The Sign of the Loincloth
This is what the LORD said to me: “Jeremiah, go and buy a linen loincloth.* Then put it around your waist. Don’t let it get wet.”
So I bought a linen loincloth, just as the LORD told me to do, and I put it around my waist. Then the message from the LORD came to me a second time. This was the message: “Jeremiah, take the loincloth you bought and are wearing, and go to Perath. Hide the loincloth there in a crack in the rocks.”
So I went to Perath and hid the loincloth there, just as the LORD told me to do. Many days later the LORD said to me, “Now, Jeremiah, go to Perath. Get the loincloth that I told you to hide there.”
So I went to Perath and dug the loincloth out of the crack in the rocks where I had hidden it. But now I could not wear the loincloth, because it was ruined. It was not good for anything.
Then the message from the LORD came to me. This is what the LORD said: “The loincloth is ruined and not good for anything. In the same way, I will ruin the proud people of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 I will ruin them because they refuse to listen to my messages. They are stubborn and do only what they want to do. They follow and worship other gods. They will be like this linen loincloth. They will be ruined and not good for anything. 11 A loincloth is wrapped tightly around a man’s waist. In the same way, I wrapped the family of Israel and the family of Judah around me.” This message is from the LORD. “I did that so that they would be my people and bring me fame, praise, and honor. But my people did not listen to me.”
Warnings to Judah
12 Jeremiah, say to the people of Judah: ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ They will laugh and say to you, ‘Of course, we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ 13 Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will make everyone who lives in this land helpless, like a drunken man. I am talking about the kings who sit on David’s throne. I am also talking about the priests, the prophets, and all the people who live in Jerusalem. 14 I will make them stumble and fall against each another, even the fathers and sons.’ This message is from the LORD. ‘I will not feel sorry or have pity for them. I will not allow compassion to stop me from destroying the people of Judah.’ ”
15 Listen and pay attention.
The LORD has spoken to you.
Do not be proud.
16 Honor the LORD your God.
Praise him or he will bring darkness.
Praise him before you fall on the dark hills.
You people of Judah are hoping for light,
but the Lord will turn the light into thick darkness.
He will change it into the deepest gloom.
17 If you people of Judah don’t listen to him,
I will hide and cry.
Your pride will cause me to cry.
I will cry very hard.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
because the LORD’S flock will be captured.
18 Tell these things to the king and his wife,
Come down from your thrones.
Your beautiful crowns have fallen from your heads.”
19 The cities in the Negev are locked.
No one can open them.
All the people of Judah have been taken away as captives.
They were carried away as prisoners.
20 Jerusalem, look!
The enemy is coming from the north§!
Where is the flock* you were once in charge of?
That beautiful flock is gone now.
21 I will let your enemies become your rulers
people you once trusted with your secrets.
What will you say then?
Surely you will feel great pain,
like a woman giving birth.
22 You might ask yourself,
Why has this bad thing happened to me?”
It happened because of your many sins.
Because of your sins, your skirt was torn off,
and your sandals were taken away.
They did this to embarrass you.
23 A black man cannot change the color of his skin,
and a leopard cannot change its spots.
In the same way, Jerusalem, you cannot change and do good.
You always do bad things.
24 “I will force you to leave your homes.
You will run in all directions.
You will be like chaff blown away by the desert wind.
25 This is what will happen to you.
This is your part in my plans.”
This message is from the LORD.
Why will this happen?
Because you forgot me.
You trusted false gods.
26 Jerusalem, I will pull your skirt up over your face.
Everyone will see you,
and you will be ashamed.
27 I saw the terrible things you did.
I saw you laughing and having sex with your lovers.
I know about your plans to be like a prostitute.
I have seen you on the hills and in the fields.
It will be very bad for you, Jerusalem.
How long will you continue doing your dirty sins?”
* 13:1 loincloth A common undergarment in ancient Judah. It was a short skirt that was wrapped around the hips. It reached about halfway down the thighs. 13:4 Perath Probably a village near Jerusalem. This town is called Parah in the list of the cities of the land of Benjamin in Josh. 18:23. But this name also means the Euphrates River. 13:17 LORD’S flock This is a figurative name for the people of Judah. The Lord is thought of as a shepherd, while his people are seen as his flock of sheep. § 13:20 north The Babylonian army came from this direction to attack Judah. Armies from countries north and east of Israel often came this way to attack Judah and Israel. * 13:20 flock Here, the word “flock” refers to all the towns around Jerusalem, as if Jerusalem were the shepherd and the towns of Judah were her flock. 13:27 I saw … you did This is probably talking about worshiping false gods. But part of that worship was having sex with temple prostitutes.