“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:22-23
I’ve been studying the book of Lamentations written by the prophet Jeremiah sometime during the fall of Solomon’s temple and the Babylonian captivity of the Jews in 586 BC. Let me give you a bit of background to the book. It is a book that is full of grief, of weeping, of God’s anger and judgment. Israel and Judah are being punished by God for conforming to the idolatry and the immorality of the neighboring nations. God has raised up Babylon to drag them into Assyria, and modern day Iraq, so that they will be their captors for almost 80 years. It is a hard book to read. It’s short, but it isn’t the kind of lift your spirit, encouraging words that many of us long to hear. Yet, planted smack dab in the middle of this book of poetic, Jewish, “depressing” literature are a few verses that cause my heart to hope in Jesus greatly.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose everything. The Jews had been attacked on their own soil. The Babylonians had destroyed their temple, their town, their homes, and their crops. The young and old alike were laying dead in the streets. Those who weren’t dead were starving to death. The prophet mentions that some were even eating their young starving children. All of this happened as a judgment against the Jews for all that they had done against the Lord in rebellion towards His law and His words. They failed to heed the warnings of the prophet, and even their spiritual leaders preached peace and safety until the enemy was upon the city gates. As one reads this book, you ask yourself: Why does Jeremiah come to the conclusion that God has done these things? Jeremiah was a priest living in the territory of the Benjamites. He had received the prophetic call of God around 626 BC, which means his prophetic ministry lasted 40 years until the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem, destroying everything and leading many into captivity. He died in Egypt where he was forcibly taken according to chapter 43 of Jeremiah. His prophecies are filled not only with the people’s sin and the coming judgment, but they are also filled with hope. Even today when Christians quote verses from Jeremiah they are the hope filled ones like:
1) Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
2) Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and wondrous things you do not know.”
3) Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!”
Is it possible to find God’s love in the middle of His judgment? Is it possible that God will judge the world because He loves the world? I heard a preacher say once: “That if God doesn’t judge America for her sin, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gommorrah.” Can we see that what motivates the coming judgement of God, and the great day of the Lord’s return is His love? Just as Jeremiah warned the people, so too, there are still prophets who cry out but no one listens. But everyone listens when tragedy strikes.
C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is a megaphone to rouse a deaf worl.d.
After 9/11 many people flooded the churches of America for a couple of months because they were awakened to the brevity of life, and how in a moment their safety and security they had held to be so certain was in jeopardy. Yet, if you remember the pictures of 9/11 like me, then you still remember that cross made from the shattered steel beams lying in the middle of the heap of burning rubble. It shows us that even when God allows destruction, tragedy, and even judgment - He is not without compassion or love. He is calling us to come to Him, to repent, and cast ourselves on Him. He is often trying to rouse a deaf world, trying to tell us: (a people who too often put our fingers in our own ears like children refusing to listen) that He loves us. His cross will always mean that. In the middle of God’s anger, His love never leaves us or forsakes us.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the Panhandle of Texas. He loves preaching and pastoring on the southside of Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years, and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.