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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 13:1-2

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, October 20, 2014

A Linen Waistcloth
13 This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy yourself a linen waistcloth. Put it around your waist, and do not let it touch water.” 2 So I bought a waistcloth as the LORD said, and I put it on.

A “waistcloth” was the name that the Jews gave to the innermost garment, worn next to the skin. One translation has “shorts,” which might give us a strange idea of what Jeremiah was asked to buy. The NIV’s “belt” is a bland substitute that still makes the point without offending the reader. But what God asked Jeremiah to buy was a nice new pair of linen underwear.

Why? It wasn’t just about the new waistcloth; it was about keeping it dry, fresh, and new. “Store bought.” Mint condition. In its original state. The will of God is not always clear to us, but in this case the Lord let on a little of what he was getting at. This command to buy a linen waistcloth was going to act out some truth for the people to hear and remember. So Jeremiah went ahead and bought one, and he put it on. It was the beginning of a living parable.

How often do people question God’s will and his commands? When those commands are simple, questioning them is foolish. It’s always for our good that God commands us to do or not to do things. When we do the easy ones—like go buy a new linen waistcloth—he will let us know why. Doing it will give us the chance to be involved in God’s will for all mankind, and it will give us practice, because times will come when it won’t be nearly so easy to follow God’s will. But if we get ourselves into the habit of obedience, the obedience that comes from love and faith, then it will be easier to say yes to God’s more difficult demands. Not “easy,” as if we can do so without thinking, but “easier” because we’re used to trusting in our Savior.

Another point we might make about the will of God is that when God chooses to work within means—such as Jeremiah’s waistcloth parable, or through the gospel, or through the sacraments, or through preachers and parents delivering the message—then his will can be resisted by sinful mankind, and the message and the salvation offered through the message can be rejected and the hearer can still be lost. But when God works apart from means, his will is irresistible, such as when Christ will summon all mankind before himself in the last judgment (Matthew 25:31,32; John 5:28,29).

Praise God that his means of grace—the gospel in word and sacrament—has done its gracious work in your heart. Trust in that gospel. It tells you what the gift of eternal life is, and it offers that gift at the very same time. Put your trust in Jesus, because he has given you the gift free of charge. His will is that you will be with him forever in heaven. Don’t resist it.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.