Sunday, July 31, 2022

"My People For My Renown" [Matt's Messages]

“My People For My Renown”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 31, 2022 :: Jeremiah 13:1-27

I praise the Lord that on this day we have someone following the Lord in Christian baptism. I’m super excited for Johnathan and rejoice with him for this important marker and milestone in his Christian life.

But before we dunk him, we need to focus our minds together on God’s Word, specifically the words of Jeremiah chapter 13. It’s been a couple of weeks since we studied Jeremiah together, but I’m hoping that you remember the general gist of it?

Jeremiah has been a bit of broken record about a broken covenant. He was sent to proclaim to the people of Judah and Jerusalem that judgment and exile was coming because of their unfaithfulness.
Sadly, un-faithful Judah was going to be up-rooted.

And Jeremiah 13 is more of the same kind of bad news.

If anything, it is more depressing and more disturbing than anything we have read in Jeremiah so far! It ends with some shocking imagery that alludes to sexual assault in a time of war. I’ll warn you ahead of time in case you’ve had bad experiences and this kind of language can set off alarm bells in your nervous system.

It’s not pretty. Jeremiah 13 is not a happy chapter.

And yet, at the very same time, when we read the darkness in Jeremiah 13, it can light up for us the gospel of Jesus Christ. It throws it into stark relief. It’s the opposite.

Whatever we see that Judah did wrong, we know that Jesus undoes. And everything that Judah was supposed to be, Jesus makes true of you and me.

Let me say that again: Everything that Judah was supposed to be, Jesus makes true of you and me.

So this is a perfect passage of Scripture to study on a Baptism Sunday. Because everything it says that went wrong, we know is fixed by what that water up there represents. Including the searching question in the very last verse of Jeremiah 13 which says, “Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?” 

It must have been really weird to be a prophet.

It must have been really strange to live the life of an Old Testament prophet like Jeremiah or Ezekiel. Not only do you have to be a broken record about a broken covenant, but you never know when the Lord might give you a really weird prophetic assignment.

Like this one. Jeremiah was sent to buy a piece of clothing to represent the people of God.

Look at Jeremiah chapter 13, verse 1. “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.”

Like I said. “Weird.”

One of things that really weird about this story is that we’re not 100% sure exactly what kind of piece of clothing this was. It’s hard to translate from the Hebrew.

It’s really hard to know if this is a garment that goes under your other clothing or over your other clothing. Some of your translations say, “undergarment,” or “underwear” or “loincloth.” Those  are under your other clothing. And obviously the NIV goes for “linen belt,” which would be over your other clothing. And it’s hard to say which kind it actually is. We’re going to see that the passage emphasizes how close and tight it’s supposed to fit around Jeremiah’s waist so that would lend itself to the undergarment theory and emphasize intimacy. Some translations go for “shorts.” 

But the passage also emphasizes the overt display of God’s people to be for God’s renown and praise and honor. And it seems like this linen garment is being shown off in a way. On display.  It’s a prophetic sign, which if it’s hiding under Jeremiah’s clothes, it’s hard to see how that could be a sign?! So I lean towards the outer-garment theory, but I think it’s more than just a little belt. That sounds too thin and not showy enough. It’s more like a sash? Or like a decorative outer garment that fits snugly around the waist and maybe holds tools or even weapons (like a toolbelt or a swordbelt?) or (because linen was the fabric of the priests) it might have held instruments of sacrifice for the temple or marked somebody off as holy. I think it really stood out.

We don’t know. But Jeremiah was told to go buy it, wear it, and not wash it.

And here’s where it really gets weird!

Jeremiah is told to go bury his snazzy new piece of clothing. Look at verse 3.

“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.”

You think it might have been weird to be a prophet?!

It’s especially weird when you find out where Perath was. Anybody know?  Well, we’re not 100% sure of this either. There was a place called “Parah” which was about 4 miles away from Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth. And many scholars think that Perath might have been a nickname for Parah. But whenever this word “Perath” shows up in the Old Testament, and it is coupled with the word “River,” it is always referring to the Euphrates River which was like 350 miles away! And they didn’t have cars.

So the LORD might have just sent Jeremiah on a many month journey just to bury his clothes in some rocks by a river! And then come home on a many month journey to his hometown and no longer be wearing his flashy new belt.

