Read Jeremiah 13:1–11. What was the symbolic act Jeremiah was ordered to do, and what important lesson was it to teach?
This symbolic act has caused some difficulties for interpreters because the river Euphrates (a common interpretation of the Hebrew but not necessarily the only one) was hundreds of kilometers from Jerusalem. Ezra needed four months to travel there in one direction only (Ezra 7:9). In order to understand the message better, God told Jeremiah to go back and forth twice. Thus, some scholars have argued that some other geographical location was meant. On the other hand, some argue that the long distances he had to travel helped show him just how far away the children of Israel would be taken. What’s more, after returning from such a long trip, Jeremiah could understand the joy of returning after 70 years of captivity.
Whatever the case, the belt symbolizes both the house of Israel and the house of Judah, pure and unstained at the time of God’s request. The man wearing the belt is God Himself. This shows, among other things, just how closely tied God Himself was to His people. Some commentators have seen significance in the fact that the belt was made of linen, the same material as the priestly garments (Lev. 16:4); after all, Judah was to be a priestly nation (Exod. 19:6).
Just as the belt had been ruined, the pride of the nation would be too. As a belt clings to a man’s waist, these people had once clung to the Lord and were His source of praise and glory. But they had become tarnished and spoiled by contact with the surrounding cultures.
Read Jeremiah 13:11 and contrast it with Deuteronomy 4:5–8. How do these verses together show what happened to the nation? What should these texts say to us as well?
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults
Q4 2015 «Jeremiah»
Lesson 6 – Symbolic Acts