When cargo shorts first hit the scene as popular clothing for men, my first thought for those who wore them constantly was, “you just don’t care anymore, do you?” Because young men are not going to iron these cotton linen shorts, they looked wrinkled, unkept, with bulging pockets full of useless items. Cargo shorts and t-shirts were “the thing” now pajama bottoms, a new low, are acceptable as attire to be seen while in public. Dressing up? Just put on your best joggers!
It’s is extremely amusing to me for God to use linen shorts as a way to illustrate the apathy and selfishness of His people to Jeremiah. Read on, I think you’ll get the implications of the rotten shorts that display rotten attitudes and behaviors of God’s chosen that will lead to their demise and death, the consequences of their sin.
Warren Wiersbe, Commentator also helps us understand the concept. “This was one of Jeremiah’s action sermons. The loincloth was a thigh-length undergarment worn next to the skin. God had brought the nation close to himself, but they had defiled themselves with idols and become “profitable for nothing”. When the people saw Jeremiah bury his new garment under a rock in the muddy river, they knew it would ruin the garment, but they didn’t realize they were passing judgment on themselves. God would one day take Judah to Babylon, and there He would humble the Judahites and cure them of their idolatry.”
Jeremiah 13, The Message
People Who Do Only What They Want to Do
1-2 God told me, “Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.” So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on.
3-5 Then God told me, “Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.” So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath.
6-7 Next, after quite a long time, God told me, “Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.” So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless.
8-11 God explained, “This is the way I am going to ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem—a wicked bunch of people who won’t obey me, who do only what they want to do, who chase after all kinds of no-gods and worship them. They’re going to turn out as rotten as these old shorts. Just as shorts clothe and protect, so I kept the whole family of Israel under my care”—God’s Decree—“so that everyone could see they were my people, a people I could show off to the world and be proud of. But they refused to do a thing I said.
12 “And then tell them this, ‘God’s Message, personal from the God of Israel: Every wine jug should be full of wine.’
“And they’ll say, ‘Of course. We know that. Every wine jug should be full of wine!’
13-14 “Then you’ll say, ‘This is what God says: Watch closely. I’m going to fill every person who lives in this country—the kings who rule from David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, the citizens of Jerusalem—with wine that will make them drunk. And then I’ll smash them, smash the wine-filled jugs—old and young alike. Nothing will stop me. Not an ounce of pity or mercy or compassion will slow me down. Every last drunken jug of them will be smashed!’”
The Light You Always Took for Granted
15-17 Then I said, Listen. Listen carefully: Don’t stay stuck in your ways!
It’s God’s Message we’re dealing with here.
Let your lives glow bright before God
before he turns out the lights,
Before you trip and fall
on the dark mountain paths.
The light you always took for granted will go out
and the world will turn black.
If you people won’t listen,
I’ll go off by myself and weep over you,
Weep because of your stubborn arrogance,
bitter, bitter tears,
Rivers of tears from my eyes,
because God’s sheep will end up in exile.
* * *
18-19 Tell the king and the queen-mother,
“Come down off your high horses.
Your dazzling crowns
will tumble off your heads.”
The villages in the Negev will be surrounded,
And Judah dragged off to exile,
the whole country dragged to oblivion.
* * *
20-22 Look, look, Jerusalem!
Look at the enemies coming out of the north!
What will become of your flocks of people,
the beautiful flocks in your care?
How are you going to feel when the people
you’ve played up to, looked up to all these years
Now look down on you? You didn’t expect this?
Surprise! The pain of a woman having a baby!
Do I hear you saying,
“What’s going on here? Why me?”
The answer’s simple: You’re guilty,
Your guilt has your life endangered,
your guilt has you writhing in pain.
23 Can an African change skin?
Can a leopard get rid of its spots?
So what are the odds on you doing good,
you who are so long-practiced in evil?
24-27 “I’ll blow these people away—
like wind-blown leaves.
You have it coming to you.
I’ve measured it out precisely.”
“It’s because you forgot me
and embraced the Big Lie,
that so-called god Baal.
I’m the one who will rip off your clothes,
expose and shame you before the watching world.
Your obsessions with gods, gods, and more gods,
your goddess affairs, your god-adulteries.
Gods on the hills, gods in the fields—
every time I look you’re off with another god.
O Jerusalem, what a sordid life!
Is there any hope for you!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Don’t wear cargo shorts? No, that isn’t what we’re saying. Cargo shorts are/were intended for a specific use—hiking—to hold needed supplies and be hands free to climb challenging terrain, if necessary. We are created and chosen by God for very specific purposes. Later, Jeremiah will tell the people this truth very specifically. “I know the plans I have for you…” that will teach us greater lessons. When we give up and seek comfort alone from our phone idols and other distracting technology or people, we are not following God’s plan. When our idols of distraction draw us away from God, we are not following God’s desires for us that are just waiting for us to grasp. We are an apathetic people these days not unlike the people in Jeremiah’s days. We like to please others, be liked by all, have it all, and be recognized as a person of worth by the world’s standards.
But, seeking self leads to “no hope” as God told His people. Seeking God, leaving everything else behind, is a whole new way of thinking that leads to life and more life!
Jeremiah compared the nation to a hiker on an unfamiliar and dangerous mountain trail without a map and without light, hoping for the dawn. (No supplies in his/her cargo shorts?) Instead of the light dawning, however, the darkness would only deepen. In centuries past, God had led His people by pillars of cloud and fire. Now He wanted to lead them through the words of His prophet, but the people wouldn’t follow.
If we reject God’s light, nothing remains but darkness. The leaders were too proud to admit they were lost, and they wouldn’t ask for directions. Isn’t that just like us, at times? Sin had so cheapened the kingdom of Judah that the people were worthless, fit only to be blown away. They had forgotten their Lord and had believed lies and would not repent of their sins.
We have Hope. That Hope came as a child born to a virgin and her espoused husband to raise as the Son of Man and the Son of God. His name is Jesus. Jesus died for all our sins—our selfishness, our apathy, our idol believing, and turning away from God. Jesus rose from the grave, defeating death forever, making this Hope of eternal life possible for you and I. Why? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” THIS is God’s Plan for us, His desire for us to be set free from all our sins.
Believe and be saved. Leave the captivity of sin—all that God isn’t—and live with “Christ in us” directing our lives in ways that restores hope and joy, renews our spirits, cleanses our hearts, while transforming our minds from worldview thinking to Kingdom of God thinking. Follow the One who loves you most.
Thank you for saving me from myself and my sins. Thank you for restoring the hope, joy, and peace to my soul. I have no regrets in saying yes to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen