Scripture reading – Lamentations 4; Lamentations 5

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Today’s Scripture reading will conclude our study of “The Lamentations of Jeremiah.” On a personal note, when I conclude an in-depth evaluation of a personality like Jeremiah, I feel I am parting with a friend. The Scriptures, inspired by the LORD, have a unique and powerful way of communicating not only the heart of God but also the personality and struggles of His servants.

Thank you for participating in this study of Jeremiah. We have followed this great prophet from his calling and ordination (Jeremiah 1) through the years when he boldly declared the imminent judgment of the LORD, and finally, the destruction of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 2-52). Of course, the Book of Lamentations recorded Jeremiah’s sorrows and struggles as he witnessed the fulfillment of the sufferings and afflictions he foretold would come to pass if the nation did not repent.

I welcome your thoughts and reflections on our study of Jeremiah and his Lamentations. You can email this author at PastorTravisSmith@HeartofAShepherd.com.

Lamentations 4 – The Consequences of Judah’s Sins and God’s Judgment

Extended before Jeremiah were the ruins of Jerusalem, with its streets strewn with rubble and the bodies of the dead in the midst. He spent his life calling on the people to repent and turn to the Lord, but they refused and continued in sin and idolatry. As Jeremiah surveyed the scene before him, he saw the reminders of God’s wrath everywhere.

Jerusalem’s Faded Glory (Lamentations 4:1-5)

Jeremiah recorded in graphic detail the afflictions suffered by his people because of their sins. As you read this passage, understand that we are studying a description of a rebellious, dying culture. It was the people’s sin and wickedness that brought Jerusalem to this sad state. Once a city that shone brightly as gold, she was tarnished by sin, and her sons, once the pride of the nation, were no better than “earthen [clay] pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” (Lamentations 4:1-2)

Adding to the moral decline of the city was the wantonness of the women. The virtue of womanhood and the nurturing nature of mothers is always the last vestige of civility in a culture. Yet, the women of Jerusalem became worse than brute beasts. Whereas it is the nature of beasts to “give suck to their young,” the daughters of Jerusalem were cruel (Lamentations 4:3). Caring only for themselves, mothers neglected their sons and daughters, and like an ostrich that abandons their eggs, they left their children athirst and starving (Lamentations 4:4).

The wealthy and powerful, once consumers of delicacies, roamed the city streets, homeless and destitute (Lamentations 4:5).

Jerusalem’s Faded Glory

Jerusalem’s Sins Demanded a Judgment that Exceeded Sodom (Lamentations 4:6-11)

As a warning to people and nations that knew the LORD and His blessings, Jerusalem’s judgment surpassed Sodom’s (Genesis 19). What sin was committed in Zion, the city of David, that demanded a greater judgment than ancient Sodom, known for its moral depravity?

Because the LORD chose Jerusalem to be the home of His Temple, that privilege incited His wrath. The people broke their covenant with the LORD and defiled His Temple. For that wickedness, the wrath of God lingered. While Sodom was mercifully destroyed “in a moment” (Lamentations 4:6), the suffering in Jerusalem appeared to have no end.

The “Nazarites” (believed to be the nobility of Jerusalem) had enjoyed a favored life of ease (Lamentations 4:7). Unlike the general population who labored under the sun; these were the privileged few whose skin was described as “whiter than milk.” Now, they were reduced to starvation, and their skin was blackened by the sun (4:8). Jeremiah observed that those who died by the sword were “better than” those ravaged by hunger (4:9).

The horror of want and depravity was surmised in this: “The hands of the pitiful women have sodden [i.e., boiled] their own children. They were their meat [i.e., food] in the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lamentations 4:10). Mothers who once nurtured their children, were cannibalizing them, a testament to the wrath of the LORD (Lamentations 4:11).

 

The Leaders Failed the People (Lamentations 4:12-22)

The prophets had warned that the LORD’s judgment was imminent, but the kings of other nations and the people of Judah believed the great walled city was unassailable (Lamentations 4:12).

