The Ruined Waistband
1Thus the Lord said to me, “Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it on your loins, but do not put it in water.” 2So I bought the waistband according to the word of the Lord and put it on my loins. 3Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, 4“Get up and take the waistband that you have bought, which is [wrapped] around your loins, and go to the [river] Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.” 5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord had commanded me. 6And after many days the Lord said to me, “Get up, go to the Euphrates and get the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.” 7Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the waistband was decayed and ruined; it was completely worthless.
8Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9“Thus says the Lord, ‘In this same way I shall destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10These wicked and malevolent people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubborn way of their heart and have followed other gods [which are nothing—just man-made carvings] to serve them and to worship them, let them be just like this waistband which is completely worthless. 11For as the waistband clings to the body of a man, so I caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory; but they did not listen and obey.’
12“Therefore you are to speak this word to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every jar should be filled with wine.” ’ The people will say to you, ‘Do we not already know that every jar should be filled with wine?’ 13Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to fill with drunkenness all the people of this land, even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all the people of Jerusalem. 14I will smash them one against another, both the fathers and the sons together,” says the Lord. “I shall destroy them [nothing will restrain Me]; I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion.” ’ ”
15Listen and pay close attention, do not be haughty and overconfident,
For the Lord has spoken [says Jeremiah].
16Give glory to the Lord your God,
Before He brings darkness
And before your feet stumble
On the dark and shadowy mountains,
And while you are longing for light
He turns it into the shadow of death,
And makes it into thick darkness.
17But if you will not listen and obey,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And flow with tears,
Because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.
18Say to the king and the queen mother,
“Humble yourselves and take a lowly seat,
For your beautiful crown [the crown of your glory]
Has come down from your head.”
19The cities of the South (the Negev) have been closed up,
And there is no one to open them;
All Judah has been carried into exile,
Completely carried away into exile.
20“Lift up your eyes and see
Those coming from the north.
Where is the flock that was given to you [to shepherd],
Your beautiful flock?
21What will you say [O Jerusalem] when the Lord appoints [foreign nations to rule] over you—
Those former friends and allies whom you have encouraged [to be your companions]—
Will not pain seize you
Like [that of] a woman in childbirth?
22And if you [wonder and] say in your heart,
‘Why have these things happened to me?’
It is because of the greatness and nature of your sin
That your skirts have been pulled away [subjecting you to public disgrace]
And [like a barefoot slave] your heels have been wounded.
23Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to evil and even trained to do it.
24Therefore I will scatter you like drifting straw
[Driven away] by the desert wind.
25This is your destiny, the portion [of judgment] measured to you
From Me,” says the Lord,
“Because you have forgotten Me
And trusted in [pagan] lies [the counterfeit gods, and the pretense of alliance].”
26“So I Myself will throw your skirts up over your face,
That your shame may be exposed [publicly].
27I have seen your vile and detestable acts,
Even your adulteries and your lustful neighings [after idols],
And the lewdness of your prostitution
On the hills in the fields.
Woe (judgment is coming) to you, O Jerusalem!
How long will you remain unclean [by ignoring My precepts]?”