That might be the talk of the town. “What is Jeremiah doing now? First he buys that thing and wears it everywhere. He never washed it. So it started to get dirty and a little brittle. And then he was gone all that time, and now he says Yahweh told him to bury it in Perath. What is going on?”

It might have been a little fun to be a prophet sometimes when things got weird.

And then it got even weirder! What do think is next? Buy another belt? Nope. Go find the old one! V.6

“Many days later the LORD said to me, ‘Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.’ [Walking sounds!] 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 [surprise, surprise!] ruined and completely useless.”

If there was just one key word for Jeremiah chapter 13, I think it would be the word “ruined.”

This piece of garment had rotted. It has spoiled. It has been corrupted. It had, very predictably, decayed. It was “completely useless.” It was good for nothing. It was ruined.

I wonder if Jeremiah was supposed to wear it around town? Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe it would just fall off. It was too full of holes. It wouldn’t cling any longer. It didn’t fit. It shriveled and shrunk. It was ruined!

What do you think it stands for?

We don’t have to wonder. Jeremiah tells us. Look at verse 8.

“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. [There go their greatness.] 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!”

The linen garment stood for the people of Judah.

They had gone to form ungodly alliances with the people who lived in Mesopotamia near the Euphrates River. They had made alliances with Assyria. They were trying to appease the Chaldeans of Babylon.

Instead of trusting Yahweh. And worse, they had worshiped other gods than Yahweh. And they were fast becoming completely useless and ruined and headed for exile.

The ruined linen garment stood for the people of Judah. V.11

“For as a belt is bound around a man's waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.'”

It must have been weird to be a prophet like Jeremiah. Here he is being a broken record about a broken covenant yet again, but doing it, this time, by prominently displaying a ruined article of clothing.

Now, let’s come back to verse 11 as the last thing we look at again before we hear Johnathan tell his story. Because, obviously, I picked these words from that verse to be the title of this message, “My People For My Renown.”

But the key word right now is not “renown” but “ruined,” and the rest of the chapter shows just how ruined Judah was to be. Look at verse 12.

“‘Say to them: 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.' [That was probably a popular saying at least in the bars. Fill ‘em all up!] And if they say to you, 'Don't we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?' [Yeah, boy! Fill ‘em all up!] then tell them, 'This is what the LORD says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. I will smash them one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.'”

How ruined? Destroyed. Like a riotous bar fight where everybody is blind-drunk smashed, the Lord is going to smash Judah from the top down and without pity, mercy, or compassion. Ruined.

How ruined? Not just destroyed, but darkened. Verse 15. 

“Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom.”

Judgment is coming like somebody who spends the night (maybe a shepherd) on a mountainside, but then the morning never comes, just more darkness. And then even more darkness. [The Hebrew there is the same as the 23rd Psalm, the “the shadow of death.”]

And Jeremiah doesn’t like it one bit. He’s not happy about what is coming on his beloved Judah, but if they will not humble themselves and repent, then the ruinous darkness will fall.

And he will cry. V.17

“But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD's flock will be taken captive.”

They don’t call him the “weeping prophet” for nothing.

And in his weeping, Jeremiah reveals the heart of God who would love to show mercy and compassion on Judah, but they just keep on rejecting Him and rejecting Him and rejecting Him, so He must do the just thing and bring them to ruin.

Even the king. V.18

“Say to the king and to the queen mother, ‘Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads.’ The cities in the Negev will be shut up, and there will be no one to open them. All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away.”

He’s probably talking about King Jehoiachin and his mother Nehushta. We read about them in 2 Kings 24. He was Jehoiakim’s son and only lasted 3 months before Nebuchadnezzar carted him off into exile in 597 BC.

And what happened to them, would happen across the whole nation. They would be uprooted and sent into exile. V.20

“Lift up your eyes and see those who are coming from the north [Babylon]. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted? [Gone. Exiled. Uprooted.]  What will you say when the LORD sets over you those you cultivated as your special allies? Will not pain grip you like that of a woman in labor?”

The very people you trusted in instead of the LORD are now your oppressors?! And it hurts like labor pains.

And worse.

Verse 22. “And if you ask yourself, ‘Why has this happened to me?’–[which you shouldn’t because you should know it by now.]–it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated.”

The women of Judah are being violated as they are carted off to Babylon, yes– because of the sins of the Babylonians (and there is no excuse for them), but also because of the sins of Judah. This brutalization, too, is judgment because Judah would not repent.

