<< THE MARRED GIRDLE. >>
Thus said Jehovah unto me, Go, and buy thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. So I bought a girdle, according to the Word of Jehovah, and put it upon my loins. And the Word of Jehovah came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast bought, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there, in a cleft of the rock. So I went, and hid it by the Euphrates, as Jehovah comrnanded me. And it came to pass, after many days, that Jehoyah said unto me, Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. Then I went to the Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and behold, the girdle was marred ; it was profitable for nothing.-JEREMIAH xiii. 1-7.
EVEN the Lord's truth, when buried in our sensuous nature, loses all its heavenly quality, and serves no particular use.
The girdle was a conspicuous article of Oriental dress. The common girdle was made of leather, or of dyed muslin. Finer girdles were made of linen, and were often embroidered with silk, or with silver or gold thread. Sometimes, girdles were studded with precious stones, or pearls. In this way, the girdle was a good indication of the wealth and social position of itswearer. A fine and rich girdle gave evidence of the importance of its owner. Its use was to gather together the loose garrnents, at the wearer's waist, or loins, especially when moving about: otherwise, the long garments would be in the way of the feet. And so the girdle became a symbol of a bond, by which things are held together, and in good order. Spiritually, that which holds together the good and true principles of the church:, and joins them in a man's mind, is the truth taught In the Word of God.
The binding effect of the girdle is indicated in the context: " As the girdle cleaveth to the loins of man, so have I caused to cleave unto Me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah, saith Jehovah." And the means by which the Lord sought to hold the Jews, was the letter of the Divine Word, which was given to them for a guide, and for a binding force, to keep them in connection with the Lord. The girdle acted also as a brace to the body.
In our text, the girdle was of linen. Linen is the representative of righteousness, i.e., of a clean, pure, orderly life according to the Lord's commandments. We remember that, in John's vision, in the Apocalypse, it is said "the fine linen is the righteousness of saints;" meaning that linen represented righteousness. And a girdle made of linen represents the truth which is drawn from the Lord's Word, in the doctrine of the church, especially the practical application of the Ten Commandments to the daily life.
When a man arises, to walk, in the uses of life, and binds a girdle about his loins, his action represents the proper action of our minds, when we set out to do something; and when we use the truth of the Divine Word to regulate, and to keep in place, the good which is In our hearts, and for which we are acting. And this binding and uniting work of the girdle represents the conjoining effect of our Lord's truth, which, when used to brace us for our duty, binds us to our Lord, in love and in intelligence.
The prophet, through whom the Word of God was given, represented that Word. And the prophet binding up his clothing upon his loins, with the linen girdle, represented the Lord's coming to us, in His Word, and drawing us together with Him, that He might conjoin us with Him, and give us life more abundantly.
The seven angels who came out of the temple of God, as seen by John, in the Apocalyptic vision, were clothed in linen, clean and shining, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles." In the angelic state, which is the regenerate condition, men's minds are kept in order by the truths of the Divine Word, loved in a heavenly way. As we read in Isaiah xi. 5, " Justice shall be the girdle of thy loins, and truth the girdle of thy thighs."
The prophet was to buy the girdle, for that is the meaning of the word used in the text, although the common version of the Bible uses the word" get." To "buy" implies more effort than merely to "get." Spiritually, we buy certain conditions and qualities of character, by effort, and by giving something else for what we want. We buy a linen girdle, representatively, when we learn the truth of the Divine Word, by making a strong effort to acquire the truth, and by exchanging for it such notions as we had in our own natural thoughts. In the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, they had to buy oil, to keep their lamps in use; i.e.,we have to procure love for goodness and truth, in order that we may maintain intelligence in the light of truth.
HIDING THE GIRDLE.
Having bought the girdle, and using it a while, the prophet hid it in the cleft of a rock. The Orientals had a representative custom, by which, when they felt grieved at the action of a certain person, they burled some perishable article, on a river bank, or other damp place, until it was marred and spoiled by the dampness; thus expressing their opinion, and probably their wish, as to the final destiny of the man represented. Probably some malignant persons believed that such action would operate as a " spell" of sorcery, upon the intended victim, to drag him into bad luck. And so the pecuhar action of the prophet Jeremiah,was easily understood by the men of his day and nation.
But spiritually, a man hiding his girdle in a cleft of a rock, represents hiding the Divine Truth, in his own mind, by dropping it down into the obscure notions of his own natural senses, instead of keeping it in the higher places of his mind, to bind up and to keep in order, a!l things of his mind, in the walk of life. And when DIvine truths are thus hidden in the fallacies of the senses, they soon lose their vitality, and amount to nothing, in our practical life; for they are abused and turned into falsities, by our sensuous reasonings. Remember that those who feared the judgment of the Lord, hid themselves in the holes of the rocks. And those who dwell in such places represent a condition of mind which dwells in false ideas, hidden from the light of spiritual truth.
