Read Lamentations Two
Behind the tears of the prophet is God’s own grief. God is grieving over His people’s sin and the consequences that come from their sin. God is present and He is grieved.
But God is not the only one present. In verses 14 through 16, we note three other people who have been with Israel in this time.
Read Lamentations 2:14-16. Identify the three different categories of relationships mentioned.
What has each relationship done?
How does this contrast with what that relationship was intended to do? Or, what would be expected of that relationship?
The first (and most significant) of the relationships is Israel’s prophets. Prophets, as we saw yesterday, were intended to speak to the people on behalf of God. They were to lead the people in righteousness – on behalf of God. They were to point them to the coming Savior – on behalf of God. They were receive visions from God and speak them to the people, interpreting their meaning and directing the people according to God’s will. But Israel’s prophets have reported falsely to them about their visions. They’re making up stories in the heads and telling the people what they want to tell them – they are not speaking on God’s behalf. Perhaps this would be less grievous (though still wrong) if they did not hold the position of prophet among the people of God! They have abused their role, speaking deceit, and leading the people astray.
This rings incredibly true in Jeremiah as well:
Prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as thought it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace.
What is the accusation of this passage?
What is the “wound” Jeremiah is referencing?
The failure of the prophets is that they have misrepresented the severity of Israel’s sin. Israel has turned from God in rebellion, and the prophets have shrugged it off. They said, “Don’t sweat it – you’re right with God. There’s peace between you and Him.” When, in fact, there was not. This is a serious failure, a grievous sin. And the result has been obviously devastating.
Secondly, Israel is surrounded by neighbors or friends. We would almost expect those who pass by to look on her with compassion. Instead, they hiss at her. They clap their hands in the direction of those who lay in the streets. The image here is of a person warding off a stray dog – clapping their hands in its direction because the beast is so ragged that it can’t be trusted. It’s despicable. And that’s what Israel’s false friends are doing – they are passing by and warding her off with a clap so that she doesn’t come any closer. Of course, they would never take this stray into their homes – she’s hopeless! They’re not going to give her a bath and clean her up, they just want her to stay far away.
And lastly, Israel’s enemies surround her. They are, in fact, the only ones acting as we would expect. The prophets have behaved wrongly, her neighbors and friends have treater with disgust, but her enemies are doing exactly what Israel would have expected and are reveling in her demise.
Read verse 17. What is in view here?
Of these three relationships, which is referenced here?
The prophets of old said that this would happen. Circling back to the prophets, the poet remembers: God told us this would happen. God said that if we did not turn from our sin that He would give us over to other nations. God said it thought prophets, but we listened to false prophets instead.
In these few verses we are reminded of the weight placed on God’s people to take sin as seriously as God does. When we move towards taking sin more seriously in our own lives we don’t look toward picket-sign holding people, but to the cross. There, at the cross, God displayed how seriously He takes sin. If God could have spared His own beloved Son, wouldn’t He have done so? Of course! But sin is serious, and the wrath of God against sin was poured out at the cross – for you and for me.
Are you ever tempted to shrug off your own sin? Have you ever encouraged a friend that their sin was “no big deal”? How might this passage serve as a warning for you?
How might it encourage you to repent of bearing a false voice in another’s life about the seriousness of sin?
Looking to the cross, how does Christ’s sacrifice remind you of the seriousness of sin in your own life?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that He takes sin seriously and that He sent His Son.Thank Him that He looks upon you and see the righteousness of His Son. Ask Him to forgive your sin. Ask Him to purify you by His Spirit.