Lamentations 1-2: A Lament Over the Loss of a City Judged by God

Miami, 1992. Hurricane Andrew paid us a visit like a buzz saw cutting through human lives. It didn’t discriminate. Mowed under its 150 mile-per-hour winds were homes and businesses of both the rich and the poor. It was an equal-opportunity destroyer. Likewise, the judgment of God won’t just come upon the rich or the poor. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or how many good deeds you’ve done. What will matter will be the condition your heart. Is it with God or with the world, that is ruled by Satan?

In these next 3 posts, I’ll cover the Book of Lamentations, written by the Prophet Jeremiah. Known as the “weeping prophet”, Jeremiah composed a song, a funeral dirge. He lamented the loss of Jerusalem, the beautiful temple that Solomon built, and the Kingdom of Judah. It’s a loss that could have been avoided had the people only obeyed God. Let’s dig in…

Lamentations 1 – Sorrow in Jerusalem

Jerusalem (Zion), once so full of people,
    is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
    now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
    she is now a slave.

She sobs through the night;
    tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers,
    there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her
    and become her enemies.

Judah has been led away into captivity,
    oppressed with cruel slavery.
She lives among foreign nations
    and has no place of rest.
Her enemies have chased her down,
    and she has nowhere to turn.

The roads to Jerusalem are in mourning,
    for crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals.
The city gates are silent,
    her priests groan,
her young women are crying—
    how bitter is her fate!

Her oppressors have become her masters,
    and her enemies prosper,
for the Lord has punished Jerusalem
    for her many sins.
Her children have been captured
    and taken away to distant lands.

All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem
    has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
    searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
    from the pursuing enemy.

In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
    Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.
But now she has fallen to her enemy,
    and there is no one to help her.
Her enemy struck her down
    and laughed as she fell.

Jerusalem has sinned greatly,
    so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag.
All who once honored her now despise her,
    for they have seen her stripped naked and humiliated.
All she can do is groan
    and hide her face.

She defiled herself with immorality
    and gave no thought to her future.
Now she lies in the gutter
    with no one to lift her out.
“Lord, see my misery,” she cries.
    “The enemy has triumphed.”

10 The enemy has plundered her completely,
    taking every precious thing she owns.
She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple,
    the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.

11 Her people groan as they search for bread.
    They have sold their treasures for food to stay alive.
“O Lord, look,” she mourns,
    “and see how I am despised.

12 “Does it mean nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    Look around and see if there is any suffering like mine,
which the Lord brought on me
    when he erupted in fierce anger.

13 “He has sent fire from heaven that burns in my bones.
    He has placed a trap in my path and turned me back.
He has left me devastated,
    racked with sickness all day long.

14 “He wove my sins into ropes
    to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.
The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies;
    I am helpless in their hands.

15 “The Lord has treated my mighty men
    with contempt.
At his command a great army has come
    to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trampled his beloved city
    like grapes are trampled in a winepress.

16 “For all these things I weep;
    tears flow down my cheeks.
No one is here to comfort me;
    any who might encourage me are far away.
My children have no future,
    for the enemy has conquered us.”

17 Jerusalem reaches out for help,
    but no one comforts her.
Regarding his people Israel (Jacob),
    the Lord has said,
“Let their neighbors be their enemies!
    Let them be thrown away like a filthy rag!”

18 “The Lord is right,” Jerusalem says,
    “for I rebelled against him.
Listen, people everywhere;
    look upon my anguish and despair,
for my sons and daughters
    have been taken captive to distant lands.

19 “I begged my allies for help,
    but they betrayed me.
My priests and leaders
    starved to death in the city,
even as they searched for food
    to save their lives.

20 “Lord, see my anguish!
    My heart is broken
and my soul despairs,
    for I have rebelled against you.
In the streets the sword kills,
    and at home there is only death.

21 “Others heard my groans,
    but no one turned to comfort me.
When my enemies heard about my troubles,
    they were happy to see what you had done.
Oh, bring the day you promised,
    when they will suffer as I have suffered.

22 “Look at all their evil deeds, Lord.
    Punish them,
as you have punished me
    for all my sins.
My groans are many,
    and I am sick at heart.”

Lamentations 1 NLT

Lamentations 2 – God’s Anger at Sin

The Lord in his anger
    has cast a dark shadow over beautiful Jerusalem.
The fairest of Israel’s cities lies in the dust,
    thrown down from the heights of heaven.
In his day of great anger,
    the Lord has shown no mercy even to his Temple.

Without mercy the Lord has destroyed
    every home in Israel.
In his anger he has broken down
    the fortress walls of beautiful Jerusalem.
He has brought them to the ground,
    dishonoring the kingdom and its rulers.

All the strength of Israel
    vanishes beneath his fierce anger.
The Lord has withdrawn his protection
    as the enemy attacks.
He consumes the whole land of Israel
    like a raging fire.

He bends his bow against his people,
    as though he were their enemy.
His strength is used against them
    to kill their finest youth.
His fury is poured out like fire
    on beautiful Jerusalem.

Yes, the Lord has vanquished Israel
    like an enemy.
He has destroyed her palaces
    and demolished her fortresses.
He has brought unending sorrow and tears
    upon beautiful Jerusalem.

He has broken down his Temple
    as though it were merely a garden shelter.
The Lord has blotted out all memory
    of the holy festivals and Sabbath days.
Kings and priests fall together
    before his fierce anger.

