A Linen Belt
1The Lord said to me, “Go and buy a linen belt. Put it around your waist. But do not let it get wet.” 2 So I bought a belt, just as the Lord had told me to do. And I put it around my waist.
3 Then another message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 4 “Take off the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist. Go to Perath. Hide the belt there in a crack in the rocks.” 5 So I went and hid it at Perath. I did just as the Lord had told me to do.
6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go to Perath. Get the belt I told you to hide there.” 7 So I went to Perath. I dug up the belt. I took it from the place where I had hidden it. But it had rotted. It was completely useless.
8 Then another message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 9 “In the same way, I will destroy Judah’s pride. And I will destroy the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These people are evil. They refuse to listen to what I say. They do what their stubborn hearts want them to do. They chase after other gods. They serve them and worship them. So they will be like this belt. They will be completely useless. 11 A belt is tied around a person’s waist. In the same way, I tied all the people of Israel to me. I also tied all the people of Judah to me like a belt. I wanted them to be my people. They should have brought me fame and praise and honor. But they have not listened to me,” announces the Lord.
12 “Tell them, ‘The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, “Every wineskin should be filled with wine.” ’ Here is what the people might say to you. ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ 13 If they do, here is what you must tell them. ‘The Lord says, “I am going to fill with wine everyone who lives in this land. I will make the kings who sit on David’s throne drunk. And I will fill with wine the priests, the prophets and everyone who lives in Jerusalem. 14 I will smash them against one another. I will punish parents and children alike,” announces the Lord. “I will not feel sorry for them. I will not show them any kindness. My tender love for them will not keep me from destroying them.” ’ ”
Judah Will Be Taken Away From Their Land
15 People of Judah, listen to me.
Pay attention and don’t be proud.
The Lord has spoken.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God.
Honor him before he sends
darkness to cover the land.
Do this before you trip and fall
on the darkened hills.
You hope that light will come.
But he will turn it into thick darkness.
He will change it to deep shadows.
17 If you don’t listen,
I will weep in secret.
Because you are so proud,
I will weep bitterly.
Tears will flow from my eyes.
The Lord’s flock will be taken away as prisoners.
18 Speak to the king and his mother. Tell them,
“Come down from your thrones.
Your glorious crowns
are about to fall from your heads.”
19 The gates of the cities in the Negev Desert will be shut tight.
There won’t be anyone to open them.
Everyone in Judah will be carried away as prisoners.
You will be completely taken away.
20 Jerusalem, look up!
Your enemies are coming from the north.
Where is the flock you were supposed to take care of?
Where are the sheep you were so proud of?
21 You have worked hard to make special friends.
But the Lord will let them rule over you.
Then what will you say?
Suffering will take hold of you.
It will be like the pain of a woman having a baby.
22 Suppose you ask yourself,
“Why has this happened to me?”
It’s because you have committed so many sins.
That’s the reason your skirt has been torn off.
That’s why your body has been treated so badly.
23 Can people from Ethiopia change their skin?
Can leopards change their spots?
It’s the same with you.
You have always done what is evil.
So how can you do what is good?
24 The Lord says, “I will scatter you like straw
that the desert wind blows away.
25 This is what will happen to you.
I have appointed it for you,” announces the Lord.
“You have forgotten me.
You have trusted in other gods.
26 So I will pull your skirt up over your face.
Then people will see the shame of your naked body.
27 They will see that you have not been faithful to me.
You have committed adultery with other gods.
And you have acted like a prostitute
who does not have any shame.
I have seen what you did
on the hills and in the fields.
And I hate it.
How terrible it will be for you, Jerusalem!
How long will you choose to be ‘unclean’?”