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Jeremiah’s Linen Loincloth

13 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.” So I bought the loincloth as the Lord directed me, and I put it on.

Then the Lord gave me another message: “Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River.[a] Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the Lord had instructed me.

A long time afterward the Lord said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.” So 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.

Then I received this message from the Lord: “This is what the Lord says: This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These 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! 11 As 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. 14 I 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

15 Listen and pay attention!
    Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.
16 Give 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.
17 And 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.

18 Say 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.”
19 The 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.

20 Open 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?
21 What 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!
22 You 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.
23 Can an Ethiopian[b] 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.
25 This is your allotment,
    the portion I have assigned to you,”
    says the Lord,
“for you have forgotten me,
    putting your trust in false gods.
26 I myself will strip you
    and expose you to shame.
27 I 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?”

Judah’s Terrible Drought

14 This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord, explaining why he was holding back the rain:

“Judah wilts;
    commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt.
All the people sit on the ground in mourning,
    and a great cry rises from Jerusalem.
The nobles send servants to get water,
    but all the wells are dry.
The servants return with empty pitchers,
    confused and desperate,
    covering their heads in grief.
The ground is parched
    and cracked for lack of rain.
The farmers are deeply troubled;
    they, too, cover their heads.
Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn
    because there is no grass in the field.
The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills
    panting like thirsty jackals.
They strain their eyes looking for grass,
    but there is none to be found.”

The people say, “Our wickedness has caught up with us, Lord,
    but help us for the sake of your own reputation.
We have turned away from you
    and sinned against you again and again.
O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble,
    why are you like a stranger to us?
Why are you like a traveler passing through the land,
    stopping only for the night?
Are you also confused?
    Is our champion helpless to save us?
You are right here among us, Lord.
    We are known as your people.
    Please don’t abandon us now!”

10 So this is what the Lord says to his people:
“You love to wander far from me
    and do not restrain yourselves.
Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people.
    Now I will remember all your wickedness
    and will punish you for your sins.”

The Lord Forbids Jeremiah to Intercede

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore. 12 When they fast, I will pay no attention. When they present their burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.”

13 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The Lord will surely send you peace.’”

14 Then the Lord said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine! 16 As for the people to whom they prophesy—their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one left to bury them. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters—all will be gone. For I will pour out their own wickedness on them. 17 Now, Jeremiah, say this to them:

“Night and day my eyes overflow with tears.
    I cannot stop weeping,
for my virgin daughter—my precious people—
    has been struck down
    and lies mortally wounded.
18 If I go out into the fields,
    I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy.
If I walk the city streets,
    I see people who have died of starvation.
The prophets and priests continue with their work,
    but they don’t know what they’re doing.”

A Prayer for Healing

19 Lord, have you completely rejected Judah?
    Do you really hate Jerusalem?[c]
Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing?
    We hoped for peace, but no peace came.
    We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.
20 Lord, we confess our wickedness
    and that of our ancestors, too.
    We all have sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us.
    Do not disgrace your own glorious throne.
Please remember us,
    and do not break your covenant with us.

22 Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain?
    Does it fall from the sky by itself?
No, you are the one, O Lord our God!
    Only you can do such things.
    So we will wait for you to help us.

Footnotes

  1. 13:4 Hebrew Perath; also in 13:5, 6, 7.
  2. 13:23 Hebrew a Cushite.
  3. 14:19 Hebrew Zion?