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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Ignoring the Warnings (Lamentations)

I read through the Bible every year. But I normally do that with the goal of getting my check mark, rather than trying to understand how it applies to my life. So this year, in Lamentations, what has always seemed whiny complaining, took my breath away.

The book of Lamentations gives us a look inside Jerusalem in 586 BC, in the months leading up to its destruction, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon broke down the wall, burned the city, and destroyed the magnificent temple.

Judah had already seen the Assyrians come and take Israel, the northern kingdom, into exile. But they still somehow thought it would never happen to them.

They had been warned for years to turn their hearts back to God and stop worshiping idols. God used prophet after prophet to give them specific warnings:

Micah proclaimed the Babylonian captivity: Micah 4:10 "For now you will go out of the city, dwell in the field, and go to Babylon."

Habakkuk was dismayed that God would use the godless Babylonians to discipline his own people: Habakkuk 1:12-13 "O LORD, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery?"

Jeremiah prophesied to them for 23 years. They beat him, put him in stocks, threw him in a cistern to die, and placed him in jail. They did everything they could to silence his warnings about Babylon rather than listen to him.

Isaiah told King Hezekiah that everything that he proudly showed the Babylonian visitors, all the treasures of the land, they would take back to their country. Along with the treasures, the people would also be taken into captivity: Isaiah 39:6-7 "'The time is coming when everything in your palace - all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now - will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,' says the LORD. 'Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon's king.'"

But in spite of these warnings which told exactly what would happen to them even including who God would use to bring judgment upon them for their sins, they continued to ignore them. They continued to sin. They continued to think it would never happen to them.

But this time as I read Lamentations, instead of reading the word "Jerusalem," I kept picturing "our nation." Our nation, established as one nation under God, continues to ignore God's Word, His commandments, and His warnings, and instead choose sin. Just like Judah, we think God will continue to bless us in spite of His warnings to repent and turn back to Him. Just like Judah, we think it will never happen to us.

Yet as I read Lamentations and what was going on as the siege started, food becoming scarce, the enemy closing in around the walls, I can see the same judgment just over the horizon for our nation.

Dear Lord, We are prideful and full of sin, just like Jerusalem was. When I read the words of Lamentations 4:12 "Not a king in all the earth - no one in all the world - would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem," I can't help but picture the breach of our southern borders that goes largely ignored. I can't help but think of how "wrong" is celebrated and encouraged while "right" is scorned.

Lord, I am just as sinful as anyone else in this nation. But the desire of my heart is to live to bring You glory. Please protect my heart so that my longing for You never wanes. Lord, show me how to glorify You each day and how to share your message of truth and love with those You put in front of me.

Lord, I pray that our nation would wake up and turn back to You before it's too late and Babylon comes upon us. I can hear them knocking at our door and I know we deserve whatever You send. But even in this, I will worship You alone. In Jesus' name, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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