Jeremiah’s Linen Belt
1This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist. Don’t let the belt get wet.”
2So I bought a linen belt, just as the Lord told me, and put it around my waist. 3Then the Lord spoke his word to me a second time: 4“Take the belt you bought and are wearing, and go to Perath. Hide the belt there in a crack in the rocks.” 5So I went to Perath and hid the belt there, just as the Lord told me.
6Many days later the Lord said to me, “Now go to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” 7So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from where I had hidden it. But now it was ruined; it was good for nothing.
8Then the Lord spoke his word to me. 9This is what the Lord said: “In the same way I will ruin the pride of the people of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10These evil people refuse to listen to my warnings. They stubbornly do only what they want to do, and they follow other gods to serve and worship them. So they will become like this linen belt—good for nothing. 11As a belt is wrapped tightly around a person’s waist, I wrapped the families of Israel and Judah around me,” says the Lord. “I did that so they would be my people and bring fame, praise, and honor to me. But my people would not listen.
Warnings About Leather Wine Bags
12“Say to them: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: All leather bags for holding wine should be filled with wine.’ People will say to you: ‘Of course, we know all wine bags should be filled with wine.’ 13Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will make everyone in this land like a drunken person—the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests and the prophets, and all the people who live in Jerusalem. 14I will make them smash against one another, fathers and sons alike, says the Lord. I will not feel sorry or have pity on them or show mercy that would stop me from destroying them.’ ”
Threat of Slavery
15Listen and pay attention.
Don’t be too proud,
because the Lord has spoken to you.
16Give glory to the Lord your God
before he brings darkness
and before you slip and fall
on the dark hills.
You hope for light,
but he will turn it into thick darkness;
he will change it into deep gloom.
17If you don’t listen to him,
I will cry secretly
because of your pride.
I will cry painfully,
and my eyes will overflow with tears,
because the Lord’s people will be captured.
18Tell this to the king and the queen mother:
“Come down from your thrones,
because your beautiful crowns
have fallen from your heads.”
19The cities of southern Judah are locked up,
and no one can open them.
All Judah will be taken as captives to a foreign land;
they will be carried away completely.
20Jerusalem, look up and see
the people coming from the north.
Where is the flock God gave you to care for,
the flock you bragged about?
21What will you say when they appoint as your heads
those you had thought were your friends?
Won’t you have much pain and trouble,
like a woman giving birth to a baby?
22You might ask yourself,
“Why has this happened to me?”
It happened because of your many sins.
Because of your sins, your skirt was torn off
and your body has been treated badly.
23Can a person from Cush change the color of his skin?
Can a leopard change his spots?
In the same way, Jerusalem, you cannot change and do good,
because you are accustomed to doing evil.
24“I will scatter you like chaff that is blown away by the desert wind.
25This is what will happen to you;
this is your part in my plans,” says the Lord.
“Because you forgot me
and trusted in false gods,
26I will pull your skirts up over your face
so everyone will see your shame.
27I have seen the terrible things you have done:
your acts of adultery and your snorting,
your hateful acts
on the hills and in the fields.
How terrible it will be for you, Jerusalem.
How long will you continue being unclean?”