Scripture Reading: Lamentations 1 - 5 ...
Jeremiah had watched Jerusalem and the temple be destroyed. All but the poorest had been taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah himself had been abused by the king of Judah, who insisted that Jeremiah agree with the other prophets who said that all would be well. Jeremiah's "Lamentations" is a pitiful recounting of Judah's sin and of God's judgment. "The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe" (1:5). Jeremiah was sad about the events that had taken place, but he knew Judah's judgment was well-deserved.
Jeremiah knew God. He knew God's holiness and knew that God had repeatedly warned Judah that if they followed the same course as their brothers in Israel, they, too, would face God's just judgment. "Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future" (1:9). How many today live for the present, indulging in the "lusts of the flesh" without considering their future! "The LORD is righteous" (1:18). It was King Nebuchadnezzar and the army of Babylon that destroyed Jerusalem and took Judah into captivity, but it was GOD who sent them. "The LORD is like an enemy; HE has swallowed up Israel. HE has swallowed up her palace ... HE has multiplied mourning and lamentation for the Daughter of Judah ... HE has laid waste His dwelling ... " (2:5-8).
Some would say that God would not do such a thing today. False prophets today declare that God loves everybody and that He will not judge anyone. But as Paul writes to the Romans he declares, "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness" (Romans 1:18). And he goes on to warn those who judge others and declare themselves innocent: "Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? ... BUT because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed" (Romans 2:4-5).
God's judgment fell upon Judah because of their refusal to repent, to turn from their sins. His judgment will ultimately fall upon ALL who follow their example. "In the day of the LORD's anger no one escaped or survived" (2:22). Jeremiah laments, "My soul is downcast within me. ... ... ... YET ..." (3:20-21). Jeremiah and the small remnant that remained in Judah were living in ruins. Children were dying without food and there seemed to be no chance that things would turn around any time soon. In fact, God had told Jeremiah that He was taking Judah into captivity for seventy years! Where could Jeremiah find hope in these dire circumstances?
Listen ... really listen to Jeremiah's testimony, remembering the circumstances that were taking place at this precise time, even as Jeremiah writes these words: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 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" (3:21-23). You might recognize some of those words from the familiar hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." Jeremiah knew God and he knew that God would be faithful to His promise to bring a remnant back to Judah, to send the Messiah, to SAVE His people! In spite of the failure of many in Judah to repent, God would save those who turned to Him, who found their hope in Him, who sought Him, who trusted Him. "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD" (3:25-26).
It seems that the last thing people want to hear or do today is “REPENT!” But it is in humbling yourself before God and trusting in His compassion, mercy, grace and forgiveness in Christ that you will discover HOPE!! "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love" (3:32) ... but only toward those who humble themselves and who seek God and who wait for His salvation. "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD" (3:40). David wrote in Psalm 51:17: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." The character of God never changes. He does what He says He will do.
Jeremiah testifies to his personal experience of God's mercy: "I called on Your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea. ... O LORD, You took up my case; You redeemed my life" (3:55-56, 58). God IS just and will bring judgment upon all those who do not repent, but He will hear the cry of those who humble themselves before Him and who trust in His salvation. We know that the way of life is through faith in the Messiah, the Christ, the eternal Son of God, Jesus! Judgment will come upon the entire world and upon every person who has rejected the knowledge of the one true God and who has refused to repent.
Because of God's great love and compassion, what happened to Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah will NEVER happen to the NEW Jerusalem described by John in Revelation 21. Jeremiah writes, "The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary - those You had forbidden to enter Your assembly" (1:10). But John writes of the new Jerusalem, "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:24-27).
We live today in a world deserving of God's judgment ... a world destined for God's judgment. God has not changed! The only hope ... the ONLY hope for us today is the compassion of our God and His promise to forgive those who repent and believe. He has revealed His love in Christ and those who trust in Him will be saved! Trust in Him today and testify with Jeremiah, "Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto ME!"
"O LORD, my God, I confess my sin before You and rest in Your unfailing love to those who trust in You. I thank You, Father, for the gift of forgiveness and life in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I praise You for Your grace and humble myself before You. Help me to be bold in calling others to repentance and humble in leading them to the only One who is able to save ... my Savior and my Lord, Jesus Christ! In Jesus' name, Amen"