Day 20: Rejecting Israel’s God

Lamentations 4:11-16 :

Yahweh has accomplished his wrath.
He has poured out his fierce anger.
He has kindled a fire in Zion,
which has devoured its foundations.

The kings of the earth didn’t believe,
neither did all the inhabitants of the world,
that the adversary and the enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem.

It is because of the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
that have shed the blood of the just in the middle of her.

They wander as blind men in the streets.
They are polluted with blood,
So that men can’t touch their garments.

“Go away!” they cried to them.
“Unclean! Go away! Go away! Don’t touch!
When they fled away and wandered, men said among the nations,
“They can’t live here any more.”
Yahweh’s anger has scattered them.
He will not pay attention to them any more.
They didn’t respect the persons of the priests.
They didn’t favor the elders.

Here I see another reason why God had to punish Israel for their rebellion. We are reminded, here, that the nations were watching. The nations, whether they were willing to be honest about it or not, knew that Israel’s God was different. The Bible tells us that everyone knows Israel’s God because He has put the knowledge of Himself inside of every one of us. These nations could see that Israel was rebelling against their own God and that God hadn’t done anything about it. It says in this passage that “The kings of the earth didn’t believe… that the adversary and the enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem,” but He did.

The world then reacted and rejected Israel too, but this exposes an enormous inconsistency in their behavior. If Israel’s God rejects people for their rebellion, what will Israel’s God do to them? Do they really think that by distancing themselves from Israel that Israel’s God won’t find them?

In our world, people attempt to make the God of the Bible into a god that is more like what they want. They hear what the Bible says about God but they choose to not accept it because they don’t think that god would really be like that. When people do this they are rejecting the God of Israel too. Whether we want to believe that God is like this or not is quite irrelevant. We can’t choose our creator. When we act like we can, are we not being ridiculous? The worse problem is that what the Bible does show us, is that when we reject the real God, He will reject us. God has given us a man-sized responsibility to choose, not to make up our own gods, but whether or not we will accept the real one. If we refuse, we can see, by observing Israel here, what will happen to us.

Day 19: A Disrespect for God

Lamentations 4:7-10 :

Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and of her miseries
all her pleasant things that were from the days of old;
when her people fell into the hand of the adversary,
and no one helped her.
The adversaries saw her.
They mocked at her desolations.

Jerusalem has grievously sinned.
Therefore she has become unclean.
All who honored her despise her,
because they have seen her nakedness.
Yes, she sighs and turns backward.

Her filthiness was in her skirts.
She didn’t remember her latter end.
Therefore she has come down astoundingly.
She has no comforter.
“See, Yahweh, my affliction;
for the enemy has magnified himself.”

The adversary has spread out his hand on all her pleasant things;
for she has seen that the nations have entered into her sanctuary,
concerning whom you commanded that they should not enter into your assembly.

Here in Lamentations, there are three main ideas that keep repeating over and over again and are expressed using various comparisons. The three ideas are that Israel’s enemies and supposed friends didn’t help her when she was attacked but instead mocked her, that Israel’s sin was the cause of all her problems, and her enemies defiled the temple.

In this passage, Israel’s sin is, once again, compared to sexual promiscuity. In a sense, there is a confession here that the reason those who used to honor Israel turned away, was because they saw her sin. That’s actually a good reason to turn away from someone. Sin is pretty gross. The problem was that many of these other countries were being gross too. Their sin wasn’t yet exposed like Israel’s was.

One of the biggest sins was that these nations defiled the temple. It’s one thing to show disrespect for Israel because they sinned. It was another thing to show disrespect for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is perfect. In that sense, He really is holy. Remember that the word holy means separate. God is separate from Israel and her sin, and He is separate from the Gentiles who were unrepentant and unwilling to follow God’s law. This disrespect for God is really the main issue. If Israel, with all of her advantages, were unable to follow God’s law, the Gentiles actually had no hope at all. Their arrogance against Israel only confirmed that they were God haters.

Lamentations really exposes the human condition doesn’t it? God is holy, but mankind is prone to evil just like a person who is prone to sexual promiscuity. We may try to avoid our own guilt by pointing out the guilt of others, but the fact still remains that we don’t measure up to what our Creator expects.

Day 6: The Witness

John 1:6-9 : There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

It’s good to note that the “John” in this passage is not the one who is writing. This is talking about the one known as “John the Baptist.” He was the a prophet just like the Old Testament prophets that God sent. His special purpose was to point the way to Jesus and John talks quite a bit more about it later.

The John who writes makes it clear that John the Baptist, was not “the light.” In other words, John the Baptist should not be confused with Jesus. John was not the light, he was just a man. It’s very important for all of us to remember that we are not the light either. We are just people. If we want to “shine” we need first to come to Jesus and then rely on His power as believers every day.

It’s worth noting that God likes to send people to “testify” about Jesus. As Christians we have been given a similar duty. Jesus sent all of us, much like God sent John.

We also read that the light of Jesus was meant for everyone. It really is a great thing to think about because up to this point, Judaism was only for Jews and those who were willing to become Jews. I think that many assumed that the Messiah would only be for the Jews. God had a plan for the whole world to see the light and this is truly one of the most surprising and wonderful aspects of this new light. It was certainly good news to those of us who were Gentiles.

John covers all of these things in more detail later.