WISDOM FROM LAMENTATIONS

File:The captivity of Judah.jpg

 

Lamentations 1:1 (New Living Translation) – Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She who was once great among the nations now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave.

Lamentations 5:21-22 (New Living Translation) – Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still?

 

These are the opening and closing verses of the book of Lamentations, written by Prophet Jeremiah. Many avoid Lamentations because it is about grieving with sorrow over a devastating event; in this case, it is Jeremiah mourning the horrible destruction of Judah by the Babylonians and taking the people as captives.

This happened about 1000 years after God delivered Israel from Egypt and took them into a land of milk and honey (see previous post on Milk and Honey Part 1 and Part 2). When David was King, Israel was a very powerful nation, and when Solomon was King, it was a very rich nation. Here they were in Jeremiah’s era, a captive people.

The books of the prophets in the Bible, explain that this happened because Israel turned her back on God; consequently her Kings ruled very badly; her court judges were corrupt; her markets had traders who often cheated buyers; men were unkind and women cared more for their dress and make-up than their character.

Despite the prophets warning Israel for about 500 years to repent, they refused; and were then cruelly destroyed by Babylon. If Israel’s leaders, greatly favored by God, could get it wrong so badly, what about leaders of our nations today? Is it wise to place ALL our hopes for a better life, a better country, in the ability of our leaders today?

Psalm 146:3-5 (New Living Translation) tells us – Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Lamentations teaches a wise lesson that human leadership, no matter how blessed, will fail the people, from time to time. The only secure anchor we have is God; so in these difficult times of political insecurity everywhere, seek God earnestly and sincerely, and he will keep you and give you peace, Amen!   

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Image: The Captivity of Judah (Source: Wikimedia)

 

A NEW VISION FOR OVERCOMING GREAT LOSS

Delhi Gate 2

 

When Babylon horribly destroyed Judah and took all the people into painful bondage, the Prophet Jeremiah mourned this great loss of country, freedom, and prosperity. While Jeremiah mourned, a young priest named Ezekiel received new visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1 (NLT Bible) 

On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel saw six visions of God. In the first vision, Ezekiel saw God on a throne, which was carried by four very powerful Angels, moving speedily up and down between heaven and earth; Ezekiel describes the person on the throne this way:

Ezekiel 1, multiple verses, (WEB Translation)

…a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with flashing lightning, and a brightness around it, and out of its midst as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire. Out of its midst came the likeness of four living creatures. (Verses 4-5)

Over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of an expanse, like the awesome crystal to look on, stretched forth over their heads above. (Verse 22)

Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above. I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it all around, from the appearance of his waist and upward; and from the appearance of his waist and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. (Verses 26-28)

Judah was experiencing a catastrophe; the people had lost loved ones and all their property, all hope seemed lost. Under such torment, Ezekiel received this lightning and stunning vision of God. This was the perfect medicine for the hour.

The vision renewed Ezekiel’s faith. He saw that in spite of what Israel was passing through, the Almighty God was still ruler of heaven and earth. The vision turned Ezekiel from seeing the problem, to seeing God’s provisions and solutions for a fresh start.

How are you dealing with loss and grief? I encourage you to share your feelings of loss, pain and anguish, with God in prayer. I encourage you to pray for a new vision, a new light, to guide you out of the dark, into renewed joy and hope.

May the Lord, in his amazing grace, answer your prayer for a new vision, Amen!

 

Image: Delhi gate early morning, By DarNadeem – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42992045