Bible Pathways 8/31/2000
Lamentations 3 -- 5
For more than 40 years, Jeremiah the prophet had warned his people to believe Moses and the prophets or face the judgment of God. Eventually the Israelites faced the inevitable destruction of their glorious Temple in Jerusalem, the city of God. The prophet Jeremiah was one of the greatest prophets in biblical history, but few suffered so much humiliation, rejection, and hostility. Godly though he was, he identified himself as part of the Israelite people when he confessed their dilemma: I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. . . . He has built against me, and compassed me with gall (bitterness) and travail (hardship). . . . Also when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer (my prayers never seem to be answered) (Lamentations 3:1,5,8). But, regardless of extremely difficult circumstances, Jeremiah continued to express his faith in the wisdom and love of God in dealing with His sinful people, saying: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness. . . . It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord (3:22-23,26).
God, who is absolutely Holy, 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 opportunity for repentance. We can truly praise the Lord who taught us to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). Though He causes grief, yet will He have compassion according . . . His mercies (Lamentations 3:32).
Through the destruction of the Temple came a more perfect understanding of the awfulness of sin, the consequences of disregarding God's Word, and the results of assuming God's Covenant promise would continue while the Covenant responsibility was ignored. The prophet could plead: Wherefore does a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord (3:39-40), meaning in full repentance, confession of sin, and obedience to His Word.
The once-proud Kingdom of Judah was now being subjected to every form of humiliation -- having to beg for bread from foreigners, to pay for water, to helplessly stand by and watch their children be taken into forced heavy labor, and to know that these heathen soldiers had ravaged the women in Zion. . . . The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! (5:11,16).
Judah had forfeited its sacred purpose. As with all sinners, eventually the horrifying moment of accountability must come, just as the Lord says: Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).
Where there is no repentance, God, our Heavenly Father, in perfect love, wisdom, and holiness, must bring a sinful nation into judgment to face the consequences of continued rebellion.
The righteous always suffer in the midst of a wicked nation; but, for the Christian, suffering opens our eyes to the true values of life: The trial of your faith is much more precious than gold. . . . The God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, (will) make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (I Peter 1:7; 5:10).
Have we been deceived by our prosperity, power, and prestige as did the Northern Kingdom and then Judah?
No other nation on earth has ever compared so well with the Israelites of old as the United States, whose Founding Fathers engraved the Word of God upon their historic documents and monuments. But its present corruption exceeds that of Israel before its destruction. Consequently, we will face the horrifying nightmare that the few remaining Israelite exiles experienced when they said: Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens. We are orphans (Lamentations 5:2-3).
As the merciful Savior (Lamentations 3:22). I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 8:12).
3:5 builded against means besieged; 3:9 inclosed means blocked; 3:14 a derision means a laughingstock; 3:15 wormwood means bitterness; 3:29 putteth his mouth in the dust means speaks humbly; 3:40 try means examine; 4:10 pitiful means compassionate; sodden means boiled.
Government Officials: Rep. Owen Pickett (VA) and Rep. Dave Weldon (FL) · BPM Staff: Bryne Challenger · Pray for Face to Face Ministries and Ken Ballenger · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. John A. Hash · Country: Boznia and Hercegovina (4 million) on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe · Major language: Serbo-Croatian · Little evangelism being done · 40% Muslim; 28% Serbian Orthodox; 14% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray that Christ will be seen through you (Philippians 1:20-21).
Memory Verse for the Week:
II Thessalonians 2:12