This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist. Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.” So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me. Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” 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. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 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! For as a belt is bound around 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 honor. But they have not listened.’ – Jeremiah 13:1-11
This passage contains interesting imagery. God instructs someone, presumably Jeremiah, to purchase a linen belt and put it around their waist. The interesting twist here is that the belt wearer is to “not let it touch water”. A belt, at least in modern times, is a devise for holding up one’s pants. In the time this passage was written it may have had a slightly different purpose but it is probably accurate to say that it was a clothing accessory designed for a specific purpose.
The reason why it was not to touch water is not clear to me. Perhaps it was part of the metaphor that God was building. It seems as though the linen belt is intended to represent the people of Judah and Jerusalem. So if that is the case then the fact that they were not to touch water may have been an allusion to the estrangement they were experiencing from God – the Living Water.
God then directs the belt-wearer to travel to Perath and stash the belt in a crevice in the rocks. Apparently the town or region or Pareth was near where Jeremiah was born. God directs Jeremiah to return to the hiding place many days later only to find that the linen belt is “ruined and completely useless”.
God then makes it clear that the belt is in fact meant to symbolize the people of Judah and Jerusalem “In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 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”. It cannot feel very good for the God you follow to liken you to a useless belt, but in a way that is the way the people of Judah and Jerusalem were treating God.
Not only were they treating God like a useless belt, but as if He had gone “out of style” and it was much more stylish to follow idols fashioned of wood and stone. God’s people were bound to Him like a belt – just like all those who follow God today voluntarily bind themselves to follow God through His son Jesus. God was trying to get the attention of these people and help them see the important role they were to play. The people of Judah and Jerusalem, and modern-day God followers, are “accessories” to God’s wardrobe, but the amazing thing is that God loves us and needs us none the less. He has accepted all of us imperfect linen belts, despite our soiled and sometimes useless behavior.
Prayer: God thank You for loving us and allowing us to play a part in Your kingdom despite our flaws useless behavior.