Jeremiah’s Linen Belt
1This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt. Then 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 I 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. 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. Get the belt that I told you to hide there.” 7So I went to Perath and dug up the belt. I 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. They follow other gods to serve and worship them. So they will become like this linen belt. They will be good for nothing. 11A belt is wrapped tightly around a man’s waist. In the same way I wrapped the families of Israel and Judah around me,” says the Lord. “I did that so they would be my people. Then they would bring fame, praise and honor to me. But my people would not listen to me.
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 man. I am talking about the kings who sit on David’s throne. I am also talking about the priests and the prophets. I am talking about all the people who live in Jerusalem. 14I will make the people of Judah stumble and fall into one another. Fathers and sons will fall into one another, says the Lord. I will not feel sorry or have pity for them. My mercy will not stop me from destroying them!’”
Threat of Slavery
15Listen and pay attention.
Don’t be too proud.
The Lord has spoken to you.
16Honor the Lord your God.
Give him glory before he brings darkness.
Praise him before you fall
on the dark hills.
You hope for light.
But the Lord will turn it into thick darkness.
He will change it into deep gloom.
17If you don’t listen to the Lord,
I will cry secretly.
Your pride will cause me to cry.
I will cry painfully.
My eyes will overflow with tears.
This is because the Lord’s people will be captured.
18Tell this to the king and queen mother:
“Come down from your thrones.
Your beautiful crowns
have fallen from your heads.”
19The cities in the desert of southern Judah are shut up.
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.
Someone comes from the north.
Where is the flock God gave to you to care for?
It is 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?
Your pain will be like that of a woman having 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.
23A black man from Cush cannot change the color of his skin.
A leopard cannot change his spots.
In the same way, Jerusalem, you cannot change and do good.
You always do 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.
“This will happen because you forgot me.
You have trusted in false gods.
26Jerusalem, I will pull your skirts up over your face.
Everyone will see you, and you will be ashamed.
27I have seen the terrible things you have done.
I know your acts of adultery and your snorting.
I have seen you acting like a prostitute.
I have seen your hated acts
on the hills and in the fields.
How terrible it will be for you, Jerusalem.
How long will you continue being unclean?”