Day 2: The Sins of Jerusalem

Lamentations 1:6-9 :

All majesty has departed from the daughter of Zion.
Her princes have become like deer that find no pasture.
They have gone without strength before the pursuer.

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.”

A beautiful thing about this lamentation, is that it doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that the people of Jerusalem had “grievously sinned.” I am told that it isn’t uncommon for historic writers to conveniently overlook the errors and wrongs of their own nations. That’s something that really sets the Bible apart. The Bible is written in such a way as to glorify God, not the nation of Israel and in cases like these, that means that Israel must expose itself as a filthy sinner. That’s exactly what we read here.

As Gentiles who believe in the Bible, we must also come to grip with our filthiness. God makes it clear that the Gentiles were also hopelessly filthy, in fact, that’s another thing we learn from this lamentation. It tells us that “the enemy has magnified himself.” Not only did the Gentiles not deserve God’s blessing because of their idolatry, they added to it by acting as if they were better than Israel. That reminds me of two important teachings in the Bible.

God teaches us that when we gloat over the destruction of someone else, He may stop punishing the ones He is punishing because of our hypocrisy. Let’s look at what it says:

Proverbs 24:17-18 :

Don’t rejoice when your enemy falls.
Don’t let your heart be glad when he is overthrown,
lest Yahweh see it, and it displease him,
and he turn away his wrath from him.

God also teaches us that as Christians, we my be tempted to think of ourselves as better than the Jews. This teaching comes with a severe warning. Let’s look at that too:

Romans 11:18-22 :

don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don’t be conceited, but fear; for if God didn’t spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

The Bible clearly teaches that how we treat the Jews is an expression of the reality of our faith. If we act is if we are better, we obviously don’t understand salvation, which means that we aren’t saved yet either. To put it in blunt terms, if you look down on the Jews, you are going to Hell not Heaven because you don’t really believe in Jesus yet. When we really understand our sin and our salvation, we stop looking down on the Jews and everyone else who sins.

Day 216: The God of Justice and Mercy

Jeremiah 52:31-34

In the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evilmerodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and released him from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments. Jehoiachin ate bread before him continually all the days of his life. For his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him by the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.

Evidently, it took two days for king Evilmerodach to get Jehoiachin out of jail. I’m not sure about that but what we do know is that King Jehoiachin was released from jail on both the 25th and the 27th of the month. That’s because in 2 Kings 25:27 we read that Jehoiachin was actually released on the 27th. Perhaps it was officially decided on the 25th and ultimately executed on the 27th. I don’t believe that there is an error in the original text. It could be that the translation that we have of the original has an error but it appears to be more likely that the writers are writing from two different perspectives. One is probably talking about when the degree was issued, and the other is probably talking about the actual day that Jehoiachin walked out of jail. An accusation against the Bible, built on this alone, would be pretty pathetic since there isn’t enough information to prove that there is an error here. Still, I like to mention it so that no one is surprised when they see or hear about it.

The bigger thing to see here is the mercy and grace of God. Even here at the end of a book about the horrors of God’s judgment against sin, we read that mercy and grace was extended to Jehoiachin. This wasn’t just mercy toward this king. It was also mercy toward the nation of Israel. God had not forgotten them and He intended to do everything He said He would do

We have been following God’s story of the salvation of the human race. It’s no surprise that these events are followed by this amazing little passage. God is making it perfectly clear that He is a God of salvation. No one is beyond His mercy. Even after all of the sin and all of the prophesy that God performed against Judah, His grace came through in the end. This is the God that we have. I think that we know this in our hearts. God has put the truth in us that our God must be both a good judge and a merciful person. As a result we all have the same choice today. Either we will accept God’s mercy, or receive the judgment we deserve.

Day 210: Epic Themes

Jeremiah 51:49-53“As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall,so the slain of all the land will fall at Babylon.You who have escaped the sword, go!Don’t stand still!Remember Yahweh from afar,and let Jerusalem come into your mind.”“We are confoundedbecause…

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Day 203: Not Forsaken

Jeremiah 51:1-8Yahweh says:“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon,and against those who dwell in Lebkamai, a destroying wind.I will send to Babylon strangers, who will winnow her.They will empty her land;for in the day of trouble they will be against…

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