Verse 1-11 — It was usual with the prophets to teach by signs. And we have the explanation, ver.9-11. The people of Israel had been to God as this girdle. He caused them to cleave to him by the law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the favours he showed them. They had by their idolatries and sins buried themselves in foreign earth, mingled among the nations, and were so corrupted that they were good for nothing. If we are proud of learning, power, and outward privileges, it is just with God to wither them. The minds of men should be awakened to a sense of their guilt and danger; yet nothing will be effectual without the influences of the Spirit.
Verse 12-17 — As the bottle was fitted to hold the wine, so the sins of the people made them vessels of wrath, fitted for the judgments of God; with which they should be filled till they caused each other's destruction. The prophet exhorts them to give glory to God, by confessing their sins, humbling themselves in repentance, and returning to his service. Otherwise they would be carried into other countries in all the darkness of idolatry and wickedness. All misery, witnessed or foreseen, will affect a feeling mind, but the pious heart must mourn most over the afflictions of the Lord's flock.
Verse 18-27 — Here is a message sent to king Jehoiakim, and his queen. Their sorrows would be great indeed. Do they ask, Wherefore come these things upon us? Let them know, it is for their obstinacy in sin. We cannot alter the natural colour of the skin; and so is it morally impossible to reclaim and reform these people. Sin is the blackness of the soul; it is the discolouring of it; we were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any power of our own. But Almighty grace is able to change the Ethiopian's skin. Neither natural depravity, nor strong habits of sin, form an obstacle to the working of God, the new-creating Spirit. The Lord asks of Jerusalem, whether she is determined not be made clean. If any poor slave of sin feels that he could as soon change his nature as master his headstrong lusts, let him not despair; for things impossible to men are possible with God. Let us then seek help from Him who is mighty to save.