Jeremiah 13

A linen belt

1 The Lord said to me, ‘Go and buy a linen belt. Tie it around your body. But do not put it into water.’ 2 So I bought a belt, as the Lord had told me to do. I tied it around me.

13:1The belt was a piece of cloth that would cover the lower part of a man's body and the top of his legs.

3 The Lord spoke to me again. 4 He said, ‘Take the belt that you bought and you are now wearing. Take it now to Perath. Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.’ 5 So I went to Perath. I hid it there, as the Lord had commanded me to do.

13:5‘Perath’ may have been a place near Jeremiah's home town of Anathoth. Or it may have been another name for the Euphrates River, which was more than 1,000 kilometres away.

6 Many days after that, the Lord said to me, ‘Now go to Perath again. Get the belt that I told you to hide there.’ 7 So I went back to Perath. I dug out the belt from the place where I had hidden it. But it had become spoiled. I could not use it any more.

8 Then the Lord said to me, 9 ‘I, the Lord, tell you this: See what happened to your belt. Now I will destroy everything that the people of Judah and Jerusalem are proud of. 10 Those wicked people refuse to listen to my words. They do whatever they want to do. They are too proud to change. They serve other gods and they worship them. Now they will become as useless as this linen belt. 11 I tell you this: My people should have been like a belt for me. I held all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah very near to me. I chose them to be my special people. They should have respected me and given me honour so that people would praise me. But they refused to obey me.

12 You must tell them, “The Lord, Israel's God, says this: People make wine bottles so that they can fill them with wine.” They may answer, “We know that is why people make wine bottles. Everyone knows that!” 13 Then tell them, “Now I will fill all the people who live in this land. I will fill the kings from David's family, the prophets, the priests and the people who live in Jerusalem. Yes, I will fill them all with so much wine that they become drunk! 14 I will knock them against each other, so that they break like bottles. I will punish everyone, parents and their children. I will not be sorry for them and I will not be kind to them. I will destroy them, and nothing can stop me.” That is what the Lord says.’

Jeremiah warns the people of Judah

15 ‘Listen carefully to me.

Do not be too proud to listen!

The Lord has spoken to you.

16 Give honour to the Lord your God,

before it is too late.

Do it before he makes everywhere become dark.

Then you will fall down,

like someone who walks on the mountains at night.

You may hope for light to come,

but God will make it completely dark.

13:16They will hope for God to come and rescue them, but he will send them away into exile.

17 If you refuse to listen to God's message,

I will hide myself and I will weep.

Because you are so proud,

tears will pour from my eyes.

I will cry because the Lord has sent his own people away

as prisoners to a foreign land.

18 Tell the king and his mother,

“Come down from your thrones.

Your beautiful crowns will soon fall from your heads.”

13:18This means that they will not continue to rule the people.

19 The cities in the south of Judah will keep their gates shut.

Nobody will go in or out of the cities.

Enemies will take the people of Judah away as prisoners.

They will take them all into exile.

20 Leaders of Jerusalem, look up!

See the enemy that is coming from the north.

What has happened to your people?

You were proud of them

and you should have taken care of them.

You are like shepherds who have lost their sheep.

21 The Lord will choose other people to rule over you.

They are people that you wanted to be your friends,

but now they will have power over you.

So what will you say about that?

You will be afraid and in much pain,

like a woman who is giving birth to a baby.

22 You may ask,

“Why are these things happening to me?”

It is because of your many terrible sins.

Like an adulteress, they have torn off your dress

to make you ashamed.

23 You have done evil things for a long time.

So you cannot now start to do good things.

Can anyone change the colour of his skin?

Can a leopard remove the marks on its body?

No! And you cannot change yourselves either.’

24 The Lord says,

‘I will blow you away,

as a hot desert wind blows away straw.

25 That is how I have decided to punish you.

It is what you deserve

because you have forgotten me.

You have trusted in false gods.

26 So I will cause you to be very ashamed,

like a woman whose dress they have removed.

27 People of Jerusalem,

you are in terrible trouble!

I have seen the disgusting things that you do.

You are like a woman who has not been faithful to her husband.

Like a prostitute, you look for other gods to serve.

You cannot control yourselves,

as you do disgusting things on the hills and in the fields.

Will you never be clean and pure again?’

13:27Jeremiah is telling the people in Jerusalem that God will use their enemies to punish them. God sees all the wrong things that they are doing. He knows that they do not respect him.