Lamentations Highlights

I found this book to be disturbing, but also filled with hope.  Israel had broken their covenant with God by worshipping other gods.  God sent prophet after prophet to warn them about what their sin would bring and to try to urge them to return to Him.  Judah's sin was even worse than the northern kingdom because the kings, priests, and people brought idols to the temple itself.  They defiled the temple that they clung to with a false hope.  They also rejected all the prophets God sent and even conspired to kill Jeremiah.  Therefore, their punishment was much worse.  God sent Babylon to punish Judah more harshly than Assyria punished Israel. 

Jeremiah, an eyewitness, wrote down his laments when looking at the destroyed temple, the city, and the conditions of the people in captivity.   

Today, every year, Jews read these laments on the day that commemorates the destruction of the temple on the 9th day of Av.  They mourn the destruction and hope for its restoration.  History has shown us that Tisha B'Av is indeed a day for mourning. There are five main tragedies that occurred on this day:
    1) God told the Children of Israel that the oldest generation would not enter the Promised Land.
    2) The First Temple built by King Solomon was destroyed by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar

         in 586 BC.
    3) The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
    4) The city of Betar was captured and thousands of Jews were killed in 135 CE.
    5) The Roman emperor made a pagan temple on the site of the Temple and rebuilt Jerusalem as a  

         pagan city in 136 CE.    

It has also been claimed that the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 began on Tisha B'Av as well as World War I.

Jerusalem has no temple today.  The city is inhabited by Muslims, Christians, and Jews.  The Muslims control the temple mount, where the temple once stood.  The walls of the city and the temple mount we see today were built in the 1500s by a Muslim ruler who used some of the stones from Herod's temple. 
Model of King Herod's Temple, currently in the Israel Museum

Jews still mourn this.  Until a new temple is built, Jews will mourn the destruction of the single most important article used in their worship.
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall, or Kotel is located at the foot of the western side of the temple mount.  It has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from the 4th century.  From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none were successful.

God warned His children of what would come if they didn't follow His commands all the way back in Deuteronomy.  He told them they would go into captivity and serve their enemies.  He spelled it out clearly what He expected and Israel could expect. 

In 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33, it is clear that the kings did not do as God commanded.  They built high places and erected altars for Baal.  Manessah made his son walk through fire, practiced witchcraft and divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists.  He set the carved image of Asherah in the temple and seduced them to do more evil than any other nation whom the Lord destroyed.  His son, Amon, became king and also did evil in the sight of the Lord as his father Manasseh had done. 

In 597 BC, Babylon conquered Judah devastating the entire area and the people. 

This is the part that I found really disturbing and couldn't get out of my head..."See, O Lord, and look!  With whom have You dealt thus?  Should women eat their offspring, the little ones who were born healthy?  Should priests and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?" Lamentations 2:20.  Cannibalism of their own children was predicted in Deuteronomy 28:49-57 and Jeremiah 19:3-9.  I just can't imagine getting so desperate that I would turn to these extremes.  I would rather just die instead of doing this for survival because then I couldn't even live with myself and wish I were dead anyway.  I just don't understand how someone can get to this level, I suppose because I have never had a situation such as this.  This horrible scene could have been avoided if they had turned from their sin to God.  Sin had a way of causing great sorrow and devastation to many. 

Jeremiah had been taken prisoner and put into a dark miry pit.  God used this experience as a picture of the nation sinking into sin.  If they turned to God, He would rescue them.  In his darkest moment, his hope was strengthened with the assurance that God had been faithful and would continue to be faithful.  
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.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”
 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him.
 Lamentations 3:22-25

These scriptures mean so much more to me now when they are in context with the entire scene.  With all the sin and sorrow surrounding Jeremiah, he saw a ray of hope.  He had seen God fulfil His promises after bringing the predicted judgement.  He knew He had been faithful to His Word and would remain faithful in His promise to future restoration and blessings.

No one enjoys being disciplined.  We are much fonder of compassion, but God's faithfulness won't let us go on doing what is wrong.  If He causes grief, He will later have compassion.  Here is one of my favorite Sara Groves songs with these scriptures:  He's Always Been Faithful.

It was a bit easy for me when reading this to say to myself, "they brought this on themselves because of their sin."  Then I realized that I too have sinned.  Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 

Jeremiah along with the entire nation pleads God for restoration after expressing the full extent of grief.  Their collective understanding of God determines that He rules.  They also reveal their understanding is incomplete.  They wonder if he forgets them forever.  They didn't understand God's message through the prophets.  Daniel did, however.  We don't have to wonder if He has rejected us--He hasn't:)

We are promised trials for the purpose of producing endurance so we will be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4).  Their captivity lasted for seventy years and was used in order for their repentance and turning back to God.  They knew their sin had caused their destruction.  They got the point, saw their sin, and confessed it.  Do we blame God when bad things happen or do we try to understand what He is teaching us?  Do we trust Him or doubt Him, bless Him or curse Him, worship Him or ignore Him? 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing...I have enjoyed many of your blogs. This is very good. God bless you.