This is what the LORD said to me: "Buy a linen belt. Put it around your waist. Don't let it get wet."
So I bought the belt, as the LORD had told me, and put it around my waist.
The LORD spoke his word to me again. He said,
"Take the belt that you bought, the one you're wearing. Go to the Euphrates River, and bury it there in a crack in the rocks."
So I went and buried it by the Euphrates, as the LORD had told me.
After many days the LORD said to me, "Go to the Euphrates, and get the belt from where I told you to bury it."
So I went back to the Euphrates and dug it up. I got the belt from where I had buried it. Now the belt was ruined. It was good for nothing.
Then the LORD spoke his word to me. He said,
"This is what the LORD says: This is how I will destroy Judah's arrogance and Jerusalem's extreme arrogance.
These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They go their own stubborn ways and follow other gods in order to serve them and worship them. They are like this good-for-nothing belt.
As a belt clings to a person's waist, so I have made the entire nation of Israel and the entire nation of Judah cling to me," declares the LORD. "I did this so that they would be my people and bring fame, praise, and honor to me. However, they wouldn't listen.
"Give this message to them, 'This is what the LORD God of Israel says: Every bottle will be filled with wine.' Then they will say to you, 'We know that every bottle will be filled with wine.'
Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: I'm going to make everyone who lives in this land drunk. The kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all those who live in Jerusalem will become drunk.
Then I will smash them like bottles against each other. I will smash parents and children together, declares the LORD. I will have no pity, mercy, or compassion when I destroy them.'"
Listen, and pay attention! Don't be arrogant. The LORD has spoken.
Honor the LORD your God before it gets dark, before your feet stumble on the mountains in the twilight. You will look for light, but the LORD will turn it into the shadow of death and change it into deep darkness.
If you won't listen, I will cry secretly over your arrogance. I will cry bitterly, and my eyes will flow with tears because the LORD's flock will be taken captive.
Say to the king and his mother, "Come down from your thrones, because your crowns have fallen off your heads."
The cities in the Negev will be locked up, and there will be no one to reopen them. All the people of Judah will be taken away into captivity.
Look up, and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was given to you--your beautiful sheep?
What will you say when God makes the people you thought were your friends your new masters? Won't pain grip you like a woman in labor?
If you ask yourself, "Why do these things happen to me?" it's because you have so many sins. Your clothes have been torn off and your limbs are bare.
Can Ethiopians change the color of their skin or leopards change their spots? Can you do good when you're taught to do wrong?
"I will scatter you like straw that is blown away by a desert wind.
This is your fate, the destiny I have planned for you," declares the LORD. "You have forgotten me and trusted false gods.
I will also tear off your clothes, and your shame will be seen.
I have seen you commit adultery and squeal with delight. I have seen you act like a shameless prostitute on the hills and in the fields. How horrible it will be for you, Jerusalem! Will you ever be clean?"