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This is some tough reading. Jerusalem is spoken of as a woman and in the first portion “she” is like a widow….alone….no one to help her….unable to feed her children….poor….hurting….devastated. An entire nation that had once been strong, powerful, wealthy, no lack of food or shelter…..and now….now “she” is destroyed. She could have TURNED BACK to The Lord but she CHOSE NOT to. In 2:3 we read: ” In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. HE HAS WITHDRAWN HIS RIGHT HAND AT THE APPROACH OF THE ENEMY. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it.” God REMOVED HIS PROTECTION from HIS CHOSEN people because they REFUSED to LISTEN and OBEY. Jeremiah saw most if not all the prophecies come to pass that he had spoken on behalf of The Lord. No one listened….no one wanted to hear…..they only wanted to hear the good things the false prophets had to say. OH MY!! Jeremiah not only saw the destruction, captivity, and exile…he saw what it was like in Babylon and what it was like to return to his homeland fully devastated. I would have been crying with him….not just for what I saw but for the people I loved who were gone. Jeremiah had experienced the prophesies coming through him, and THEN he saw them happen and YET……….he remained so loyal and devoted to The Lord.
Look at what he said in 3:22-24: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his COMPASSIONS (mercies) NEVER FAIL. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” After ALL Jeremiah has seen and been through, there is STILL HOPE….HOPE that God’s mercies are new every morning…..HOPE in his DECISION….his personal CHOICE to WAIT for HIM!!
Today I was driving home from the doctor and started thinking about Jeremiah. Jeremiah spent 40 years prophesying…40 years….he CHOSE to return to Jerusalem to STILL continue prophesying for The Lord, living among the poor, and the people who hated him. I was wondering where he may have slept….maybe a cave…maybe just out in the open air….no pillow…no new clothes to change into….no new shoes….and no guarantee that he would have food to eat due to the devastation. YET….he says what comes out in verses 22-24. WOW!! It certainly put things into perspective in my day!! HOW ABOUT YOU??
I pray for each of you reading today that you are aware of at least two things—first— that HIS people brought all of this on themselves….ALL of it. Second—I pray you are equally aware of God’s faithfulness, HIS compassion, HIS mercies, HIS love. Our OWN disobedience, always has consequences. As believers, we have a most gracious God who desires to forgive us when we acknowledge our sin, ask forgiveness, and repent. However,forgiveness does not cancel out the consequences. When we step outside of God’s perfect plan for us…we grieve HIM. Judah/Jerusalem’s refusal to TURN BACK to HIM grieved HIM. HE was also grieved as they were taken captive. Discipling those HE loves is what any good parent would do but I believe HE does it with tears in HIS eyes and heart.
If this reading was as hard for you as it was for me….remember that HIS mercies are NEW every morning…HE NEVER fails…He is full of love…..The Lord is my portion.. I WILL wait for HIM.
Sharing HIS love,
The Prophet Jeremiah was an eyewitness to Judah’s continued rebellion, refusal to turn back to God and unrepentant idolatry. God sent prophets to WARN Judah (just as he did with Israel) that they would be destroyed if they did not TURN BACK to HIM. In ALL God is, KNOW He is patient, kind, loving and truly wants the best for us. Just as HE gave Judah and Israel MANY opportunities to TURN BACK to HIM AND WARNED them for YEARS of what would happen if they did not TURN BACK to HIM. However a time would come when HE will do what HE says HE will do. We are witnessing in what we read in Jeremiah and we can see how we are being warned today as our own nation and world turns from HIM towards other gods and idols.
Although Judah had a few kings that were good and followed the ways of The Lord, causing the nation to do the same, most of their kings were evil and refused to follow God. As time progressed, the country progressively deteriorated and refused to listen to any of God’s prophets …. especially Jeremiah. Therefore, God used the Babylonians to besiege, plunder, burn, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for approximately 400 years, was burned to the ground. (SO SAD!!)
Although the Book of Lamentations does not explicitly identify Jeremiah as the author he is believed to be the writer. Tradition holds to the belief that the Prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. This view is highly likely considering he was a witness of the Babylonians destroying Jerusalem. Jeremiah fits this qualification (2 Chronicles 35:25; 36:21-22).
The Book of Lamentations is a lament, wailing, or weeping for what occurred to Judah and Jerusalem. The word Lamentations is Ekha in Hebrew and means wailing and weeping. The Book was likely written between 586-575 B.C., during or soon after Jerusalem’s fall.
The book of Lamentations follows the Book of Jeremiah and is the book that gave Jeremiah the name of the “weeping prophet.” The last chapters of Jeremiah can be seen as the introduction to Lamentations. There are 5 poems in this book, each begins at a new chapter. Judah is personified as a woman in this book, but it is important to remember WHY all this is happening to her. An AVOIDABLE tragedy, all caused by sin and lack of repenting. Always read the Bible from God’s character, His Covenant and His Love. God is Holy, God is Just, God is Perfect, and God punishes sin and disobedience in His timing.
The Hebrew Old Testament puts Lamentations with a group of books called the Ketubin or “writings”. The group includes Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Lamentations. They are in their own category (our Bible is grouped by category too, that is why we are jumping around a lot) because these books are read at separate Feasts. To this day, this book is read in Synagogues throughout the world on the ninth day of the fourth month, a day of fasting, to remember the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah’s grief ran deep in his heart for God’s people. Jeremiah wept for the Jews not just because of the suffering and the exile they would endure, but because they had rejected the word of the Lord. This saddened Jeremiah to a level of tears and sympathy.
A key verse in Lamentations and one of my favorites is 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Jeremiah’s deep and abiding passion for his people and their city is the SAME sorrow over the sins of the people and their rejection of God that Jesus expressed as He approached Jerusalem and looked ahead to her destruction at the hands of the Romans (Luke 19:41-44.) Jeremiah saw Jerusalem’s destruction. Because of the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah, God used the Roman siege to punish HIS people the same way that HE used the Babylonians in Jeremiah’s day. It is important to know that God takes NO joy in having to punish HIS children. His heart’s desire is that we ALL come to know Jesus Christ. God is a God of hope which is why HE sent HIS son….so that we ALL may live the abundant life today in this life and spend eternity with HIM in the next. One day because of Christ, God will wipe away ALL tears (Revelations 7:17.) No matter how far we have gone from HIM, we have the HOPE that we can return to HIM and find our compassionate, forgiving, loving God.
So as we begin reading the book of Lamentations tomorrow….look for God’s character. Look for the Scriptures of hope even in all the destruction!
Sharing HIS love,