They have chased me relentlessly like a bird, those who are my enemies without cause. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and have cast a stone on me. Waters flowed over my head. I said, “I am cut off.”
I called on your name, Yahweh, out of the lowest dungeon. You heard my voice: “Don’t hide your ear from my sighing, and my cry.”
You came near in the day that I called on you. You said, “Don’t be afraid.”
As I read this passage again, I realized that enemies of Israel walk a very thin line. There’s only one good reason to be Israel’s enemy, and that’s if the God of Israel tells you that you must. Any other reason is not a good one. This passage tells us that Israel had “enemies without cause.” That tells me that they were attacking Israel for their own reasons without regard to God’s will. I’ve talked about this quite a bit as we have read the prophesies against Israel’s enemies, but it is very revealing that God tells us that they were taking advantage of God’s will to do their own, rather than simply being obedient to God in the matter. That’s something that we should also avoid. Our flesh can deceive us and make us think because something is good to do, that we are doing it for the right reasons. Even when we do something good, we must continue to rely on God’s power to do those things, otherwise we may fail to actually be doing those things with the right attitude.
The most wonderful thing about this passage is the fact that God was listening to the cry of His people. It clearly says here that “You came near in the day that I called on you.” Obviously, God wasn’t ignoring His people as was written just a few lines earlier. It just felt that way.
One of the most common messages that God brings to man is repeated here. It is: “Don’t be afraid.” Rarely a day goes by that I’m not afraid of something. The fact that God says this to us so often, tells me that fear is a serious problem for all of us. That’s one of the interesting things about sheep. They are pretty easily spooked. We are like sheep to God and He kindly reminds us to not be afraid, even after we have done wrong. In a sense, Lamentations has been an expression of fear that culminates in this wonderful three words. When we worry, we can really make life complicated but God shows us that the way forward is to simply keep trusting in Him.
“Am I a God at hand,” says Yahweh, “and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I can’t see him?” says Yahweh. “Don’t I fill heaven and earth?” says Yahweh.
One of the most amazing and important things that shaped my life is the fact that God is everywhere. At a very young age I was taught about God and I remember when I took to heart the fact that God is always there. It is true that we read about God going to different places in the Bible, but that is clearly just one representation of God and I believe that God does it this way for our sake. We really don’t understand how God can be everywhere, but when you accept the truth of it, it can begin to change your life.
When I was young, the thing that really impressed me was that every minute of my life, God was watching. There was no moment to myself when I can do something secretly. Everything is in the open and I think that this is exactly what God is telling the false prophets here. Nothing that they are doing is hidden or secret to Him. I also realized that the fact that God is always watching and that He has expectations of us, shows us that He loves us with a greater love than anyone else. Who else has such high expectations of us? I did discover that I was unable to do good for God, though. I also had to learn that I needed God’s help everywhere I went too. When I finally understood that, I was able to actually start pleasing God everywhere. It doesn’t matter where we go, we always have God with us to help us and to guide us.
Science: Do you realize that our God provides the only true basis for science? The fact that God is everywhere in the universe at once makes Him the logical Creator of natural laws. We expect the laws of nature to be true everywhere. If the laws of nature changed in one part of the universe, then science would no longer work there. In order for science to be useful it demands universal law and universal law has no reason to exist unless the God of the Bible does.
The heart is deceitful above all things and it is exceedingly corrupt. Who can know it?
“I, Yahweh, search the mind. I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”
God had invested heavily in Israel and Judah. Even when things were not going well, God continued to try to bring them back. Jeremiah was now pronouncing that the final end was about to come. God was now going to remove His investment, but God knows everything. With that knowledge, why would He invest in a complete failure? I believe that this passage is critical to understanding what was really taking place. God was using Israel as an example for all the other nations in all periods of time to witness. God was putting the very heart of man on display.
What we learn here is that the human heart is completely corrupt. God put the hearts of the Israelis on trial and they failed miserably. They had every physical advantage given to them by God, yet they ended up becoming worse than the people that God removed from the land before them. God gave them everything except for one thing. He didn’t give them a heart change and that ended up being the thing they really needed. God was able to expose the wicked heart of Israel by exposing their actions. He knew how their actions related to the thoughts in their hearts. I believe that God used His laws to expose their evil. He then demonstrated what happens to people who don’t obey His laws.
It would be pretty depressing if that was all God was doing with Israel. Jesus made it clear to us that the reason that all this was taking place, was to prepare their hearts for the Messiah. What we learn from Israel’s example is that the human heart is naturally corrupt. We can’t do anything but sin when our hearts are exposed by God’s law. That’s the power of the Ten Commandments. They prove that we are corrupt, but it doesn’t stop there. Jesus has come and made a way for us to have our hearts replaced with incorruptible ones. God’s intent wasn’t to merely expose our corruption, but reveal His love us by solving our problem. This was His intent from he very beginning.
For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.