These are days when I am fascinated by English translations and wish I knew Hebrew. (And I know at least TWO comments I will get on that statement alone.)
Jeremiah is part of our Lenten reading and the symbolic things Jeremiah had to do were… um… interesting.
This one from Jeremiah 13 is really interesting.
First, the “polite” version:
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.” 2 So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist. (Jer. 13:1-2, NIV)
Now, the “interesting” versions:
The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts and put them on. Do not put them in water.” 2 So I bought the shorts as the Lord had told me to do and put them on. (NET Bible)
The Lord proclaimed to me: Go and buy a linen undergarment. Wear it for a while without washing it. 2 So I bought a linen undergarment, as the Lord told me, and I put it on. (CEB)
So… the big question here is obvious… but I’m not going to do it. I just can’t. I thought long and hard and I’m NOT going to ask THAT question…
“Loincloth” seems to be a better way to put it (as does the ESV and NRSV). It was worn next to the body.
The instruction of Jeremiah was to put it under a rock. Don’t wash it. Bury it. Obviously, when the Lord tells him to go get it back, it’s ruined.
A garment that was meant to be worn close to the body was no longer useful. This is the lesson of the underwear. This was Israel. They had gone their own way, had not let themselves be washed by the presence of God, and had instead allowed themselves to be soiled and ruined by their own choices. They could no longer be kept close to God.
“They will become like this linen garment – good for nothing!” (Jer. 13:10b, CEB, emphasis added)
In this season, allow the Spirit to wash you. Don’t allow the junk of this life to so overwhelm you that you become useless to the King. The Kingdom is about obedience, not just mental acumen. Follow him. Cling to him. Literally.