“For the Lord has caused her grief
Because of the multitude of her transgressions;
Her little ones have gone away
As captives before the adversary.” Lamentations 1:5(b,c).
Funeral of a nation and city.
The book of Lamentations records the final funeral service of a nation and city- Judah and the city of Jerusalem. There is much to learn from history. This is true history, as the Bible always gives the true historical accounts of what happened in the past. Not only it says what happened historically in the past but also faithfully describes why things happen the way it happens now and what would happen in the future. There is no book like the Bible to understand the whole plan and purpose of God. Not much on the historicity, current relevance and futurity of the Bible now in this article. But let us move on…
If you want to know the historical background of the bleak, sorrowful and painful matters accounted in the book of Lamentations, you would read the previous book called the book of Jeremiah. The ministry of the prophet Jeremiah stretched from 627 BC to 580 BC. The nation and its people were disobedient to the Words of God. God is seen as patient during prolonged actions of disobedience and rebelliousness against Him and His eternal and everlasting Words. He called and appealed people through his prophets to repent about their sinful behavior and action before it is too late.
Lesson from potter’s house.
God showed a sign of the potter’s house to prophet Jeremiah and it is recorded in chapter 18 of the book of Jeremiah. This is the lesson of the potter’s house. A vessel that was ‘gone bad’, ruined or spoiled can very well be repaired within a period, if it is in the hand of the potter. However, when the time passed and clay gets dried, it can only be good to throw away to the trash. God’s warning is clear- the time of repentance could end soon. There is an allotted time for turning to God and change the ways. However, after hearing repeated warnings and loving call of God through His prophets, they defied and continued in their sinful lifestyle which resulted in the Babylonian captivity and destruction of the nation and once elegant and proud city of Jerusalem.
God in his anger poured out his wrath and as a result, Lamentations 1:1 says, “How lonely now the city, once the city was full of people’. She has become like a widow who weeps bitterly in the night. There is none to comfort her. Judah had gone into exile under severe affliction. Our weekly insight says, “For the LORD has caused her grief because of the multitude of her transgressions; her little one have gone away as captives before the adversary.”
Verse 12 says, “Is it nothing to all of you who pass the way?” Look and see if there is any pain like it when God deals severely with the sinfulness of people? Lamentations 4:22 (d), “the LORD God will exposure your sins.” You see we can hide it or ignore it. The best and safest way is to agree with the Lord and turn to him and call him in true repentance. When we confess our sins God hides it. The prolonged and unconfessed sins, God will expose to all.
You see, after the prolonged patience of God, he could act swiftly in anger. This is what history teaches us. This is what the Bible teaches us in the book of prophets and Lamentations. Now is the time to call on the name of Jesus Christ and now is the time of salvation. God moves through his world. He created the whole universe and earth. You and I can not and would not live in his world he created and sustains by continuously defying God, His existence and laws for a long time. God intervened in 722 BC and punished the northern kingdom called Israel by sending them to foreign Assyrian captivity. History says they never came back to the land after the exile. Later in 586 BC, God judged the sins of the southern kingdom called Judah and the city was in ruin and destruction. God sent them to the Babylonian captivity.
The book of Lamentation is historically and accurately recorded what we should all know. People are in famine. They cry out night and day. The city is in desolation and no way of escape from the judgment of God.
Jeremiah describes his own despair condition in chapter 3. He says I am the man who has seen the affliction because of the rod of God’s wrath. He ministered faithfully. However, he experiences his own portion of troubles. He says the Lord has driven him and made him walk in darkness and not in light. He says the Lord has turned his hand against him, repeatedly all day. He says he has forgotten happiness and said: “My strength has perished, and so my hope from the Lord.” You see all are impacted heavily by the anger of the Lord because of people’s reckless life without God and His counsels in their lives.
But remember the truth about God -his loving-kindness and compassion
Beloved, may this be a solemn warning to all of us. Jeremiah said 3:19 onwards, “surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. But I recall to my mind, and therefore I have hope. He is recalling the truth about God in the sad situations caused by God’s anger against people’s disobedient life. Read slowly the following verses (22-33). Even amid his severe judgments:
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he should bear
The yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone and be silent
Since He has laid it on him.
Let him put his mouth in the dust,
Perhaps there is hope.
Let him give his cheek to the smiter,
Let him be filled with reproach.
For the Lord will not reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness.
For He does not afflict willingly
Or grieve the sons of men.”
You see, our Lord has loving-kindness amid his anger and judgments. His compassion never fails. His grace and compassion are new every morning (praise God). Provided we call upon Him, he will not reject forever. You see the wonderful statement in verse 32, “For if he caused grief, then he will have compassion, according to His abundant lovingkindness. You see, God does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. He does not willingly cause us into grief and sorrow. However, He has to punish our sins because He is holy and just, we are his creation and we live on this earth that is created by him.
Did God remember Judah in his mercy?
Did the LORD God remember Judah, the southern kingdom in his grace, loving-kindness, and compassion? Yes, He did. Based on their repentance and turning back to Him, He later relented from his anger and restored Judah back to their land from exile. Daniel interceded for them remembering God’s word of 70 years of exile (Jeremiah 25:11-13). Daniels’s timely intercessory prayer is recorded in Daniel 9. God heard the prayer of intercession for the nation and this is why we still have a nation called Israel in the map of the world. The northern kingdom called Israel (Israel was divided into the northern kingdom and southern kingdom after the death of Solomon) never recovered from their exile. No repentance and no return back to the land. However, Judah was restored based on Daniel’s intercessory prayer claiming the promises of God.
What should we do?
Christians, who are bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, must intercede for the world, nations, communities, and individuals who are suffering. We can accomplish by individual and group prayers. Group prayers can be conducted over the phone or live stream. Nations and its leaders, communities and its members must repent and turn to the Lord.
We are living in an unpreceded time like the one I described above. The only way of escape is admitting our sins and truly turning back to the Lord. The nations and its leaders, people and their communities have gone far away from the precepts of the Lord. These days before things get worse, we need to confess our sins and call upon the Lord.
God’s wrath for our sins and shortcomings are placed on His Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our sins. He is the tower of refuge for deliverance and eternal salvation. Those who have Jesus were transferred from God’s eternal judgment to eternal life with him in heaven. If you are in Jesus, you are safe and secure, no matter what happens in this world or to you. Those who are in Christ Jesus, means, those who accepted Christ as their savior and Lord, are bought by God by the blood of Christ and are granted eternal security and safety. The moment you close your eyes in death, you will open your eyes with the triune God in heaven. No man takes away your joy and hope from you.
Dear friend, do you have that hope? Have you come to Jesus and accepted Him as your savior? If not, that step is the first step for God’s forgiveness, grace, compassion, and loving-kindness. Psalm 2:11-12 says, “Serve the Lord with reverent fear; rejoice with trembling. Fall before his Son and kiss his feet before his anger is roused and you perish. I am warning you—his wrath will soon begin. But oh, the joys of those who put their trust in him!” Stop and read it again. God asks you to kiss the feet of His Son, Jesus Christ before His anger is roused and you perish. If you do it, the joy of those who put their trust in Him would be unexplainable with tongues. Let you become part of those people who come to Jesus and invite him to our lives in prayer to experience the joy of the Lord.
“Father in heaven, per your good counsel, I kiss the feet of Your Son, and my savior, Lord Jesus Christ. I know Jesus is God’s only way for my help and deliverance. In Jesus, I have all I need even in times of turmoil. I know you made my future safe and secure in your Son. I ask your forgiveness because I turn to you in confessing my sins. Please forgive and save me today. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.”