In Jeremiah 13 the Lord instructed the prophet to go and buy a linen undergarment – the equivalent to a pair of men’s Jockey® shorts in our day and age. He was to wear the underwear for awhile, then go and bury them under a rock near the Euphrates River.
Eeeewwwww! As a mom and now a grandmom, this story conjures up memories toilet training days when accidentally soiled pairs of undies were hidden because the young ones were embarrassed by their failures to get to the potty on time. When the undies surfaced, I knew they would come clean in the wash, but I tossed them out rather than to handle them because they had become so gross that I didn’t want to touch them! LOL!
Yep, Jeremiah’s shorts were pretty gross all right after being worn without washing and then being buried for so long. But God had a specific object lesson for the prophet in those ruined shorts. God created his people to remain close to him – as close as a pair of underwear. Living this close to the presence of God was supposed to help his people to develop into a mighty nation that would bring him honor and praise. But over and over again, they refused to remain in his presence and went about lives their own way.
Their hearts became soiled with their bad attitudes that said, “I can take care of myself,” or “I don’t need God.” Many of them were so demoralized by their failures that they hid their hearts away from him. They developed a need to prove to God that they could take care of themselves. Worse yet, many dismissed him altogether, accusing him of abandoning them.
The longer the people tried to hide their hearts from God, the more the moral and spiritual fabric of their lives disintegrated. Instead of glorifying God, their lives brought disgrace to his holiness.
Through the object lesson Jeremiah knew he had to convince the people to return to God or be tossed away like the unwearable shorts – not an easy task. Because Israel consistently refused to listen, they went through many years of captivity, poverty and despair under foreign kings who didn’t recognize God as the supreme ruler of the universe.
But when the people finally realized that their sin and pride were eating away at their hearts, they turned back to God. Thank God he didn’t throw the “unwearable shorts” away! Instead, he continued with his plan to send the Messiah. With Christ’s death on the cross, he made a way to cleanse Israel’s “dirty laundry,” as well as ours. The hearts of all who believe in him are made new again– bringing glory and honor to God!
Prayer: “Cleanse our hearts oh God. Forgive us for our willful and proud attitudes. Make our hearts new again so that we might cling to you and bring glory to your name once more!