Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The Suffering Of The Jews
“How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” (Lamentations 4:1-2)
Jerusalem had been destroyed. Like tarnished gold the once glorious city had become just a ruin. The Temple had been torn down and the stones lay in the streets. The princes and priests that used to be so admired have been arrested, with many of them executed as if they were of no more value than a piece of broken potter, and others were carried away as slaves. Jeremiah was deeply hurt to see Jerusalem in such a state.
“Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.” (Lamentations 4:3-5)
Like most warm blooded animals, whales nurse their babies, caring for them until they are mature enough to fend for themselves. Because of the siege against Jerusalem, the Jews had gotten so inured to suffering they were like an ostrich in the desert, so busy trying food for themselves they forget about their children. The children were dying of thirst and starving to death and nobody did anything about it. People who had always had everything they wanted and had the best clothing were homeless in the streets.
“For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire: Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (Lamentations 4:6-10)
When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed it was over in a matter of hours. Jerusalem’s destruction was drug out for over a year and a half, and even after it was destroyed, the people were still captives and slaves. Where those who had taken the Nazarite vow to serve God had once been healthy and admired, they were now sunburned and emaciated and no one paid any attention to them. Many people had cooked their own children for something to eat. Those who were killed in the battle were better off than those who died of starvation because their death was not dragged out.
“The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there. The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.” (Lamentations 4;11-16)
Knowing how God had protected and blessed Israel in the past, the rest of the world would find the level of suffering in Jerusalem unimaginable. God was demonstrating his anger at their rebellion against him. The prophets and priests who were supposed to teach the people to follow God’s law had forgotten the law and had become so corrupt they had been involved in the murders of those who were doing what they should. They were telling people what God commanded was wrong and were fighting among themselves. The people had lost respect for their leaders and the priests.
“As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness. The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.” (Lamentations 4:17-20)
The Jewish people had looked for their government to save them and discovered it wasn’t able. They found themselves being hunted down and expected to be killed at any moment. They had no hope of escaping their enemies and were sure they would be forced into slavery among people who hated them and their God.
“Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.” (Lamentations 4:21-22)
The Edomites better gloat over the destruction of Judah while they could because it was finished and their own destruction would soon follow. There were no more Jews to be hauled to Babylon and the Babylonians would be free to turn on Edom for their rejection of God.