Eternal One: Go and buy a linen undergarment; put it around your waist next to your body beneath your clothes, but do not wash it.
2 So I bought the undergarment, just as the Eternal had told me, and put it around my waist. 3 Then the Eternal spoke to me a second time.
Eternal One:4 Now take off this undergarment you’ve purchased and have been wearing around your waist, and go to the Euphrates. I want you to hide it in a crevice in the rocks there.
5 So I took the undergarment to the Euphrates and hid it in the rocks, just as the Eternal told me. 6 After many days had passed, the Eternal spoke to me a third time.
Eternal One: Now go back to the Euphrates, and get the linen undergarment I told you to hide there.
7 When I went back and dug up this garment from the place where I’d hidden it, I found it had begun to rot. This garment that was once new and clean was now completely worthless. 8 The word of the Eternal came to me to drive home His point.
At times God’s message given through Jeremiah must be acted out. He wants so badly for His people to understand, that mere words aren’t sufficient. This is one such moment.
Eternal One:9 Mark My words, for the same thing will happen to the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 I will ruin these haughty and wicked people who ignore My words, who follow their own stubborn hearts, who run after other gods, who bow down to lifeless idols. They will end up like this rotten undergarment in your hands—completely worthless! 11 Just as the undergarment clings to a person’s waist, so did I, the Eternal One, make Israel and Judah to cling tightly to Me. They were to be My people, known by all, bringing honor and glory to My name. That was My plan for them, but they did not listen.
This is the first of several symbolic actions or prophetic dramas in the book. God made Israel and Judah to stick close to him—as close as an undergarment—but because they disobey Him and refuse to live within the bonds of the covenant, God will bury them in exile, and they will be ruined.
Eternal One:12 Speak this word to the people as well: “Listen to what the Eternal, the God of Israel, has to say: ‘Every jug will be filled with wine.’ When they respond, ‘Tell us something we don’t already know, prophet! Don’t you think we know that every jug will be filled with wine?’ 13 Go on telling them, ‘This is what the Eternal says: “I am going to fill all who live in this land with drunkenness—the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the false prophets, and all the citizens of Jerusalem. 14 And then I will smash them together in confusion and panic—smashing fathers against sons in the chaos of the enemy invasion. I will have no pity on them. My sorrow or compassion will not keep Me from ruining them.”’”
15 Listen carefully to me! Stop being so smug, because the Eternal has spoken. 16 It is time to honor the Eternal your God before He makes the darkness fall and you stumble on the darkening mountains. You will long for the light, but He will make the darkness deepen as the gloom settles in. 17 If you still won’t listen, I will weep for you in secret. From the depths of my soul, I will cry bitter tears, Because the Eternal’s own flock will be taken captive. 18 Tell the king and the queen mother: “Come down from your thrones, and take a seat in a humble place, for your glorious crowns will be taken from you.” 19 The cities in the Negev have already shut their gates. There will be no one to open them. The people of Judah will be taken captive, all of them carried away into exile.
20 (to Jerusalem) Now look to the north and see who is marching toward you. Where is the beautiful flock that was entrusted to you? 21 What will you say when He appoints your so-called allies, the very ones you trained, to rule over you? Will not the pain stab at you as it does a woman in childbirth? 22 When you begin to ask yourself, “Why is all this happening to me?” know this: it is because of the weight of your sins. This is why your enemies will tear off your skirts and violate your bodies. 23 And still, you will not change. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can a leopard change its spots? It seems just as unlikely that you will change your ways and do good, when you are so used to doing evil—it has become such a part of you.
24 Eternal One(to His people): This is why I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. 25 This is now your fate—retribution measured out for you from the Eternal— for you have forgotten Me and trusted in the lies of another. 26 For all this, I will be the One who lifts your skirts over your face, exposing you and letting others see your disgrace. 27 As for your faithlessness, your adulteries and your lustful ways, as for the degrading way you prostitute yourself to other gods out in the open, I see it all. For all this, your fate is sealed. O Jerusalem—how bad it will be for you! How long before you are clean again?
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