Jeremiah was to hide the girdle on the banks of the Euphrates river. The Euphrates was the border, or boundary, between Canaan and Assyria, Assyria is the representative of the reasoning ability, the rational faculty. In a good sense, it is the regenerate rational faculty, seeing spiritual truth in its own kind of light. But, in the seeing spiritual truth in its own kind of light. But, in the unregenerate man, the rational faculty is merely a reasoning ability, by which the man reasons in the light of his natural senses, and in the falsities of the natural mind, And the fact that the girdle was to be hidden in a cleft of the rock, in a damp place, without sunlight, indicates that, in this case, the Euphrates is mentioned in a bad sense, i.e., in its external, unregenerate, and disorderly form, For, when a man trusts to his unenlightened reason, he sees everything in a wrong way; because he sees everything from the standpoint of self, rather than from its relation to the Lord. And "if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness."
The natural man does not perceive spiritual or rational truths, until the Lord flows into the man's mind, and gives him illumination. And this the Lord does through the spiritual mind of the man, in the degree in which the man exerts himself to open his mind, to see spiritual truth. But when the man's spiritual mind is closed, he lives in his sensuous mind, in which truth becomes obscure.
It was quite a long distance for Jeremiah to travel from Jerusalern to the Euphrates. And this long journey represents the long-continued retrogression of the mind, in which the clear truth of the Lord's Word is gradually darkened and obscured, until it is entirely hidden in the fallacies and falsities of the natural senses. And the long journey of the prophet would naturally have made a strong impression upon the Jews, who would see how important must be the message which would require so much work to carry it out. And this journey had to be repeated when the prophet was sent again to get the girdle.
THE MARRED GIRDLE.
And when found, the girdle was marred, and so completely spoiled that it was "profitable for nothing;" i.e... it was not now of any use.
And the Jews could get something of the representative meaning of this enacted parable; for they could see that Jehovah had given them the church, with its clean and clear truths, and that the people had perverted all things of the church. At least, they could see that they had not continued to follow the Lord's ways, but had backslidden into disorderly ways of their own. And the marred girdle, once clean and beautiful, but now mouldy and utterly useless, stood before the Jews as a representative of their own degenerate conditon, and a prophecy of the miserable destiny awaiting them. As the clean girdle represented the property of a respected and worthy person, so the filthy and marred girdle stood for all that belongs to a degraded and degenerate man. And, looking at the expressive symbol, the thoughtful Jew might well consider that the girdle, hidden in the damp cleft of the rock, pre-figured the dispersion of the Jews, in captivity, in a foreign land, where, out of place, and in misery, their national pride would be humbled, their power lost, and their happiness destroyed.
Churches and individuals have sometimes begun a religious career, with some knowledge and love of the Lord's truth, as given in His holy Word, especially in the practical commandments of life. And what this condition is, is represented by the clean linen girdle, on the man's loins, holding his clothing in place, and giving him freedom of motion. But the marred girdle represents the condition of a man, or of a church, when the heart has lost interest in the Divine Truth, and when clear rational insight and intelligence have been closed, because the truths of the Lord have been immersed in the selfish reasoning of the senses, which favor the love of self and the love of the world, until even the Divine law has become marred and useless, in the degenerate mind, and there is no longer any spiritual binding. and union of the man's heart and life with the Lord. And then of such a man it is written, "God is not in all his thoughts." And to such a man the Lord says, " Without Me, ye can do nothing." "If thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away and worship other gods, and serve them, I denounce unto you, this day, that ye shall surely perish; and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it." (Deuteronomy xxx, 17-18.)
After showing the Jews the marred girdle, the prophet forcibly applied the lesson: "Thus saith Jehovah, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalern. This evil people, which refuse to hear My words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing." But the message and the parable speak to each of us, to-day, and with equal force. But, with us, the spiritual application is more easily seen, and more far-reaching in its results. Every man needs to secure the truth of the Lord's Word, and to keep that truth, as a spiritual girdle upon his mental loins; and to keep it clean and useful, for every-day service. No man, at any stage of his mental and spiritual progress, can afford to hide his spiritual girdle in the cleft of a rock, amid the sensuous reasonings of his natural mind, But, keeping always in mind the distinction between natural things and spiritual things, and maintaining, always, an orderly natural life of conduct, according to the Lord's commandments, we can meet every occasion with the truths of the Lord's Word, which will carry us into higher and higher conditions, in clear· spiritual light, to "the measure of a man, that is, of an angel." "And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins:"
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903