God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
3 The word of the LORD came to me a second time: 4 “Take the waistcloth you bought, the one you are wearing around your waist, and go right now to Peratha and hide it there in a cleft in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD commanded me.
a 4 The name Perath sounds like the Hebrew word for the river Euphrates (also in verses 5-7). The Perath is a stream about three miles (five kilometers) northeast of Jeremiah’s home in Anathoth.
The symbolic act of the prophet was to go a place called Perath and hide the linen waistcloth in a cleft in the rocks there. Where was Perath? I have footnoted this for the translation above, but let’s understand this fully:
Perath is the word used throughout the Old Testament for the great river that formed the western boundary of Babylon, known generally as the “Good Perath,” or (in Greek) the Euphrates. Of the fifteen times this word occurs in the Old Testament, thirteen of them also call it “the River” (Genesis 15:18, Jeremiah 46:2, etc.). The other two, Jeremiah 51:63 and 2 Chronicles 35:20, describe it as being part of Babylon or near Carchemish. Only here in verses 4-7 is there is place called “Perath” without being described as a place in Babylon or the great River, the Euphrates.
For Jeremiah to have gone to Babylon at this time would not have been impossible (Jonah did it, Jonah 3:2), but the trip would have taken many weeks. It was more than 300 miles from Jerusalem to the Babylonian frontier—a round trip of more than 700 miles. Could Jeremiah have made this trip twice in a short time? There is another possibility. In Joshua 18:23, a small place called Parath or Parah is mentioned within the territory of Benjamin. In fact, this other Perath was only about three miles northeast of Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth (that’s like walking 36 blocks in a typical city). The prophet could easily have made this journey with a number of interested followers traveling with him to observe the dramatic, living parable.
What we see in this passage is the prophet’s obedience, used by God to illustrate the disobedience and the unbelief of the other Jews. Perhaps you’ve read this account and you know what’s about to happen. Maybe you haven’t, or you’ve forgotten the details, and you have no idea what’s going to happen next. For now, focus on the prophet’s obedience even though he didn’t know what was coming, and mirror that with your life. We obey God because we love him and because we want to serve him. Our obedience isn’t what makes us right in his sight. Jesus’ death and resurrection did that. That’s why we trust in Jesus, and because we trust Jesus, we gladly serve and obey him.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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