A devotional response to Lamentations chapters one and two –
Jeremiah did not have an easy job. As God’s prophet, he was called to communicate to Israel their deviation from God’s plan for the nation. He was to warn of coming judgment and its causes, and he was, therefore, known as the weeping prophet. But judgment was not Jeremiah’s only message. Throughout his prophecy, the intentional and eternal love of God rings out. Lamentations is a book of mourning resulting from God’s people’s unwillingness to turn, but even in their disobedience, God longed for them and reached for them, just as He longs for and reaches for us today. While chapters one and two focus on the reality of the judgment and its causes, a central theme in the book of Lamentations is the eternal faithfulness of God.
Lamentations focuses on a nation which had turned its back on God. Like the ancient nation of Israel, when we remove ourselves from God’s influence and reject God’s way, we subject ourselves to the natural consequences of this rejection. We, as humans, see ourselves as independent functioning creatures, but we have a Creator. We cannot operate in our fullest capacity outside that for which He has created us, and when we try to, we find ourselves caught in the consequences of a vessel used for wrong purposes. God’s perfect love and holiness can not tolerate sin, which eats like a cancer, consumes, destroys and overthrows. This is the work of the destroyer and the opposite of God’s plan for us (John 10:10). God will forgive sin, redeem us from sin, rescue us when we turn to Him in repentance, but He does not tolerate sin.
In Lamentations chapters one and two, Jeremiah vividly mourns the consequences of Israel’s continued rejection of God. God had removed His hand of protection, allowing destruction to overtake them, and cut off Israel’s power. He had removed His presence from Israel so that even the prophets had no vision; there was no comfort. This should have been no surprise to them as God had used Jeremiah to continually warn them of the results of hearts turned from God.
There was only one way back – repentance. Jeremiah urged the people to cry to the Lord: “Let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease. 19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: (Lamentations 2:18b, 19a). This was serious; it demonstrated brokenness and the realization that there was no other way to be saved.
Our World Today
Our world is in chaos. We are seeing the consequences of people and nations turning their backs on God’s way and his priorities. We have watered down His word to fit our own desires, and we are at best lukewarm in our devotion to Him. Just as the Israelites, we have allowed lies rather than the truth to rule our lives and beliefs. Here are a few examples:
- We thought truth could be relative and bent to our own preferences, but we have ended up as broken, suffering people, unable to discern right from wrong or truth from falsehood.
- We thought that if we just said there was no sin we could miss the natural consequences of going against that which is right and good. The results of this thinking are seen in our own dysfunction and in the lives of our children, who seem intent on destruction.
- We thought that our spiritual state was unconnected to our mental and physical wellbeing, but we are seeing the cataclysmic results of this ignorance in the hopeless state of our populace.
- We thought we didn’t need to protect the minds and hearts of our children, that they could be immersed in deviance and gore and mature normally. We were wrong.
- We thought we could shed the innocent blood of babies, skewing the natural affection of parents and walk away with clean hands, but this tragedy has tainted the very fabric of our society.
- We thought that God was the problem and that by removing His influence we could live enlightened lives, but we, just like Adam and Eve, have found ourselves naked and exposed.
- We thought education was the answer and that we could learn to be good enough to overcome the taint of sin on our lives, but we have made knowledge our god and come away as spiritual paupers.
The Good News
Are we willing to humble ourselves and do the work of repentance or will we shake our fists in the face of Heaven, harden our hearts, and wonder why God doesn’t intervene? The reality is that God has intervened; He has sent His Son to be the payment for our sin (I John 4:10). Repentance calls for a turning and a changing of the mind. It calls us to align our thoughts and hearts with God’s Word. God’s message is a message of love and hope, but the consequences of rejection are natural and real. He has given us the choice.
He is still reaching, but we must turn to Him.
Lamentations 1:20 – Behold, O Lord; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death.