Day 18: What We See and What Will Be

Lamentations 4:1-6 :

How the gold has become dim!
The most pure gold has changed!
The stones of the sanctuary are poured out
at the head of every street.

The precious sons of Zion,
comparable to fine gold,
how they are esteemed as earthen pitchers,
the work of the hands of the potter!

Even the jackals offer their breast.
They nurse their young ones.
But the daughter of my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.

The tongue of the nursing child clings to the roof of his mouth for thirst.
The young children ask bread,
and no one breaks it for them.

Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets.
Those who were brought up in purple embrace dunghills.

For the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom,
which was overthrown as in a moment.
No hands were laid on her.

When I look at my world today, it appears that most popular entertainment assumes that God isn’t there. TV shows, movies and even the commercials promote things that go against God’s word. It’s as if there’s this assumption that Christianity is just a silly little pretend thing that some people like to do. At the same time, everyone seems to be getting and staying quite wealthy as if they are right in what they are thinking. What we read here in Lamentations, reminds us that what we see now, could disappear completely.

What Jeremiah witnessed was the fall of a great civilization and he lived to write about it. The expensive and great buildings of Jerusalem were turned into broken down slums. The children of this once great culture were lacking food and milk so badly that they were worse off than the wild animals around them. Those who used to live confidently in their wealth were now living in what I would probably call “crap” today. Jeremiah called it “dunghills.” It may have seemed, at one time, like the people were secure in their wealthy self-sufficient lives, but they weren’t.

Jeremiah writes, and God affirms, that “the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom.” Even though the people of Judah and Jerusalem appeared to be doing quite well without following God’s rules, they were actually setting themselves up for complete destruction. What we can learn from this is that what we see may not be even close to the reality of what is coming. It all depends on what God is preparing and that depends on how we treat His word. If a culture chooses to deny God’s word and follow their own way, they are building up wrath, but if they choose to repent and turn to God, they find His favor, even if they are poor. It’s important for us to not to assume that what we see here, represents the truth about a culture. In our current age, things can be turned upside down in a very short period of time.

Day 188: Taken Down by God

Jeremiah 48:29-38

“We have heard of the pride of Moab.
He is very proud in his loftiness, his pride,
his arrogance, and the arrogance of his heart.
I know his wrath,” says Yahweh, “that it is nothing;
his boastings have done nothing.
Therefore I will wail for Moab.
Yes, I will cry out for all Moab.
They will mourn for the men of Kir Heres.
With more than the weeping of Jazer
I will weep for you, vine of Sibmah.
Your branches passed over the sea.
They reached even to the sea of Jazer.
The destroyer has fallen on your summer fruits
and on your vintage.
Gladness and joy is taken away from the fruitful field
and from the land of Moab.
I have caused wine to cease from the wine presses.
No one will tread with shouting.
The shouting will be no shouting.
From the cry of Heshbon even to Elealeh,
even to Jahaz they have uttered their voice,
from Zoar even to Horonaim, to Eglath Shelishiyah;
for the waters of Nimrim will also become desolate.
Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab,” says Yahweh,
“him who offers in the high place,
and him who burns incense to his gods.
Therefore my heart sounds for Moab like flutes,
and my heart sounds like flutes for the men of Kir Heres.
Therefore the abundance that he has gotten has perished.
For every head is bald,
and every beard clipped.
There are cuttings on all the hands,
and sackcloth on the waist.
On all the housetops of Moab,
and in its streets, there is lamentation everywhere;
for I have broken Moab like a vessel in which no one delights,” says Yahweh.

We read in this prophesy that not only was Moab successful and rich, they were also proud and arrogant. God took them down from the hights of beauty, wealth and arrogance, to the depths of ugliness, poverty and shame. There was a time when they had everything and they thought that it was because of their own excellence. God chose to punish this group of people by completely removing all beauty, wealth and respect. Moab becomes an illustration of the teaching of the Bible about pride. Let’s look at that again.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

This also reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about being careful not to fall into sin and believe that everything is fine. Here’s what he said:

1 Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.

Just because you have it good, doesn’t mean that you are right. It could mean that you are about to be completely destroyed by God Himself. That’s what the nation of Moab discovered and it actually scares me when I think about the United States. It is true that we have had some excellence here, but now it is very obvious that sin has taken over the lives of a huge number of people. I believe that there is arrogance here and clearly we have a problem with the worship of money. God is the same God that brought Moab down to the dirt. May God help us before it is too late and we are completely ruined like Moab was.

