Prophetic Illustrations

August 1 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 13-15 and Psalms 31

In the Old Testament, Prophets were often told to do things as object lessons in support of the prophetic word God had asked them to speak. These picture illustrations probably meant more to the general population than did all the long prophetic sermons these men would deliver. The “linen belt” in Chapter 13 is one such illustration. – “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. Many days later the LORD said to me, ‘Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.’ 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 ruined and completely useless.” (Jeremiah 13:4-7)

Priests always used linen when they were going to enter the presence of the Lord. It was considered the “holy” clothe in the Old Testament because it had properties of “breathing” and did not irritate the skin. Jeremiah wrapped one of these around his waist and declared that this was how God dealt previously with His people – considering them “holy” and wrapping them close to Himself. The belt however was not washed, and after some time became very dirty. The prophet then told the people that they too had not been “washed”, the cleansing that comes from repentance and turning their hearts faithfully to the Lord.

Next Jeremiah took the belt off and placed it out into the elements – in a crag in a rock where birds and little creatures could have at it – where the dirt, rain, wind, dust, and perhaps snow and mold could disintegrate, discolor and putrefy the belt till it was “ruined and completely useless”. Because of their own spiritual neglect, these people received the message that they too were being rejected by the Lord and would be ruined.

Throughout these doom and gloom prophecies we get the impression that all these things were happening to Israel because they continued to be obstinate and did not repent. We know enough of the character of God to know that if God can forgive Nineveh, he could certainly have forgiven Israel and not brought about the judgment that was prophesied. What was the problem then? It was the false prophets! They were all “prophesying” peace – peace – all is well – don’t sweat it – God is happy with us. Only one man was speaking the truth but no one would listen because of the “noise” being made by the false prophets.
In our day too, there are many “voices” that are not telling it like it is. People are distracted from God’s concern and heartache because they continually listen to voices that only want to satisfy the hearers. This is why we should keep ourselves in the Word of God and why we should learn to “turn off” voices that lead us off the path and purposes of God. Refuse to fill your minds with only the things that seem to feed your ego and lustful desires. Make sure you have a steady intake of the real heart of God.


1. Name some other Biblical illustrations that Old Testament prophets used to illustrate a message from God.
2. Give an example of how God has spoken to you personally through an illustration.