He says the people will understand that each bottle will serve its purpose of being a container, but the Lord says then to confront the people with what kind of substance they have chosen to fill themselves with – and to declare that it is not righteousness (verse 13). Because they are filled with poison, the “bottles” must be broken into pieces and destroyed, for the safety of all around (verse 14).
In the same way, the Lord will have to deliver the consequences the people have chosen (verse 15). He urges them to repent and turn back to Him instead of being destroyed (verse 16), but knows He will grieve for them if they will not (verse 17). He even reminds the covenant people that they are not just living for themselves, and that abandoning righteousness puts their posterity at risk also (verse 18). Because of this, the people have lost their right even to land. Without prosperity to be raised in the covenant, there is no purpose for the Lord to protect the land for them. So they will be carried away captive (verse 19).
The Lord warns the people that the enemies are already on the way (verse 20), and urges them to think about the consequences they have chosen (verse 21). He reminds them that these can still be only warnings, that He can still deliver them if they will turn to Him – but that if they do not, these will be their own natural consequences (verse 22). When they turn to Him, He can help them become righteous. When they will not, then their natural selves become hard and rebellious and there is nothing He can do (verse 23).
Rather than a choice people, they will be as nothing; rather than protected on their own land in which to raise a righteous prosperity, they will be scattered as nothing just like the nothing they teach their children (verse 24). These are the consequences for forgetting the Lord and breaking their covenants (verse 25). It is a shame they have earned themselves (verse 26), and the Lord knows what they have done. They have sinned openly, and openly refused to repent.
Yet still, He promises them that regardless of what they have done, He can still rescue them, can still clean them up, can still restore them to all the blessings He waits to give – if only they will turn to Him (verse 27).