God commands the prophet Jeremiah to act out a metaphor very much like this for His people in Jeremiah chapter thirteen. God has Jeremiah buy a fine linen undergarment to wear. Then He told him to go to a certain river and to hide it in a cleft of a rock. Only many days later did the Lord tell Jeremiah to go and retrieve it. Of course it was ruined, wet and muddy. It was useless. In verses nine and ten God reveals the significance of this acted out metaphor.
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!Jeremiah's ruined belt or undergarment represents the pride of Judah which God promises to ruin. God is bringing judgment on His people because of their idolatry and stubborn refusal to repent. Then, in verse eleven, God pushes the symbolism a step further saying,
'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.’God reveals that the ruined belt also symbolizes how His people have ruined His glory. God's people were supposed to cling to Him like a fine belt that always stayed close and brought added glory by virtue of their fine quality. Instead, because of their sin and unfaithfulness to God, Israel and Judah have become defiled and have failed to glorify God. Now they are like a soiled belt wrapped around His waist. As God's people they bear His name and they drag it along with them into their sin.
It is heartbreaking to think that God's people would so callously besmirch God's name. Yet, how often do we do the same? We call ourselves Christians, then we unabashedly go to the theaters and publicly watch movies we know Christ never would. We go to church and we attack and viciously tear down our leaders and other believers in ways that are out of step with Christ's love for His church. We engage in our secret sins, thinking that no one sees, but God does.
Father, help us to live as your people in this world. Help us to cling tightly to you, to always stay close to you and to live in a way that increases your fame, your glory, and your praise. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.