Lamentations – Songs from Rock Bottom
“The joy of our hearts has turned to mourning. The garland has fallen from our heads. Disaster has fallen upon us because we have sinned. Our hearts are sick and weary, our eyes grow dim with tears. For Jerusalem is empty and desolate, a place haunted by jackals.” Lamentations 5:16-18
Lamentations is a collection of five songs of mourning and loss, written by Jeremiah shortly after the siege of Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Babylonians had come in hard, just as Jeremiah and other prophets had been warning the people of Judah for decades, and in their wake they left total devastation. People were either killed, tortured, carried away to Babylon, or left to starve in the desolate rubble. Children were orphaned, fainting and dying in the streets. Others perished in their mothers arms. There was no water, no food, no temple, no wall of protection.
In what seemed like an instant, the once great City of David, the lavish palace and temple of Solomon, the welcoming place to Kings and Nations, the Promised Land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – destroyed, the people scattered, killed, rounded up as slaves.
It had never been this bad and it couldn’t get any worse. Judgment had come. This was rock bottom.
And it could have been avoided. This is what breaks Jeremiah’s heart. This is what breaks the heart of people today that see the world sliding toward the same end. We know better!
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” Galatians 6:7
“For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind…” Hosea 8:7
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
Please see Romans 1:18-32.
The righteous judgement of God, His wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness, extends from His Holiness. He cannot abide sin, it causes His face to be hidden, it causes His absence. As Jeremiah writes, “You have hidden yourself in a cloud, our prayers cannot reach you.” Lamentations 3:44. And while the Lord is infinitely patient with mankind, sustaining the world and literally holding everything together by the victory of Jesus Christ, Lamentations shows what happens when God lifts His hand and people receive the true fruit of unrighteousness and sin.
In a word, horror.
Do you wonder how Jeremiah kept his sanity as he saw it coming, then he saw it happen? He hoped in the Lord. He held desperately to what He knew of God’s character and love. Jeremiah said:
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:20-23
In the world today there are mothers and fathers, monks and pastors, children and teens, policemen and politicians, world leaders and waiters, people who, like Jeremiah, have hearts for God and who know the path of self destruction our country and much of the world is on.
Like Jeremiah, we must weep, not for ourselves, but for the world. And we must stand up with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, declaring, “Enough is enough! Turn to God before we are nothing an afterthought, a punchline. Before God wipes us away like one wipes a dish!”
Jeremiah closes the book with a plea that should be echoing today from every church and every Christian home, every session of congress and every bedside prayer time:
“Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” Lamentations 5:21
Revive us Oh God.