People Who Do Only What They Want to Do
13 1-2 God told me, “Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.” So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on.
3-5 Then God told me, “Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.” So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath.
6-7 Next, after quite a long time, God told me, “Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.” So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless.
8-11 God explained, “This is the way I am going to ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem—a wicked bunch of people who won’t obey me, who do only what they want to do, who chase after all kinds of no-gods and worship them. They’re going to turn out as rotten as these old shorts. Just as shorts clothe and protect, so I kept the whole family of Israel under my care”—God’s Decree—“so that everyone could see they were my people, a people I could show off to the world and be proud of. But they refused to do a thing I said.
12 “And then tell them this, ‘God’s Message, personal from the God of Israel: Every wine jug should be full of wine.’
“And they’ll say, ‘Of course. We know that. Every wine jug should be full of wine!’
13-14 “Then you’ll say, ‘This is what God says: Watch closely. I’m going to fill every person who lives in this country—the kings who rule from David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, the citizens of Jerusalem—with wine that will make them drunk. And then I’ll smash them, smash the wine-filled jugs—old and young alike. Nothing will stop me. Not an ounce of pity or mercy or compassion will slow me down. Every last drunken jug of them will be smashed!’”
The Light You Always Took for Granted
15-17 Then I said, Listen. Listen carefully: Don’t stay stuck in your ways!
It’s God’s Message we’re dealing with here.
Let your lives glow bright before God
before he turns out the lights,
Before you trip and fall
on the dark mountain paths.
The light you always took for granted will go out
and the world will turn black.
If you people won’t listen,
I’ll go off by myself and weep over you,
Weep because of your stubborn arrogance,
bitter, bitter tears,
Rivers of tears from my eyes,
because God’s sheep will end up in exile.
* * *
18-19 Tell the king and the queen-mother,
“Come down off your high horses.
Your dazzling crowns
will tumble off your heads.”
The villages in the Negev will be surrounded,
And Judah dragged off to exile,
the whole country dragged to oblivion.
* * *
20-22 Look, look, Jerusalem!
Look at the enemies coming out of the north!
What will become of your flocks of people,
the beautiful flocks in your care?
How are you going to feel when the people
you’ve played up to, looked up to all these years
Now look down on you? You didn’t expect this?
Surprise! The pain of a woman having a baby!
Do I hear you saying,
“What’s going on here? Why me?”
The answer’s simple: You’re guilty,
Your guilt has your life endangered,
your guilt has you writhing in pain.
23 Can an African change skin?
Can a leopard get rid of its spots?
So what are the odds on you doing good,
you who are so long-practiced in evil?
24-27 “I’ll blow these people away—
like wind-blown leaves.
You have it coming to you.
I’ve measured it out precisely.”
“It’s because you forgot me
and embraced the Big Lie,
that so-called god Baal.
I’m the one who will rip off your clothes,
expose and shame you before the watching world.
Your obsessions with gods, gods, and more gods,
your goddess affairs, your god-adulteries.
Gods on the hills, gods in the fields—
every time I look you’re off with another god.
O Jerusalem, what a sordid life!
Is there any hope for you!”
Time and Again We’ve Betrayed God
14 1-6 God’s Message that came to Jeremiah regarding the drought:
her cities mourn.
The people fall to the ground, moaning,
while sounds of Jerusalem’s sobs rise up, up.
The rich people sent their servants for water.
They went to the cisterns, but the cisterns were dry.
They came back with empty buckets,
wringing their hands, shaking their heads.
All the farm work has stopped.
Not a drop of rain has fallen.
The farmers don’t know what to do.
They wring their hands, they shake their heads.
Even the doe abandons her fawn in the field
because there is no grass—
Eyes glazed over, on her last legs,
nothing but skin and bones.”
7-9 We know we’re guilty. We’ve lived bad lives—
but do something, God. Do it for your sake!
Time and time again we’ve betrayed you.
No doubt about it—we’ve sinned against you.
Hope of Israel! Our only hope!
Israel’s last chance in this trouble!
Why are you acting like a tourist,
taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow?
Why do you just stand there and stare,
like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis?
But God, you are, in fact, here, here with us!
You know who we are—you named us!
Don’t leave us without a leg to stand on.
10 Then God said of these people:
“Since they loved to wander this way and that,
never giving a thought to where they were going,
I will now have nothing more to do with them—
except to note their guilt and punish their sins.”
The Killing Fields
11-12 God said to me, “Don’t pray that everything will turn out all right for this people. When they skip their meals in order to pray, I won’t listen to a thing they say. When they redouble their prayers, bringing all kinds of offerings from their herds and crops, I’ll not accept them. I’m finishing them off with war and famine and disease.”
13 I said, “But Master, God! Their preachers have been telling them that everything is going to be all right—no war and no famine—that there’s nothing to worry about.”
14 Then God said, “These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies. I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them. The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark.
15-16 “So this is my verdict on them: All the preachers who preach using my name as their text, preachers I never sent in the first place, preachers who say, ‘War and famine will never come here’—these preachers will die in war and by starvation. And the people to whom they’ve been preaching will end up as corpses, victims of war and starvation, thrown out in the streets of Jerusalem unburied—no funerals for them or their wives or their children! I’ll make sure they get the full brunt of all their evil.
17-18 “And you, Jeremiah, will say this to them:
“‘My eyes pour out tears.
Day and night, the tears never quit.
My dear, dear people are battered and bruised,
hopelessly and cruelly wounded.
I walk out into the fields,
shocked by the killing fields strewn with corpses.
I walk into the city,
shocked by the sight of starving bodies.
And I watch the preachers and priests
going about their business as if nothing’s happened!’”
19-22 God, have you said your final No to Judah?
Can you simply not stand Zion any longer?
If not, why have you treated us like this,
beaten us nearly to death?
We hoped for peace—
nothing good came from it;
We looked for healing—
and got kicked in the stomach.
We admit, O God, how badly we’ve lived,
and our ancestors, how bad they were.
We’ve sinned, they’ve sinned,
we’ve all sinned against you!
Your reputation is at stake! Don’t quit on us!
Don’t walk out and abandon your glorious Temple!
Remember your covenant.
Don’t break faith with us!
Can the no-gods of the godless nations cause rain?
Can the sky water the earth by itself?
You’re the one, O God, who does this.
So you’re the one for whom we wait.
You made it all,
you do it all.