Who was to blame for the fall of Jerusalem? The answer may surprise you. Though the kings of Judah had committed great wickedness, it was “the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, That [had] shed the blood of the just in the midst of her” (Lamentations 4:12). Lying prophets and sinful priests had failed the nation (Lamentations 4:13). Judah’s spiritual leaders despised the righteous and persecuted them (Lamentations 4:14). Their guilt was so great, they were described as a spiritually leprous people (Lamentations 4:15). They despised the faithful priests. They rejected the elders (among them were the prophets Zechariah and Jeremiah, Lamentations 4:16).

Rather than heed the warnings of judgment, the nation looked to men and allies to save them (Lamentations 4:17). When King Zedekiah and his family fled the city, the soldiers of Babylon hunted them down (Lamentations 4:18; 2 Chronicles 36:5-6; 2 Kings 25:1-7), and pursued them like eagles through the mountains and into the wilderness (Lamentations 4:19-20). Yet, the LORD did not forget those who persecuted His people, and the Edomites were warned they too would drink from the cup of God’s judgment (Lamentations 4:21). The sins of Edom would not be forgotten (Lamentations 4:22).

 

Closing thoughts –

Have you considered how Judah’s sins and the sinful character of the people tragically resemble our day? The United States, once the envy of the world, has become like tarnished gold (Lamentations 4:1). The American dollar, once the world’s standard currency, has fallen into disrepute. “WOKE” politicians that champion “DEI” (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) have transformed our prestigious military into a showcase of social depravity (Lamentations 4:2) rather than strength and honor. Brazen women scorn motherhood and demand the liberty to terminate the unborn.

Our leaders have betrayed our society, and our churches have become hollow shells of sin and depravity. The righteous are despised, and the faithful that call for repentance are scorned.

A Prayer of Intercession

Lamentations 5

 

A Prayer of Intercession (Lamentations 5:1-13)

In our closing chapter and Bible study in Lamentations, Jeremiah prayed, “Remember, O Lord, what comes upon us: Consider and behold our reproach” (Lamentations 5:1). In his prayer, the prophet reminded the LORD all that the people suffered. The survivors of Babylon’s siege were taken to Babylon, and their homes and lands fell to other people (Lamentations 5:2). The nation was reduced to a poor population of orphans and widows (Lamentations 5:3).

The Jews were no longer free and were forced to labor to purchase water and food (Lamentations 5:4-5). They were slaves of their enemies (Lamentations 5:6). Jeremiah confessed the sins of their forefathers and how the nation had borne the consequences of their sins (Lamentations 5:7; Exodus 20:5). They were mistreated, abused, sick and diseased, and their wives and daughters were violently raped (Lamentations 5:8-11). Their leaders were tortured, and their young men and boys were forced to labor (Lamentations 5:12-13).

 

A Prayer for Forgiveness and Restoration (Lamentations 5:14-21)

Our study of Lamentations concludes with a tragic picture of a nation that reaped the consequences of its sins. The elders were not esteemed, and the young men found no joy in their music (Lamentations 5:14). Joy ceased, and dance turned to sorrow (Lamentations 5:15-16). The crown of glory once borne by the nation as God’s chosen people had fallen.

The people confessed too late, “We have sinned” (Lamentations 5:16). Overcome with sorrow, his eyes dimmed by tears, Jeremiah looked upon Mount Zion where the Temple once stood, and realized it had become a haven for wild beasts as “foxes walk upon it” (Lamentations 5:18).

Jeremiah’s lamentations closed with him praying for his people. Remembering the LORD is the Eternal God and Sovereign “from generation to generation” (Lamentations 5:19), he called upon the LORD. He was troubled, for he felt as though the LORD had forgotten and forsaken His people (Lamentations 5:20). Yet, knowing the LORD is merciful, Jeremiah concluded his ministry and prayed: “Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; Renew our days as of old. 22But thou hast utterly rejected us; Thou art very wroth against us” (Lamentations 5:21-22).

 

Closing thoughts

Like ancient Judah, much about our world is disturbing and disheartening. Yet, the LORD used Jeremiah to preserve a historical record of what He requires of His people. The wickedness of the 21st century demands God’s judgment, and we should identify our personal and national sins and confess them. We should, like Jeremiah, pray and remember that the LORD is Eternal and Sovereign “from generation to generation” (Lamentations 5:19).

Let us confess the sins of our homes and nation, call upon the LORD, and turn our hearts to Him.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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