It was almost like they could not repent. V.23

“Can the Ethiopian [literally the Cushite] change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

Now make sure you understand that he’s not saying that the Cushite (probably better updated to the “Sudanese” based on where Cush was located–he’s not saying that the Cushite’s) black skin was bad. Just like like the leopard’s spots are not bad. They are beautiful.

Black skin is beautiful skin!

But it isn’t changeable either. It’s permanent and fixed. And so was Judah’s evil. And therefore so will be Judah’s ruin. It was inevitable. V.24

“I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen–your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?’”

How long will you be ruined? Like a linen garment buried in the rocks next to a river. How long you going to be like that? 

Unrepentant of your idolatry, your spiritual adultery. And therefore unclean, shamefully exposed, humiliated, darkened, and destroyed? How long will you be ruined?

What’s the answer to that?

Well, Jeremiah chapter 13 doesn’t tell us. There isn’t even a hint that there is any hope. Just these disturbing images which we would rather not think about.

But the rest of the Bible does give us hope.

In fact, there is hope still to come in the Words of Jeremiah. Listen, for example, to chapter 33. I can’t hardly wait to preach the whole thing to you. But listen to this sample.

The short answer is, “Later. After the exile.” The exile is inevitable, but so is the return. Jeremiah 33:7.

“I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me [listen to these words] renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it'” (33:7-9, NIV84).

Same three words as our verse 11! "Renown, praise, and honor!"

But it gets better. We find out that there is an Ultimate Restoration that is even greater. And it involves a new and righteous Ruler. Listen to chapter 33, verse 14.

“‘The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.' For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel...” (Jer. 33:7-17 NIVO).

Anybody want to guess Who that is going to be?

It’s the Person that Johnathan Bobbert has decided to follow with his life.

It’s the Person who lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and came back to life to give us life! What this water represents!

It’s the Person Who restores light where there was deep darkness.

It’s the Person Who restores dignity where there was deep shame.

It’s the Person Who restores health where there was smashing destruction.

It’s the Person Who restores joy where there was nothing but depression.

It’s the Person Who could save us when we could not save ourselves.

He’s the One who could change us when we could not change ourselves.

It’s Jesus Christ!

He is the One has redeemed us from our ruin to His Renown!

Listen to what the book of Revelation says is given to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John has vision of the return of Christ in chapter 19. He says, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)” (Rev. 19:6-8 NIV84).

How long will we be unclean?

Just until we are covered by the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

So let’s look again at verse 11 and see what Judah was supposed to be that Jesus has made true of you and me. “For as a belt is bound around a man's waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor.”

Three very quick points of application, and Johnathan, these are for you, and they are for all of us who are baptized in Christ Jesus today.


He says that He “bound” His people to Himself. 

They were supposed to cling to Him, to stay near to Him.

To not wander off.

I know it’s a weird image, but we’re supposed to stay close to the Lord like a belt that He never takes off.

Don’t wander off!

I think the whole point of the weird journey to Perath was the separation between the prophet and his key piece of clothing.

Don’t let any daylight come between you and the Lord.

Stay close to Him.


The whole point of this weird belt was that it was supposed to bring attention to the wearer.

And Who was the wearer? God was! The people were the belt, and God was the belt-wearer. Verse 11, “I bound [them] to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor.”

That’s why we exist. And it’s why Jesus has saved us.

Johnathan, this is why Jesus has saved you, to be His for His fame and praise and honor.

Live your life as a display of His grace.

Like we learned about in Ephesians 2 at Family Bible Week.

“ is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, [to show off like artwork in an art gallery!] in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–  and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast [BUT GOD!] For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:5-10 NIV84).

So let’s do them! Let’s live our lives for His renown, and praise, and honor!

We want Jesus to get the glory!


On our own, we have ruined everything, but Jesus through His amazing grace has saved everything!

He has taken us from our ruin to His renown.

I asked Johnathan what his favorite Scripture verse is.

We have been studying the Gospel of John together, and he told me that it is John chapter 9, verse 25.

It says, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (Jn. 9:25 NIV84).

I think that sounds like a certain worship song I know. And I think we should sing it today as Johnathan gets baptized. "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a [ruined] wretch like me."

Because with His baptism, Johnathan is saying that he is not going to live for his own ruin, but for the LORD’s renown.

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25