Jeremiah 13

A belt that someone has made from cloth

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

3 The Lord spoke to me again. 4 ‘Take the belt that you bought. You are now wearing it. Take it to the River Euphrates and hide it in a hole in the rocks.’ 5 So I went. And I hid it at the River Euphrates as the Lord had said to me.

6 Many days after that, the Lord said to me, ‘Now go to the River Euphrates. Get the belt that I sent you to hide there.’ 7 So I went to the River Euphrates, to the place where I had hidden the belt. I dug it up. But it was dirty and I could not use it.

8 Then the Lord spoke to me.

9 ‘I will destroy everything that has any value in Judah and in Jerusalem. I will make it like this belt. 10 These people are very bad. They refuse to listen to my words. They do what they want. They work for other gods and they worship them,’ he said. ‘They will be like this linen belt. Nobody will be able to use them for anything. 11 My people are like a belt. I tied all Israel's people and all Judah's people round myself. They should have been my people and they should have brought honour and praise to me. But they have not listened to me.’

12 ‘You must speak to them. Say, “ ‘People should fill with wine every skin of a goat that is to keep wine in,’ says the Lord.” They may answer, “We know that.” 13 Then say to them, “I will make all the people who live in this country become like drunks. All the kings, prophets, priests and people who live in Jerusalem will be like drunks. 14 I will hit them against each other like jars, whether they are old or young”, says the Lord. “I will not be sorry for them and I will not be kind to them. I will destroy them, and nothing can stop me.” ’

The people must not think that they are better than other people.

15 Listen to me.

Listen very carefully.

Do not think that you do not need to listen!

The Lord has spoken.

16 Give honour to the Lord your God,

before he makes it dark.

Then your feet will not find the path,

as the hills become dark.

You want it to get light.

But God will make it very dark.

17 If you do not listen,

I will weep in secret.

You think that you do not need the Lord.

That is why I will cry.

Water will fall from my eyes

like a great river.

This will happen because the Lord will make his people prisoners.

18 Speak to the king and to the queen, his mother.

Say, ‘Come down from your thrones.

The gold crowns will 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 not be open,

and there will be nobody to open them.

Enemies will take all the people in Judah to a foreign country.

They will take them away completely.

20 Look up. See people who are coming from the north.

The people that made you important are gone.

You are like shepherds who have lost their sheep.

21 The Lord will give your authority to other people.

People from the country that was your special friend will rule over you.

You will have pain,

pain like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.

22 You may ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’

It is because of the many wrong things that you have done.

That is why people have torn off your clothes.

And they have hurt you.

23 A black man cannot make himself white,

and an animal cannot change its colour.

In the same way, you cannot do good things

if you have always done evil things.

24 ‘I will blow you away,

as the desert wind blows straw.

25 That is what I have decided to do to you,’ says the Lord.

‘I will do it because you have forgotten me.

And you have listened to false gods.

26 I will pull off your clothes.

You will be ashamed.

27 You have had sex with women who are not your wives.

And everyone will see that you have done that.

They will know that men have paid women

to have sex with them.

I have seen the bad things that you do

on the hills and in the fields.

It will be very bad for you, people in Jerusalem!

You should not always do wrong things.’

13:27Here Jeremiah is telling the people in Jerusalem that God will use enemies to punish them. God sees all the wrong things that they are doing. He knows that they do not honour him. He knows that they worship false gods. God says that his people are not faithful to him. They are like a wife who has sex with a man. But the man is not her husband.