25 June 2016

Stone 24 - Lamentations

This week we take a look at the poetic book of Lamentations. Let's call it a book of pain out of love. The author weeps over a once great nation.

This book falls around the period of the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon as it had been prophesied - so figure someplace around 586 B.C.

The Fall
Jerusalem was at one point a great city but has come to ruin. The sorrow can be immediately felt in the first verse as the imagery of a princess becoming a slave is brought forth (Lam 1:1). The devastation of which is felt on an even grander scale as verse four suggests that even the roads to Zion mourn since no one travels them any longer.

As we have read in previous books thus far, the people of Israel have been in rebellion often and now the pain and consequences have come to bear (Lam 1:8-9). Sin has consequences. Oh, how we often ignore the possibilities! When will we recognize our folly? Unfortunately, it is often times after it is too late.

Can we learn from the mistakes of those who have come before us? Verse 18 declares the Lord as right and pleads with us to look at their pain. Many, many times we have been called to obey his commands.

The Punishment and the Hope
God alone holds the power to exercise eternal judgment for sin and to exercise it on His timing. We hear of it in Lam 2:2-3 and really, all throughout chapter two but just as God can exercise his right to pass judgment and to take life, he can restore a former glory and restore life. That means we have hope in Him. God is righteous and perfect in His judgment but also righteous and perfect in his love for us.

I am reminded of a popular hymn rooted in Lamentations. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" has obviously been around for a while but has received some recent exposure on The Voice - a singing competition TV Show. A recent contestant, Jordan Smith sang the song. If you are not familiar with the song or the show, here it is.

Lamentations 3:23 is the verse referred to that we hear in the chorus. Such a great question is asked by the author in 3:39 - "Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?" Well, it happens because in some cases we do not even think we are sinning. The moral relativism that thrives in our culture says that we determine our own right and wrong. This only creates problems. Earlier this week, I read something that just left me sorrowful. Someone had written that they thought they were more good than God could ever hope to be. What is the standard being used here? How are we judging between good and evil? Who created the criteria by which that distinction is made? Again - Proverbs hits the nail on the head - Prov 14:12 and 21:2 - God know our motives; He knows our hearts. I recently heard a quote that if you stare at your halo long enough, it will become a noose. One day, the reality will come crashing in when we realize that we are not as good as we thought we were. Our pitiful human understanding of good based on a secular worldview cannot withstand the truth.

Lamentations 5:15-17 - part of this says "Woe to us for we have sinned". We have all sinned but thanks to the grace of God we can be forgiven of those sins through the gift of His son Jesus. May we not become like Jerusalem and the nation of Israel, destroyed by the sin and rebellion that permeated the very fabric of their culture and being.

I will end with another quote from Ravi Zacharias who said, "Unless there is a change in the heart of a human being, laws are but a surface solution. It is trying to put a band-aid to a joint that is out of order."

Until next time.

No comments: