August 31

Read Lamentations 3 -- 5

In Today's Reading:

God's mercy; punishment of Zion; the faithful grieve over their disaster and confess their sins

The prophet Jeremiah was one of the greatest prophets in biblical history, and few have suffered so much public humiliation, rejection, and hostility For more than 40 years, he warned the Israelites to believe Moses and follow the Law or to face the judgment of God for their sins. Eventually, because they failed to repent, they faced the inevitable destruction of their glorious Temple and Jerusalem, the city of God.

God does not permit suffering just for the sake of punishment. It always has a twofold purpose: first, as judgment upon sin, but, second, to allow the offenders the opportunity to repent and commit their lives to God. We can truly praise the Lord that He forgives us of all our sins when we repent and confess them to Him (see I John 1:9). Jeremiah the prophet assures us: Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies (Lamentations 3:32).

After the destruction of the Temple, there was a realization of the awfulness of sin and the consequences of disregarding God's Word. The Israelites had assumed that God's Covenant promise would continue while their Covenant responsibility was being ignored. The prophet pleaded: Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD (3:40). Jeremiah called for a national confession of sin, repentance, and obedience to God's Word.

The once-powerful kingdom of Judah was now subjected to every form of humiliation. Its people had to beg for bread from foreigners, pay for drinking water, helplessly stand by and watch their children taken as slaves into heavy, forced labor, and know that these heathen soldiers had ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah (5:11). We can almost feel the heartbreak of the weeping prophet as he expresses his sorrow: The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! (5:16).

The righteous always suffer in the midst of a wicked nation; but, for the Christian, suffering should open our eyes to the true values of life. We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us. . . . they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He (God) for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:9-10).

Christ Revealed:

As the merciful Savior (Lamentations 3:22). Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 1:21).

Word Studies:

3:5 builded against = besieged; 3:9 inclosed = blocked; 3:14 a derision = a laughingstock; 3:15 wormwood = bitterness; 3:29 putteth his mouth in the dust = speaks humbly; 4:10 sodden = boiled.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for the American Center for Law and Justice · the International Shortwave Radio Broadcase sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. John A. Hash · Government Official: Rep. Dave Weldon (FL) · Country: Qatar (724,000) in southwestern Asia · Major languages: Arabic and English · Muslim conversion to Christ is forbidden, but expatriate Christians are allowed to meet informally · 92% Muslim; 4% Protestant; 2% Roman Catholic; 1% Hindu; .5% Eastern Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Trust in God and offer up your prayers night and day (I Timothy 5:5).

Optional Reading: Revelation 5

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 8:28