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Some have questioned the possibility of Jeremiah’s having actually buried his belt at Perath (or by the Euphrates River), in view of the distance and the war conditions. However, there were periods in Jeremiah’s ministry when that whole area was at peace. It is not impossible Jeremiah may have actually made a visit to Babylon, and if so, this event could easily have taken place at that time, as he might have buried the belt on his way there and might have dug it up on his way back.
It is also probable to interpret the Hebrew word as meaning , not the Euphrates (or Perath) but the Wadi Farah, a few miles north of Jerusalem. In this case Jeremiah could have buried the belt at any time before the final Babylonian attack. Therefore there is reason to assume that this passage describes an actual event – not a vision or imaginary story.
Jeremiah’s ruined belt symbolizes Israel’s unsatisfactory life and service.
1. What are some of the more creative uses for a belt which you have come up with?
2. What metaphors do you see in this allegory (verses 1 – 6)? Why a linen belt? The hiding? The spoiling?
3. What does the allegory mean (verses 6 – 11). Why does God use an object lesson?
4. What is the meaning of the wineskin metaphor (verse 12)? Why belabor the obvious? What should be obvious to Judah?
5. Is Judah’s drunkenness literal or spiritual (verse 13; see also Jeremiah 25:15 – 29)? What’s the message in this for Judah to hear? For you?
6. Have there been times in your life when God used actions, even a “belting”, to speak louder than words? What happened? How did the message get through?
7. Jeremiah obeyed God instantly, without questioning. How will are you to go along with things that you don’t understand?
8. We try to convey God’s message through words and deeds. Which is easier for you? In what ways might one without the other confuse people? How can you share God’s message more clearly and openly?