In these first ten verses we notice three important things; the commandment of Jehovah, the condition of Judah and Jerusalem, and the obedience of Jeremiah.
Israel as a nation is likened to many things. In the book of Isaiah we see them likened to a city: a faithful city, a strong city, and a holy city. In Jer. 8 we see them likened to a vessel: a made vessel, a marred vessel, and a made again vessel. I was taught as a young Christian that the church was reliving the history of Israel. Hence the importance of knowing the Old Testament Scriptures. In 1 Cor. 10 we see the failures of the people of Israel, while in Heb. 11 we see the faithfulness of Israel. Whether it is their failure or their faithfulness, we should keep before us that they are for our example. Jeremiah 13, is a ministry that is personal. Notice four times in those verses the phrase 'unto me,' and then once "as the Lord commanded me." We sometimes sing "Speak to me by name oh master, Let me know it is to me." Someone has said we sing more lies than we speak. It was a ministry of commendation, and then a ministry of condemnation.
As we read about the girdle in Scripture, many lessons can be learned. We find it is illustrative of strength, joy, righteousness, faithfulness and truth. There are five lessons that God would teach Jeremiah from this girdle. It is important to notice that the Revised Version and Darby's translation bring before us the thought of the girdle being bought. So as we think of the bought girdle we are reminded of Israel's redemption. When we think of it being a linen girdle we are reminded of the time when Israel was pure and pleasing to God. When we think of the girdle on the loins of Jeremiah, that reminds us of the time when Israel was profitable to the Lord. When we think of the girdle in the hole of the rock, that reminds us of Israel pursuing their own pursuits. Then when we think of the girdle marred, good for nothing, that reminds us of their wanderings and murmurings and their backslidings.
The Girdle that was Bought
This reminds us of Israel's redemption. We should never forget the price that has been paid for our redemption. We have been redeemed not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish or spot. The late Harry Bell from Jarrow once spoke on redemption and told a story about himself. He was sitting having his hair cut. At that time a man by the name of Tommy Lawton had been transferred from one football team to another for a very great sum of money. After brother Bell had listened to the barber, he said to him "my transfer cost far more than that." The first question the barber asked Harry was "who do you play for?" He said that he played for the wanderers (there was a team called Bolton Wanderers). The second question was "what was the price of your transfer?" The precious blood of God's Son shed at Calvary.
What a price thy love has bought us,
Saviour what a love is thine.
The Linen Girdle
This reminds us of Israel being pure and pleasing to God. We are living in a world that is against the people of God. The Bible speaks about the cares of this world. We are exhorted not to be conformed to this age. We read about the world being crooked. Then Peter speaks about the corruption that is in the world. There are three types of men in the book of Samuel that wore a linen girdle. It says that Samuel ministered to the Lord being girded with a linen ephod. Then we have the priests of the Lord being girded with a linen ephod. And then we have David dancing before the Lord with all his might being girded with the linen ephod. The lesson to learn is, if I am going to speak for God, as seen in the prophet, I must be pure. If we are going to worship God as seen in the priest we must be pure. And if we are going to rule for God as seen in the king we must be pure. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.
The Girdle on the Loin of Jeremiah
This reminds us of the time when Israel was profitable to the Lord. "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase.
The Girdle in the Hole of the Rock
This reminds us of Israel being away from the Lord. One of the saddest things said about Israel was, "...no king in Israel and everyone doing that which is right in their own eyes." Notice the phrase "after many days." We are reminded that for a long time Israel had been without the true God, without a teaching priest and without law, having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof.
The Girdle Marred
Here was a girdle that was purchased, pure and pleasing to the Lord. It was a girdle that was profitable. But because of pursuing its own desires, it became a girdle that was marred and profitable for nothing. Paul was a man that was afraid of many things in life. He was afraid of running in vain and laboring in vain. He was also afraid of becoming a castaway. This is not the thought of losing his soul, but it is the thought of losing his effectiveness in the service of God. Because of Israel's pride, evil, rebellion, stubbornness and idolatry, it became as a marred girdle, good for nothing.