A Look Into Lamentations
April 1, 2005

C. R. Oliver

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April 1, 2005

A Look Into Lamentations

God was not playing an April Fool's joke with Judah when Jeremiah penned Lamentations. He was in the process of delivering His people into the hands of Babylon for a seventy year lesson on humility and meekness. This month's lesson is timely, for it was Jerusalem's eleventh hour as it is ours.

Few prophets have lived to see what Jeremiah saw--their prophecies fulfilled before their eyes. What must it have been like to speak the vision and then live the vision? What was it like to speak and then see the cruel realities of judgment take place before one's own eyes? What must it have been like to walk among people who were relatives and close friends, brethren bound together by the fellowship of the Temple, and watch as they disappeared to death or slavery? What must it have been like to observe Temple-folk reduced to a state where they functioned lower than animals in pursuit of food? What must it have been like to know that every day's dawn was a step into a bleaker reality than the day before? What must it have been like to know the refusal of his neighbors to hear or see or address his words was the cause of it all?

Lamentation's Legacy:

Lamentations is the aged face of a man who offered his reasonable service like Jesus. Jeremiah wept over Jerusalem hundreds of years before the Savior wept there. The disaster which lay around him gave him no comfort or opportunity to gloat. His own future was Egypt, and Judah's was Babylon. He understood the seal of God in judgment and chronicled the human plight garnered through disobeying the will of the Lord.

Jerusalem has sinned grievously, therefore she has become vile.(1:8)
She did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome. (1:9)
Vile, Thy Name is Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the capitol of God's people had actually become the personification of vileness. Her collapse was part of her sealed destiny. Vileness precludes punishment's seal. There came a time when vileness was not just present in Jerusalem, it summed up the character of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah was integral to this people, "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow (1:12)?" He did not watch in detached aloofness. The oppressors of his brethren were his oppressors, and he longed for the time they too would be severely judged, "Bring on the day that You have announced, that they may become like me. Let all their wickedness come before You, and do to them as You have done to me (1:22)." At this juncture, Jeremiah entered into the seal of heaven to bind on earth the destiny of Babylon. His phrase, "Let all their wickedness come before You," was identical to, "Whatsoever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven (Matthew 16:18)." The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man does avail much (James 5:16).

"The Lord has purposed[1] to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; He has stretched out a line (2:8)." The seal of God was set; His appropriations would not deterred by weeping or some late day repentance. The sacred wall was besieged from January, 588B.C. to July 19, 586 (over two years); the city and Temple were burned August 15, of that same year.

Jeremiah brought a new reality to already desperate circumstances; he brought the "will of the God of Abraham." He who been the defender was now the perpetrator.

As a result of this onslaught, society became unglued. Officialdom fell (kings, princes), and religious leaders had no prophetic revelation from the Lord ("have no vision from the Lord [2:9].") They ran about decreeing this or that, prophesying all kinds of events--without a shred of knowledge or one word of wisdom.

"The Lord has done what HE purposed, He has fulfilled His word which He commanded in days of old (2:17)." (The true prophet knew Elohim had spoken into being that which was happening.)
Because I have spoken. I have purposed and will not relent, Nor will I turn back from it. The whole city shall flee from the noise of the horsemen and bowmen. They shall go into thickets and climb up on the rocks. Every city shall be forsaken, And not a man shall dwell in it. Lamentations 4:28-29
Jeremiah's words agreed with God's and called for the moment. His counsel was simple: lift your hands toward God and seek mercy for your children. Lamentations 2:19

Jerusalem's children were carried away, but would eventually take part in the return. It was these (now aged) children who accompanied Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. The screaming children returned as the weeping elders. They had viewed the glory of seventy years before; they wept as aged dissenters confronting those who reveled in rebuilding.

Jeremiah (whose name meant, YHWH establishes, appoints, sends) realized that not only was he sealed in his ministry, he was sealed into his prophecy.
He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out. Lamentations 3:7
No man of God is separate from his message; the great disparity of modern pulpits belies this truth!

Despite ghastly circumstances, Jeremiah's testimony pursed through poets lips and became the wondrous mantle of the song, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness, The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-24
The reality of occupation and slavery had diminished the reality of God's promise in the minds of the people, even His promises to Jeremiah's enemies.

Enemies of the Faith:

Jeremiah knew history was sealed by God not man.
Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? Lamentations 3:37
Jeremiah's enemies were not all outside the camp. Many of those feigning religion reviled him and vented their anger against him. When he cried from the "pit," where they incarcerated him, God answered, "Do not fear! (3:57)."

His prayer for his enemies was not intercessory. His prayer was for them to be given a "veiled heart," and that "the curse of God be upon them (3:65)." He wanted God to seal them using these vindictives.

The Precious Sons vs. Villainous Prophets and Priests

"The precious sons of Zion" were falling on every hand to the degree that Jeremiah observed, "The punishment…is greater than the punishment for the sin of Sodom (4:6)." "The Lord has fulfilled his fury, He has poured out His fierce anger, He kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured its foundations. The kings of the earth, and all inhabitants of the world, would not have believed…because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests (4:11, 13)."

Squarely on the shoulders of the prophets and priests lay the burden of responsibility. None of this would have happened had they been obedient to God and steadfast before the people. (What villainy will modern clergy and their henchmen bear?)

God's sealed fury did have limits. He poured out no more nor less than His determined plan; it was meted in proportion to the iniquity it encountered. Great iniquity encounters great judgment was the premise. (What is the destiny of any modern nation based on such a formula?)

Jeremiah's concluding statement was ample: "Our days were over, for our end had come (4:18)." With this dictum came his final prophecy, "The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity (4:7)."

Outside the seal of judgment lies the seal of deliverance. All history is spiritual history.

Lamentations comprised the seventh prophetic word sent to Judah. It was separate in nature from those found in the book of Jeremiah and formed a "reality check" for those experiencing sealed judgment. It contained the perfected end of perfect punishment and afforded a spectrum beyond what the eye could perceive. It gave meaning to the chastisement of the hour. It was God speaking during his children's whipping, "This is why I do this, and have purposed it so you can truly be My children."


[1] OT:2803 Purposed: chashab (khaw-shab'); a primitive root; properly, to plait or interpenetrate, i.e. (literally) to weave or (gen.) to fabricate; figuratively, to plot or contrive (usually in a malicious sense); hence (from the mental effort) to think, regard, value, compute: KJV - (make) account (of), conceive, consider, count, cunning (man, work, workman), devise, esteem, find out, forecast, hold, imagine, impute, invent, be like, mean, purpose, reckon (-ing be made), regard, think.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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