For an introduction to this series, click here.
Sept. 23, 2006
Lamentations is the record of the prophet Jeremiah's grieving over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It's another one of these books that I often have a hard time understanding (but this one's easy compared to Ezekiel). I did notice one important passage that has a very graphic reference, but the prophets often used graphic comparisons of adultery and prostitution with Israel's worship of false gods and association with heathen peoples:
Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy;
All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness;
She herself groans and turns her face away.
Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future;
Therefore her fall is terrible; she has no comforter.
O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.
(Lamentations 1:8-9, ESV)
The phrase that caught my attention was "she took no thought of her future." One of the things my home church pastor Elmo Parker used to say (and he probably still does) was that the devil never deals in the future: he always wants us to satisfy ourselves immediately, in the here and now. God promised the Jews a kingdom forever if they would obey His law, but they refused. They were looking for something new and exciting. Obviously this is true for us when it comes to our eternal state and our hope for eternal reward, but it is also true in practically all areas of our lives in this world. If we only live our lives for what brings us short-term pleasure and excitement we will soon regret some of the poor decisions we made. That's a lesson all of us have learned at some time or another, and it's a lesson too many of us (including me) have had to learn many times after we forgot it.
One more thing we must not overlook as we read this is that Jeremiah is displaying dark depths of emotion here in this book. A lot of people, including a lot of Christians, have the idea that showing emotion, particularly negative emotion, is somehow sinful. The life of Jeremiah, who is known as the "weeping prophet," demonstrates that this is not the case. Just because our tough-guy American society says people, especially men, shouldn't cry doesn't make it wrong in the eyes of God. A social faux pas does not always equal sin, just as there are also many things that are culturally acceptable that really are sins in the eyes of God.