Lent 2022 Day 29

Lent 2022 Day 29

Mon 4 Apr

Lamentations 2:1-8 Lament

1 How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendour of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.

2 Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of Daughter Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonour.

3 In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it.

4 Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion.

5 The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for Daughter Judah.

6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting. The Lord has made Zion forget her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths; in his fierce anger he has spurned both king and priest.

7 The Lord has rejected his altar and abandoned his sanctuary. He has given the walls of her palaces into the hands of the enemy; they have raised a shout in the house of the Lord as on the day of an appointed festival.

8 The Lord determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away.

When the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah finally succumbed to the Babylonian empire, Jerusalem was laid to waste, its walls broken, the Temple destroyed and its treasures and holy artefacts plundered. All the major buildings were pulled down. All that was left was a handful of the poorest, who were left to tend vines. Read about it in detail in these excerpts 2 Kings 24:1-4 and 13-14 and 2 Kings 25:8-21. Or you might instead like to read the book of Jeremiah, one chapter a week until this time next year.

We might have the notion that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful God. Look, some might argue, at the way he let the great city of King David go to waste. But this is not vengeance, this is punishment. See how he allowed the most holy artefacts be plundered, items that he had commissioned the best craftsmen to create – surely this would be cutting off your nose to spite your face? God would not have taken any pleasure in allowing his Temple to be destroyed. In so doing, God was taking away from his people their chance, through the High Priest, to meet with him once a year. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar’s armies to defeat Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was a fearsome king. But God did not allow Nebuchadnezzar to gloat in his victory, for it was God who gave him the victory. Nebuchadnezzar met an odd end – read about it in Daniel 4.

When you look at the lament you realise that it is no more than words of deep regret. Israel and Judah had been warned again and again and again to forsake their false gods, to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the One True God, who would protect them and make them great among all the nations. God had not forgotten his covenants, but his people reneged on them. And now God finally acts. The solemn poetry is a sad paean to self-pity – silly people!

Do you act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God?

Does our nation act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God?

What did God give away when he let the Babylonians in?

Father God, you do not call me to wallow in my guilt. You do not call me to live as a second-class, disabled and unworthy Christian. Love and compassion are in your name. You prize your mercy over judgment. Lord, show your mercy on me. Amen.