Read Lamentations 3 -- 5
The prophet Jeremiah was one of the great prophets in biblical history, and few suffered so much humiliation, rejection, and hostility. For more than 40 years, he warned the Israelites to believe Moses or face the judgment of God. Eventually they faced the inevitable destruction of their glorious Temple in 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 us the opportunity to repent and commit our lives to Him. We can truly praise the Lord that He forgives us of all our sins. The prophet assures us: Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to . . . 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 result of assuming God's Covenant Promise would continue while the people's Covenant responsibility was being 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). Jeremiah called for full repentance, confession of sin, and obedience to God's Word.
The once-proud Kingdom of Judah was subjected to every form of public humiliation. Its people had to beg for bread from foreigners, to pay for water, to helplessly stand by and watch their children taken as slaves into heavy forced labor, and to know that these heathen soldiers had ravaged the women in Zion (5:11). The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! (5:16).
Judah had forfeited God's sacred purpose. As with all sinners, eventually the horrifying moment of accountability must come, just as the Lord reminded us through the Apostle Paul: 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 sin. Because God is Holy, He cannot allow unholiness to corrupt and destroy His creation. That is why it was necessary for Jesus to come, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21).
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 of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto . . . honor . . . at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7).
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 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; 4:10 sodden means boiled.
Government Official: Rep. Dave Weldon (FL) · BPM Staff: Mary Kay Wagner · Pray for Christian Resources International and Bruce Craft, Director · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. John A. Hash · Country: United Arab Emirates (2 million) on the eastern Arabian Peninsula · Major languages: Arabic and Farsi · Pressure and hostility against Christians are increasing · 95% Muslim; 4% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Realize that the will of God is often different from our own desires (II Corinthians 12:8-9).
Optional Reading: Revelation 5
Memory Verse for the Week: Philippians 3:8