God's Special Possession

Friday, August 30, 2013, 6:43 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Do You Love Me?” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 13:1-11 (NIV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%2013&version=NIV

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.’

The Linen Belt

We read in Revelation 19:8 that “Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people,” which the bride of Christ was given to wear. In the Old Testament times, the curtains of the tabernacle were made of linen. When Jesus died and was buried, his body was wrapped in linen. And, Revelation 15 says the angels from heaven were dressed in clean, shining linen. Linen is thus a figure of what is pure and what is righteous and holy.

Also the priests were dressed in linen, so linen here also symbolizes the priestly ministry of God’s holy people. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to be, and we are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. We are chosen by God to be a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light… and that we may serve our God. And we will reign with him (see 1 Pet. 2; Rev. 1, 5, & 20). What this means is that we are God’s special people, his servants and witnesses, and his divine agents to bring the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ to the world around us.

Jeremiah was representing God in this symbolic act in order to represent a spiritual truth. Yet, this spiritual truth goes beyond just that time in history, but it applies yet to our lives today. Just as Jeremiah bought this linen belt, Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, purchased (redeemed; ransomed) us back for God, thus crediting us with Christ’s righteousness and purity, represented by the linen belt. Thus, because of God’s grace to us in purchasing us, and through our faith in Jesus Christ and in his death for our sins, God binds us to himself to be his special people for his renown, praise and honor, just like Jeremiah put this belt around his waist.

Not Touch Water

When God had instructed Jeremiah to wear the belt, he also told him to not let it touch water. If we wear an article of clothing but we never wash (cleanse) it, it will become dirty. This was to represent the uncleanness of God’s chosen people.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, because of God’s grace to us in providing us with salvation (his righteousness), we come into an intimate relationship with God/Jesus Christ (the binding of God’s people to himself). Yet, even though Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account through our faith in him, still we are instructed that we must daily die to sin and self (See Lu. 9:23-25), and that we must walk (live daily) in the Spirit, and in his righteousness (See Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:2; 1 Jn. 1:7; 2 Jn. 1:4-6; Rev. 3:4).

This passage in Rev. 3:4 says that those of us who have not “soiled” our clothes will walk with Jesus Christ, dressed in white (purity and righteousness), “for they are worthy.” In other words, being purified from all sin takes place daily in our lives (See 1 Jn. 1:7). This is called the process of sanctification. On the other hand, this soiling of our spiritual garments takes place both when we do not have this daily cleansing, and also when we remove ourselves from the protection of God in our lives and we, instead, decide to mingle and mix with the sinful pleasures of this world. I believe both are represented by Jeremiah’s next symbolic act.

Ruined and Useless

Then God directed Jeremiah to take the belt and to hide it in the crevice in the rocks, so Jeremiah did as the Lord instructed. Many days later the Lord told him to go dig up the belt and to take it from the place where he had hidden it, so Jeremiah did that. Yet, now the belt was completely ruined and useless. When we fail to walk in the Spirit, to allow God to work this process of sanctification in our hearts daily, and when we, instead, remove ourselves from Christ’s spiritual protection provided for us in this intimate relationship with God, and we, instead, go out and mingle and mix with the sinful pleasures of this world, then we become corrupted by the world around us and we are no longer of any use to God for his eternal kingdom – i.e. for the praise, glory and honor of his name and his reputation.

Yet, there is another meaning to take away from this symbolic act of hiding the linen belt in the rocks. This has to do with God’s judgments on his people because they had behaved wickedly, refused to listen to God’s words, followed the stubbornness of their own hearts, and they followed after other gods to serve and worship them. And, this happens to followers of Jesus Christ, too, who don’t take care to walk in the Spirit and to daily die to sin and self, and who, instead, remove themselves from God’s protective care, and who willingly go the ways of the world to follow after their sinful practices and desires.

Some people think God won’t judge his church for this, but scripture says he will. The letters to the seven churches alone teach us that the church can fall away from her pure relationship with Jesus Christ, and she can and has gone after “other lovers,” thinking they will satisfy her. And, so God calls his rebellious and/or wayward church to repent (turn from) her evil and wicked ways and to return to following him in obedience, or else he will visit her in divine judgment (correction and discipline). As always, God’s purpose in judgment on his people is to get them to return to him in repentance and obedience so that he can restore them to a right relationship with him, i.e. to the pure and clean linen belt bound closely and intimately to her Savior and Lord. He will do this so that we can be for his renown, praise and honor.

The Appeal

So, where are we in relation to all this today? Have we soiled our clothes and gone off to follow after the ways of this world? Or, have we remained faithful to our Lord by remaining in his love and in this daily walk of faith? Jesus said if we love him, we will obey him. Do we love him? Then, we need to do what he says.

Do You Love Me? / An Original Work / July 24, 2013

Do you love Me now?
Will you seek My face?
I have given you
My love and My grace.
Will you walk with Me
Ev’rywhere I lead?
Will you find in Me
All of what you need?

Won’t you meet with Me
Down upon your knees?
Will you obey Me,
And do what I please?
Will you hear My voice
Speaking now to you?
I am couns’ling you
To abide in truth.

I have died for you;
Taken all your sins –
Crucified with Me,
You have been forgiv’n.
I have set you free
From your slavery,
So that you can now
Live in victory.