An Object Lesson from Ruined Linen Shorts
1 The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts and put them on. Do not put them in water.” 2 So I bought the shorts as the Lord had told me to do and put them on. 3 Then the Lord spoke to me again and said, 4 “Take the shorts that you bought and are wearing and go at once to Perath. Bury the shorts there in a crack in the rocks.” 5 So I went and buried them at Perath as the Lord had ordered me to do. 6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to Perath and get the shorts I ordered you to bury there.” 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the shorts from the place where I had buried them. I found that they were ruined; they were good for nothing.
8 Then the Lord said to me, 9 “I, the Lord, say: ‘This shows how I will ruin the highly exalted position in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride. 10 These wicked people refuse to obey what I have said. They follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts and pay allegiance to other gods by worshipping and serving them. So they will become just like these linen shorts which are good for nothing. 11 For,’ I say, ‘just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah tightly to me.’ I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honour, and praise. But they would not obey me.
12 “So tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, says, “Every wine jar is made to be filled with wine.”’ And they will probably say to you, ‘Do you not think we know that every wine jar is supposed to be filled with wine?’ 13 Then tell them, ‘The Lord says, “I will soon fill all the people who live in this land with stupor. I will also fill the kings from David’s dynasty, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens of Jerusalem with stupor. 14 And I will smash them like wine bottles against one another, children and parents alike. I will not show any pity, mercy, or compassion. Nothing will keep me from destroying them,’ says the Lord.”
15 Then I said to the people of Judah,
“Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant!
For the Lord has spoken.
16 Show the Lord your God the respect that is due him.
Do it before he brings the darkness of disaster.
Do it before you stumble into distress
like a traveller on the mountains at twilight.
Do it before he turns the light of deliverance you hope for
into the darkness and gloom of exile.
17 But if you will not pay attention to this warning,
I will weep alone because of your arrogant pride.
I will weep bitterly and my eyes will overflow with tears
because you, the Lord’s flock, will be carried into exile.”
18 The Lord told me,
“Tell the king and the queen mother,
‘Surrender your thrones,
for your glorious crowns
will be removed from your heads.
19 The gates of the towns in southern Judah will be shut tight.
No one will be able to go in or out of them.
All Judah will be carried off into exile.
They will be completely carried off into exile.’”
20 Then I said,
“Look up, Jerusalem, and see
the enemy that is coming from the north.
Where now is the flock of people that were entrusted to your care?
Where now are the ‘sheep’ that you take such pride in?
21 What will you say when the Lord appoints as rulers over you those allies
that you, yourself, had actually prepared as such?
Then anguish and agony will grip you
like that of a woman giving birth to a baby.
22 You will probably ask yourself,
‘Why have these things happened to me?
Why have I been treated like a disgraced adulteress
whose skirt has been torn off and her limbs exposed?’
It is because you have sinned so much.
23 But there is little hope for you ever doing good,
you who are so accustomed to doing evil.
Can an Ethiopian change the colour of his skin?
Can a leopard remove its spots?
24 “The Lord says,
‘That is why I will scatter your people like chaff
that is blown away by a desert wind.
25 This is your fate,
the destiny to which I have appointed you,
because you have forgotten me
and have trusted in false gods.
26 So I will pull your skirt up over your face
and expose you to shame like a disgraced adulteress!
27 People of Jerusalem, I have seen your adulterous worship,
your shameless prostitution to, and your lustful pursuit of, other gods.
I have seen your disgusting acts of worship
on the hills throughout the countryside.
You are doomed to destruction!
How long will you continue to be unclean?’”