Jeremiah’s Linen Loincloth
1This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.” 2So I bought the loincloth as the Lord directed me, and I put it on.
3Then the Lord gave me another message: 4“Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.” 5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord had instructed me.
6A long time afterward the Lord said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.” 7So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it. But now it was rotting and falling apart. The loincloth was good for nothing.
8Then I received this message from the Lord: 9“This is what the Lord says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. 10These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth—good for nothing! 11As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.
12“So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: May all your jars be filled with wine.’ And they will reply, ‘Of course! Jars are made to be filled with wine!’
13“Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the Lord means: I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness—from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem. 14I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the Lord. I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.’”
A Warning against Pride
15Listen and pay attention!
Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.
16Give glory to the Lord your God
before it is too late.
Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you,
causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains.
For then, when you look for light,
you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.
17And if you still refuse to listen,
I will weep alone because of your pride.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.
18Say to the king and his mother,
“Come down from your thrones
and sit in the dust,
for your glorious crowns
will soon be snatched from your heads.”
19The towns of the Negev will close their gates,
and no one will be able to open them.
The people of Judah will be taken away as captives.
All will be carried into exile.
20Open up your eyes and see
the armies marching down from the north!
Where is your flock—
your beautiful flock—
that he gave you to care for?
21What will you say when the Lord takes the allies you have cultivated
and appoints them as your rulers?
Pangs of anguish will grip you,
like those of a woman in labor!
22You may ask yourself,
“Why is all this happening to me?”
It is because of your many sins!
That is why you have been stripped
and raped by invading armies.
23Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?
Can a leopard take away its spots?
Neither can you start doing good,
for you have always done evil.
24“I will scatter you like chaff
that is blown away by the desert winds.
25This is your allotment,
the portion I have assigned to you,”
says the Lord,
“for you have forgotten me,
putting your trust in false gods.
26I myself will strip you
and expose you to shame.
27I have seen your adultery and lust,
and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills.
What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem!
How long before you are pure?”