In Jeremiah 13 there is a strange and yet, intriguing story about a loincloth. The Lord instructs the prophet to buy a new loincloth, put it on, and wear it without washing it in water. After some time, the Lord tells him to bury it in the rocks near the Euphrates River. Again, after some time has passed, he is told to dig up that old loincloth. Once Jeremiah digs it up, he describes it as “good for nothing.” After all that time buried in the dirt it was spoiled and now unfit for its intended purpose.
In a time when money was tight and new clothing hard to acquire the Lord’s instructions for Jeremiah seem odd at best. It seems like such a waste of time, money, and energy to buy this new loincloth and just bury it. When I spend money on something I want it to last. I want it to be a smart purchase, and just as importantly, I want to know it was a good deal. Why buy something if you’re not going to value it, use it, and take care of it?
The Lord often used object lessons like this to teach the prophet who in turn had to teach the people what God is saying by such demonstrations. Ezekiel was told to write on two sticks (Ezek. 37:15-28). Isaiah was told to walk around naked for 3 years (Isa. 20:1-6). Hosea was told to marry a prostitute and give his kids weird names. Even Ezekiel was told to lay on his left side for 390 days (Ezek. 4).
The lesson of the loincloth was a hard lesson for Israel. They had been bought for a purpose, brought close by the Lord, and through pride & sin had become good for nothing. Being close to the Lord had come with blessings but they had become proud and thought nothing could touch them and that is going to change. The Lord is going to spoil their pride by allowing them to be conquered by Babylon, who came from the Euphrates River area.
In their defeat they would learn the lesson of the loincloth. With sin and rebellion comes defeat. Faithfulness to the Lord always equals success but unfaithfulness will always defeat us. What about us? How will we learn this lesson? Will it take total defeat, or will we learn to trust in the Lord?
We too have been bought (1 Cor. 6:19-20: Acts 20:28) for a price. Where are we focusing our lives? Was His purchase and actions for nothing? Instead of a life wrapped up in our own desires lets cling to the Lord and His purpose for us. Then we will be good for something; a people for his own possession, a people who will follow and praise him.