Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Asking God Not To Forget

Lamentations 5:1-21

“Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.  Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.  We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.  We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.  Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.  We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.” (Lamentations 5:1-6)

Jeremiah was deeply concerned for the Jewish people, as he looked at their state.   He was asking God to have pity on them.  The fighting had ended and now life was just a daily grind, and they were humiliated before other peoples.  Some of the land had been given to people who had none of their own while other had been given those who served Nebuchadnezzar.  Many of them had lost their parents or mates.  They were charged for their water and firewood.  They were persecuted because they were Jewish, and forced as slaves to work at their master’s convenience.   They had to trade on the black market with Egyptians and Assyrian traders for enough food to survive.  It was a struggle just to live bay by day.    

“Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.  Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.  We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.  Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.” (Lamentations 5:7-10)

Their parents had done wrong and it resulted in their children suffering, like a family where the man has gambled away their money.   Their rulers had been men who had no concern about the needs of the nation, but were only focused on demonstrating their power.  Even going to fields to gather food was dangerous because of the robbers and thieves.  The results of malnutrition were visible in their skin color. 

“They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.  Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.  They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.  The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their music.” (Lamentation 5:11-13)

In Jerusalem, no woman was safe and even in the smaller towns girls were raped regularly.  Business men and workers were executed and leaders were publicly humiliated.  Young men were forced into menial labor often reserved for animals, and young children were forced to gather wood to survive.  The older men could no longer assemble to discuss issues and they young men had no time for singing or making music. 

“The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.  The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!  For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.  Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.” (Lamentation 5:15-18)

The Jewish people no longer had anything to celebrate.  Thinking about the things they used to celebrate now make them cry and what they took pride in has been taken away.  These things have happened to them because of their own actions, and they no longer have hope or see any means of making things better.   Where the city of Jerusalem had once been a source of pride and commerce, it was now just a deserted ruin occupied by foxes and other wild animals.
“Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.  Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?  Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.  But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.” (Lamentations 5:19-22)

Jeremiah knows God is eternal and that he has the power to change the people’s hearts, but at this point, it seems like he has given up on them and turned away.  Obviously he is very angry over their continual rejection.    Jeremiah is praying but has little hope for change unless people’s attitudes change.     

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