In last week’s article “Surrender to Live,” we noted that the people of Judah were taken captive by the Babylonians and the horrific scene recorded in Jeremiah 52 of King Zedekiah’s sons being killed in front of his very eyes before the King of Babylon would put out the eyes of King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 52:9-11). Throughout the book of Jeremiah, we have found that although the word of God was being proclaimed through the prophet Jeremiah, the people would not heed and they would suffer the horrific consequences of which they had been warned about.
The next book following Jeremiah is that of Lamentations, being composed of 5 chapters in which we find 5 laments that are all related to the despair of the Israelites in the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple. This book of crying, of wailings even, portray the desperate, dire circumstances that the Israelites were facing. The capital of Judah destroyed, the temple destroyed, freedom of the nation was lost, and people were slaughtered, some being taken into captivity as slaves. The people had forsook the Lord, so the Lord would deliver this rebellious people over to the heathen nation of Babylon. The impact that this would have on the people would be tremendous (cf. Lamentations 2:20-22).
In Lamentations 4, there was some reflecting being done about the calamity that had befallen them due to their rebellious ways. We sometimes get caught up looking at them and asking, “how did you not see that coming?” Even as we fast-forward to our time today, having seen the digression of a nation, the digression of the Lord’s church. We tend to reflect, looking back at the “old days” and yearn for them. I have thought about just in my life how simple everything seemed. Stores were not open on Sunday. It was a day to praise God. We would spend our entire day with Christians. Now you see the Lord’s Day filled with all sorts of activities, and no time for the Lord and His people. Things have become so complex, so problematic. We see pews that was once filled with people, now empty. We see a people who was once on fire for the Lord and His cause, cooled down and lackadaisical.
As we reflect as His people, as we see in Lamentations, I must ask, “How did we not see this coming?” Families falling apart, a nation supposedly “under God” crumbling. Yet like those of Jeremiah’s day, “Christians” continue day in and day out, only until it comes to desolation, calamity, and destruction will we begin to think of the Lord and reflect on how far we have drifted. It is then that we desire for the Lord to “renew our days.”
In Lamentations 5:1, we find the prayer for restoration beginning. This is a passionate cry to the Lord. We need to say the same thing today. Some may say, “But we’re not in captivity like they were, slaves to the Babylonians and in exile.” I disagree. You look around and see how many have been “taken captive,” and captivated by the world and the reproach that we bring upon His name. Those who have left being servants to the Lord, to be slaves to sin again (cf. Romans 6:16-18). They are entangled again in the ways of the world. And we can be as guilty as those priests and prophets who were to stand up along with Jeremiah to uphold the word of God, yet they did not. We can brush it off as those of Jeremiah’s day, but don’t forget what happened to these people. It is hard for us to fathom, because how could a loving gracious merciful God do this to His children? Yes, God is a loving, gracious and merciful God, but He is also a JEALOUS GOD and as the Hebrew writer records, “The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30,31; cf. 10:26,27). The Psalmist recognized the gravity in his plea to the Lord. Ps 80:3, 7, 19 – “Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” Ps 85:4– “Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.”
The Lord blesses us tremendously, not only with physical things, but spiritually, especially the gift of salvation. And we snub Him. The Lord blesses us with children and gives the command to us to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and we don’t do it. Rather we allow them to do what they want to do, because we have things we want to do. He blesses us, and we fail to use those blessings to bless others, failing to tell of our salvation, failing to show the kindness that has been shown toward us by our loving God. And we EXPECT things from God still. We expect His continued presence. What will it take for us to see how important the Lord really is? The joy of their heart had turned to mourning. The crown had fallen from their head as noted in the latter part of verse 16 of Lamentations 5, “woe to us, for we have sinned.”
May it be our heartfelt plea today, to see what we really are before the Lord. To try to understand how the Lord would feel toward those who He has blessed, having demonstrated His own love toward us to give His only begotten Son to die for us, even while we were yet sinners (cf. Jn 3:16; Romans 5:6-8) and then we go on doing what we so desire to do.
Notice what Jeremiah would go on to say in Lamentations 5:19-22. Renew our days as of old. What a wonderful nation they use to be, at a time when they served the Lord, when they worshiped Him as He commanded, as they taught their children and grandchildren the ways of righteousness. Back in Jeremiah 6, the Lord said for them to “stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls” (cf. Jeremiah 6:15-17). As noted in that same passage, “they would not.”
We can look at this study and shrug our shoulders and say “who cares?” That’s not us. But it actually is. As a Christian who is described by Peter in 1 Peter 2:9,10, we are the priests today that are to be standing up for the truth of God’s word, proclaiming praises to the Lord by what we say and what we do. When we lackadaisically carry on in our day to day lives, not giving the Lord the reverence He so deserves and service He so deserves and demands, then we are no better than Passhur, nor the people of Judah. My friends, may it be our prayer and plea to be restored to the Lord. Remember that change first starts with ourselves. May it be our prayer and plea for others to turn back to the Lord, to be restored.
Oh, for the old days, the old ways, may they be renewed. Jeremiah longed for them. I long for them. This must be our constant longing and prayer, our determination, our resolve, for our days to be renewed, to be revived again.
The call is still today, as noted in Lamentations 3:22-24, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is merciful, and He is willing and ready to forgive us of our iniquities, but we need to turn to Him, we need to seek the old paths where righteousness dwells. May we pay close attention to those warnings that we are given and strive to live in accordance with the Lord’s will.
My friends, may we find comfort today, even as those who are righteously striving to live for God, surrounded by disparaging circumstances of our time, remember the words, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses 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.’”
Be encouraged today! Our story is NOT over! We just have to make up our mind to focus on the Lord God, whose mercies never cease, whose compassions never fail, they are new every morning and great is His faithfulness!
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