Psalm 12 gives us a glimpse of what Judah was probably like in Jeremiah’s time. “The faithful have vanished,” “Everyone utters lies to his neighbor,” “the poor are plundered, the needy groan.”

Take a minute to reflect on just how strong the images in this passage are. Filthy underwear, left to rot and decay after being worn. A drunken brawl that tears Jerusalem apart, sparing not a family. The Israelites’ sleaze, filth, and evil utterly exposed to the world in humiliation.

Sometimes, I read passages like this and wonder why the Israelites didn’t just go back to God and avoid all this. Yet every time I am answered by the scope of how evil and awful God’s chosen people were. If even God’s chosen people, who God called over and over again to worship and follow him, did not obey him, who among us possibly could?

Jeremiah 13 ends with a rhetorical question: “When will you clean up your act, Judah?” We, the readers, know the answer: “They won’t.”

We are in the same situation. Apart from God, our sins, our evil, our depravity is like the ugly, rotted loincloth. Yet in the loincloth image God describes what his people should be – clinging on God to glorify God and to be God’s beloved. Today, let these images remind you of the filth of sin, and give praise for Christ’s work, in which the free gift of God is to have our evil cleansed.