The Lord’s Anger
It is impossible to understand this one verse without first taking in all that came before it.
First of all Lamentations is a book of 5 laments or poems. In this first poem, Jeremiah, the assumed author, is lamenting the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple by the Babylonian Army. To grasp the true devastation of this we must remember that Jerusalem wasn’t just another city it was known as the city of God and the Temple there as His dwelling place. Each verse in chapter 1 is divided by the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, a structure known to denote completeness.
On behalf of the city Jeremiah bemoans loss after loss after loss, including her standing among the nations, being abandoned by her allies, and becoming an easy prey. He laments the loss and observance of the prescribed and cherished festivals and names the LORD as the one who afflicted Jerusalem, attributing the blame to Jerusalem because of her rebellious acts. He lamented not only the abandonment of allies but that of her own leaders . Perhaps the most devastating thing to deal with was hearing Jerusalem’s enemies gloating over her – and know that she was no longer the prided Temple of God.
Is There Anyone Who Understands?
When we come to the 12th verse, Jeremiah’s heart break and desperation are really evident as he pauses, hoping to find someone – anyone – who seems to understand what he is experiencing and how it hurts. However, it has become evident by now that there is no one.
How Do We Apply It?
To be sure, there is something poetically beautiful and teachable about Jeremiah’s emotional lament for Jerusalem. He calls out from the depths of his heart, he calls out with his eyes not only on what they had lost but aware of why and how. He calls out with hope that God will see them and remember them, and yes – he calls out for God to visit His wrath on the nations who had maliciously raged against Jerusalem and their God. I believe we should lament over our sins, the sins of our country, and over the sins of the world. Clearly in light of the verses that lead up to verse 12 we should also be consciously aware of our actions and any sins that tempt us – staying alert to God’s will and the consequences that could come should we choose to rebel. We should also be careful not to let this make us fearful of God’s wrath but look at the reason that His wrath was incited and steer clear of those repetitive and rebellious actions that by their own admission deserved God’s wrath.
As for the actual application from verse 12, what struck me was that Jeremiah was so consumed with the loss and the subsequent lament that he was crying out to people on the street for pity. Yet perhaps as some suggest not only for pity but also that they would see what God will do even to those closest to Him when His anger is so stirred by sin. Matthew Henry, in his “Concise Commentary” said this about verse 12: “Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ.” Should we suffer due to sin and rebellion, as Jerusalem, may we remember well the price Christ paid on the cross for us and let it be our warning of encouragement to remain faithful.
Father, help us first of all to learn to consider the consequences of our actions, especially of our sin. Thank you for Jesus, the Redeemer of our sins – but O Father, let us not forget the hatred you have for sin so that we do not become rebellious and find ourselves in the place of Jerusalem and her people, weighed down by the consequences. Help us to love you more than self and to lament and turn from those things that break Your heart. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, rather than the people and the “nations” around us.
Don’t miss the Love God Greatly blogs M, W, F for some wonderful insights into the text of this study. On Tuesday’s you will find testimonials from missionaries and others God is using to translate His Word and these studies into every language, so that women every where have the opportunity to read and grow from the teaching of God’s Word.Love God Greatly