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 143: The Grand Finale

Jeremiah 33:10-13

Yahweh says: “Yet again there will be heard in this place, about which you say, ‘It is waste, without man and without animal, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without animal,’ the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ‘Give thanks to Yahweh of Armies, for Yahweh is good, for his loving kindness endures forever;’ who bring thanksgiving into Yahweh’s house. For I will cause the captivity of the land to be reversed as at the first,” says Yahweh.

Yahweh of Armies says: “Yet again there will be in this place, which is waste, without man and without animal, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the South, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of him who counts them,” says Yahweh.

In the United States, we have Independence Day celebrations every year that include firework displays. These shows usually end with an unusual amount of fireworks going off all at the same time. We often call it “The Grand Finale.” When I read this chapter of Jeremiah, it seems like God’s Grand Finale about His intention to restore Israel to the land. He says it over, and over, and over again. If you compare each reminder to a rocket, it’s like they are exploding one after another in rapid succession.

Notice that both these statements say: “Yet again…” God is repeating over and over to Jeremiah while He’s in jail that things are going to be better. There will come a time when the Israelis are happy again and without concern. It’s obvious, as real rockets are launched into Israel today, that this day has not yet come. God also mentions the fact that they will be talking about bringing “thanksgiving into Yahweh’s house.” That can’t be Israel today because God’s house isn’t even there.

Those who say that God is finished with Israel today will have to deal with the Bible, though. Once again, it comes down to whether you are going to believe God or man. If you are going to believe man, why believe the Bible at all? There are plenty of other things that God says much fewer times in the Bible that you would have to reconsider if you are going to be consistent. The underlying issue is that if the Bible isn’t true about Israel, then it could be wrong about your everlasting life as a Christian. Thankfully, God repeats Himself in the Bible about Israel and our salvation. If we believe that we are saved, then the only consistent thing to do is to believe Israel will go on forever too. When we fight against the Bible in any area, we hurt ourselves and our witness to others.

If you are one of those Christians who believes that this is talking about the Church, then you are also calling your own salvation into question. If God is able to talk to Jeremiah, while he’s in jail about the Church, knowing that Jeremiah will believe that He’s talking about the Jews, couldn’t God do the same to you? Could it be that someone else will be saved and have eternal life other than you because God is only symbolically talking to you today? So you see, this is an important subject to us now and one that each Christian should settle in their minds.

Day 23: God’s House

John 2:12-17 : After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will eat me up.”

The Passover celebrates God’s delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery. It is also a representation of the Lamb of God that would take away sin, because by the blood of a lamb, the houses of the Jews were passed over by the angel of death which took the lives of all of the first born children of Egypt.

It was required at that time for Jews to make sacrifices, so the animals were being sold in the temple. This obviously troubled Jesus enough to take extreme action. This is one of the notable acts of Jesus that was far from being “meek and mild.”

If the temple is full of marketing, how can a person get to see God? How horrible to think that anything would get in between God and man when man needs God so much.

God should be the main event of the temple. God does not allow competition for our attention. Yes, the Bible does say that God is jealous for our love. He is not jealous of you, but for you. This means he doesn’t want anything to compete with Him for your attention. God knows that there is nothing better for you than to keep your attention on Him. Most of us have had to learn this the hard way.

When the house of God has marketing going on inside of it, it distracts you from giving God the attention He deserves. Does this apply to our churches? I honestly don’t think the Bible is saying that at all. The temple is where God’s presence is. The temple is not your church building. If you are a believer in Jesus, the temple is your body:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 : Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

What would it mean to have our temple become a market place? Perhaps it is when we allow things in this world to fill our minds instead of God. Perhaps it is when we don’t present ourselves as those who have God in ourselves. Here are some questions to ponder: “What about you is more amazing than the fact that God lives in you? When people come to visit you, what do they come to see?” God really is more amazing that anything else and being one that has God living inside is to be one whose most important quality is God’s presence. The church building is not the temple, but we are as believers, and we should encourage each other to keep ourselves true to God and not allow the world to corrupt us.