Day 185: Trusting in our Works and Treasures

Jeremiah 48:1-9

Of Moab. Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“Woe to Nebo!
For it is laid waste.
Kiriathaim is disappointed.
It is taken.
Misgab is put to shame
and broken down.
The praise of Moab is no more.
In Heshbon they have devised evil against her:
‘Come! Let’s cut her off from being a nation.’
You also, Madmen, will be brought to silence.
The sword will pursue you.
The sound of a cry from Horonaim,
desolation and great destruction!
Moab is destroyed.
Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.
For they will go up by the ascent of Luhith with continual weeping.
For at the descent of Horonaim they have heard the distress of the cry of destruction.
Flee! Save your lives!
Be like the juniper bush in the wilderness.
For, because you have trusted in your works and in your treasures,
you also will be taken.
Chemosh will go out into captivity,
his priests and his princes together.
The destroyer will come on every city,
and no city will escape;
the valley also will perish,
and the plain will be destroyed, as Yahweh has spoken.
Give wings to Moab,
that she may fly and get herself away:
and her cities will become a desolation,
without anyone to dwell in them.

An interesting thing about God’s punishment of Judah, is what He did to the nations around them. These nations were all enemies of the God of Israel for a long time, but God had allowed them to exist. I believe that the Bible indicates that God was waiting for them to repent and turn to Him. After all, they were right next to the nation of Israel. They were privileged to know how much God would do for those who love Him. In a very real sense, nations like Moab had more responsibility because they had more knowlege about God. Here we read that God not only pronounced punishment for Egypt, but also for Moab.

In this passage God gives a reason for His judgment. He tells Moab: “you have trusted in your works and in your treasures.” We could say this in a more modern way. We could say: “you have trusted in your career and in your wealth.” Even if you don’t worship a particular “god,” it’s possible to be judged for trusting in your money and position. That has obvious application to American culture as I write this. The Bible doesn’t tell us here, but God had already made clear what Moab should have done. Let’s go back in Jeremiah and see what God told Israel.

Jeremiah 5:25-29

“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good from you. For wicked men are found among my people. They watch, as fowlers lie in wait. They set a trap. They catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit. Therefore they have become great, and grew rich. They have grown fat. They shine; yes, they excel in deeds of wickedness. They don’t plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless, that they may prosper; and they don’t defend the rights of the needy.

“Shouldn’t I punish for these things?” says Yahweh. “Shouldn’t my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

God expects us to help the orphans and the needy. When we accept God’s resources and don’t help others, we tend to start trusting in the things God gives us instead of in Him. We may even excuse our hoarding by saying that we are just making sure we are safe. That sound’s good at first but is it money that makes us safe in an ultimate sense? If we stop giving to others, it’s a bad sign. We may be trusting in our jobs and in our wealth instead of in our God and that’s a punishable offense.

Day 68: The Truth about the Economy

Jeremiah 14:1-9

This is Yahweh’s word that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought.
“Judah mourns,
and its gates languish.
They sit in black on the ground.
The cry of Jerusalem goes up.
Their nobles send their little ones to the waters.
They come to the cisterns,
and find no water.
They return with their vessels empty.
They are disappointed and confounded,
and cover their heads.
Because of the ground which is cracked,
because no rain has been in the land,
the plowmen are disappointed.
They cover their heads.
Yes, the doe in the field also calves and forsakes her young,
because there is no grass.
The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights.
They pant for air like jackals.
Their eyes fail,
because there is no vegetation.
Though our iniquities testify against us,
work for your name’s sake, Yahweh;
for our rebellions are many.
We have sinned against you.
You hope of Israel,
its Savior in the time of trouble,
why should you be as a foreigner in the land,
and as a wayfaring man who turns aside to stay for a night?
Why should you be like a scared man,
as a mighty man who can’t save?
Yet you, Yahweh, are in the middle of us,
and we are called by your name.
Don’t leave us.

In this passage, we hear a complaint by Jeremiah about the conditions in Jerusalem. We read that God had sent a famine that was so bad that even the wild animals were dying. Jeremiah calls on God. He confesses Israel’s sin, recognizes that God is Israel’s Savior and asks Him not to leave them. We read God’s response in the next section. This was a horrible day for Israel, but in this passage we learn some very important things that our generation needs to keep in mind.

Do you think that if you work hard you will have a good economy and everything you need? This passage demonstrates that this is not true. The fact is that God must give us rain. In fact, He must give us everything that we will need to get wealth. Yes, we must apply our labor as well, but if it weren’t for God’s gifts, our labors would result in nothing. That’s what happened to Israel at this point. No matter how hard they worked, they couldn’t find water. No matter how well they plowed the field, nothing would grow. They probably couldn’t even hunt wild animals because they were sick and dying. Yes we need to work, but more importantly, we must trust in God to give us the ability to work productively.

This passage also demonstrates for us that God will allow those He loves to suffer because of sin. God allowed Israel to suffer even though He loved them so much. God also loved the animals, but God will allow animals that are under the care of man to suffer because of man! I am sure God hates this, but He has allowed it to occur and I believe it just adds to the failure of man. We are the sinners in this world and the animals were to be our responsibility. Jeremiah knew that God loved these wild animals and it could be that He purposefully brought it up to God because he knew that God loved them as well. Even so, Israel had sinned and God had to deal with it.