The Lord has rejected his own altar;
    he despises his own sanctuary.
He has given Jerusalem’s palaces
    to her enemies.
They shout in the Lord’s Temple
    as though it were a day of celebration.

The Lord was determined
    to destroy the walls of beautiful Jerusalem.
He made careful plans for their destruction,
    then did what he had planned.
Therefore, the ramparts and walls
    have fallen down before him.

Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground.
    He has smashed their locks and bars.
Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands;
    her law has ceased to exist.
Her prophets receive
    no more visions from the Lord.

10 The leaders of beautiful Jerusalem
    sit on the ground in silence.
They are clothed in burlap
    and throw dust on their heads.
The young women of Jerusalem
    hang their heads in shame.

11 I have cried until the tears no longer come;
    my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
    as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
    are fainting and dying in the streets.

12 They cry out to their mothers,
    “We need food and drink!”
Their lives ebb away in the streets
    like the life of a warrior wounded in battle.
They gasp for life
    as they collapse in their mothers’ arms.

13 What can I say about you?
    Who has ever seen such sorrow?
O daughter of Jerusalem,
    to what can I compare your anguish?
O virgin daughter of Zion,
    how can I comfort you?
For your wound is as deep as the sea.
    Who can heal you?

14 Your prophets have said
    so many foolish things, false to the core.
They did not save you from exile
    by pointing out your sins.
Instead, they painted false pictures,
    filling you with false hope.

15 All who pass by jeer at you.
    They scoff and insult beautiful Jerusalem, saying,
“Is this the city called ‘Most Beautiful in All the World’
    and ‘Joy of All the Earth’?”

16 All your enemies mock you.
    They scoff and snarl and say,
“We have destroyed her at last!
    We have long waited for this day,
    and it is finally here!”

17 But it is the Lord who did just as he planned.
    He has fulfilled the promises of disaster
    he made long ago.
He has destroyed Jerusalem without mercy.
    He has caused her enemies to gloat over her
    and has given them power over her.

18 Cry aloud before the Lord,
    O walls of beautiful Jerusalem!
Let your tears flow like a river
    day and night.
Give yourselves no rest;
    give your eyes no relief.

19 Rise during the night and cry out.
    Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him in prayer,
    pleading for your children,
for in every street
    they are faint with hunger.

20 “O Lord, think about this!
    Should you treat your own people this way?
Should mothers eat their own children,
    those they once bounced on their knees?
Should priests and prophets be killed
    within the Lord’s Temple?

21 “See them lying in the streets—
    young and old,
boys and girls,
    killed by the swords of the enemy.
You have killed them in your anger,
    slaughtering them without mercy.

22 “You have invited terrors from all around,
    as though you were calling them to a day of feasting.
In the day of the Lord’s anger,
    no one has escaped or survived.
The enemy has killed all the children
    whom I carried and raised.”

Lamentations 2 NLT

Lessons for Us Today

What can we, living today, learn from this?

  • God’s judgment is just, right and fair. Yet, it’s tough and disastrous.
  • In the day of the Lord’s anger or wrath, everyone who is found not worthy will have to endure the Great Tribulation. There will be no escaping it.
  • The reality of life is death. People die, pets die, cities and countries die. That’s life.
  • Don’t turn to ideals, governments, or humans. They can’t help you. Only obedience to God can and will. The Jews made deals and trusted some of the neighboring nations rather than trusting in God and look what happened.
  • They also trusted in the temple building and the religious rituals instead of God. In other words, don’t trust a church or religion to save you. Trust in Jesus ONLY.
  • There are 4 reactions to sin…
  • God is the agent behind the scenes of world events. He is the Sovereign God. Believe it or not, He is still in control. He used the Babylonians — the enemy — to judge Israel.
  • Sin causes us to lose our long-term outlook on life. We lose our vision when we’re wallowing in the mire of sin. We lose site of our destiny — which God promised to be an eternal life in paradise. We live for the moment and lose sight of His promise and confident Hope.
  • Sin must be judged. Period. Discipline is a part of life.
  • God gave us His Word — the Bible — to guide us. Therefore, He wants us to have a healthy respect for Him — that is, FEAR GOD. Consequently, you can read the Bible and sit in a church Sunday after Sunday, but if you don’t put into practice what the Word says and submit your life to Jesus, you will spend eternity in hell.

Jesus told us…

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33 NLT

He also said…

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27 NLT

I’ve lived through 6 hurricanes in my lifetime. (Which is why I live in Phoenix now!) When you drive around an area devastated by a storm, you see some strange things. In many places, there would be house with no roof, its windows missing, trees down — totally unlivable. Astonishingly, the house next door would be untouched. Why? God only knows?

Historical Notes

  • The destruction of Solomon’s temple happened on the 9th of Av, on the Jewish calendar. That’s July 18th of 586 BC. On that same day in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the temple that Herod built. The Book of Lamentations is read every 9th of Av, in Israel and by Jews everywhere.
  • Judah’s neighbors where happy to see the kingdom fall. Little did they know that they would be next. We’ll see that when return to the Book of Ezekiel.
  • The false gods and pagan idols couldn’t help them. Similarly, praying to Mary — whichever version of her you prefer (Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc. etc.) — accomplishes absolutely NOTHING.

God’s Final Judgment is coming whether you like it or. Whether you believe it in or not. You have a choice NOW. It’s a choice you have to make while you’re still alive and coherent.

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

One God

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Remember, you must not make any idols of silver or gold to rival me. Exodus 20:23

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