Jeremiah had prophesied for years about the sins of Jerusalem. He had a difficult ministry to say the least.
Here are some of his struggles in his own words. He had grown up in Jerusalem. He had watched the people come for its feasts. He had seen the city overflow with people. Now it is desolate, like a widow whose husband left her. He is looking down on the city from a vantage point.
There is on the site of Golgotha a cave that is called Jeremiah's Grotto. This cave known as Jeremiah's Grotto comprises a part of the face of the skull; hence the name Golgotha. Because as you look at the cliff, with these caves that are there in the cliff take the appearance of a skull. One of these caves is called Jeremiah's Grotto. It is interesting that from those caves there on the site of Golgotha, you have a tremendous view of the city of Jerusalem, for Golgotha is actually the top of what was once Mount Moriah. And it looks down over the city of Jerusalem.
Tradition declares that Jeremiah sat in this grotto when he wrote the Book of Lamentations, and there he wept and cried over the desolation of the city of Jerusalem as he saw its ruins, as he saw the walls destroyed, as he saw the buildings leveled. And from this vantage, he wrote this book.
In the Septuagint, which is a translation of the scriptures into Greek that was done by seventy Hebrew scholars about 200 B.C., they prefaced the book of Lamentations with these words, "And it came to pass, that after Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented this lament over Jerusalem and said, 'How doth the city sit solitary.'" So, they have that as a prologue to the book of Lamentations, and it was picked up and put in the Vulgate.
There were those who told him and the inhabitants of Jerusalem that the LORD did not say what he was saying.
Jeremiah 14:14-16 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in My Name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.
The spiritual standing of a nation or a city or a church is shown by the intimacy with the LORD. Jerusalem was like a widow because she forsook the LORD. She left Him so He withdrew His Presence, Protection and Blessing.
Jeremiah was persecuted.
Yet, when his predictions vindicated him, he did not throw it in their faces of the few who remained. He couldn't say anything to the inhabitants of the city because the city was desolate. (I told you so)
He didn't comfort his own soul with the vindication (I told them so). There is no, "If you only listened to me! If you had not mistreated me!" There is no rejoicing in himself being right by the weeping prophet. There is no sense that they had what was coming to them, look how they treated me.
The lament shows the real character of the man. He wept. He was broken like Josiah. Jeremiah understood what Samuel struggled with. It was not him they were rejecting but rather the LORD and His Word.
Jeremiah proclaimed judgement but when it happened he offered grace and mercy and proclaimed it while continuing to be known as the weeping prophet.
1. We Must Stand Up For The Truth- Jesus Christ.
Stand up for Him
Stand against sin
Stand for righteousness and purity.
Pastors in Houston, TX today. Pray for them.
2. We Must Not Lose Our Concern For the Lost
They may be unrepentant.
They may be obnoxious.
We must be true.
3. We Must Not Become Judgmental Even If Someone Is Suffering Due to Sin.
Perhaps the strangest (and most distorted) things are said when someone suffers. If you have any doubts about that just look at Job or Jesus. Very few comforted them as they suffered.
If they have sinned they need our prayers. Jeremiah's Lament is full of pity, not mushy sentimentalism but true compassion and pain for the city of Jerusalem.
He felt the pain they were going through. There is no hint of judgmentalism here. There is no saying, "If you had only listened to me you could have avoided this horror."
There are many ways we can say, "I told you so."
You should have listened to me.
That is what you get.
Good for you!
We should not even think these things!
3. We Must Grieve When The Consequences of Sin Come.
No rejoicing over evil.
No rejoicing over judgement.
No rejoicing over someone getting "paid back" for the sins they have committed.
Never say about anyone, "They got what they deserve." Have mercy. Have pity. They reap what they sow but by the time the harvest comes in they know.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Zechariah 1:16 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there My house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the LORD Almighty.
Blessed are the merciful for they will obtain mercy.
Mercy- helping the afflicted.
Our response to things people have come into their lives as a consequence of their sin should be that of mercy and compassion and a sense of what they lost due to their foolishness and rebellion.
Pastor Chuck Smith from Why Grace Changes Everything:
Years ago a close friend operated a delivery business to a grocery store. During his rounds he met a wife of a man who owned a small market. They began to kid around with one another and, before long, they were meeting regularly to drink coffee and to talk. They soon fancied themselves in love, left their families , and moved in together. That's when this man's wife, also a dear friend, called us and asked if we would pray for him.
Meanwhile, the minister of the church where our friends had been attending paid a visit to the man. The pastor told him that he had a vision of a black hearse and if this man didn't leave this woman and go back to his wife, they were going to carry him out the room feet-first. This heavy handed approach only made the man more angry and entrenched him in his immoral decision. His wfe then called me and asked if I would go and talk to him.
I agreed to go and found my friend living in a shabby garage apartment on the bad side of town. When I saw this filthy little home, I was struck by how much he had lost. His wife and daughters were beautiful people. His home was in a wonderful area. This man had sold his soul for a crust of bread. As he came to the door, a look of shame covered his face. He was very polite and invited me to come in and sit down. As I looked around at my friend's new life I thought, "Oh God! How could he give up so much for so little?"
My heart was breaking because I loved this man. The sight of what he had fallen into tore me apart. I found myself unable to conceal my feelings, and much to my embarrassment I began to weep. I was overcome with grief, and when his lover emerged from the kitchen all I could do was sob. I finally got so embarrassed I said, "I'm very sorry. I came over to see you, but I can't talk right now." I got up, left, and went home feeling like a fool. Here my good friend's wife wanted me to visit him and make an appeal for reconciliation, and all I could do was sit there and cry.
The next morning I received a phone call with news that left me in shock. My friend had returned to his wife and family just hours after my visit.
What did God use to achieve this miraculous healing of a fractured relationship? Not a holier than thou attitude, to be certain. His Spirit had created in me a spirit of meekness and brokenness that ed to a joyful reconciliation. I thought I had blundered terribly- but I discovered that whenever we choose to walk in the Spirit, God delights to work powerfully in stunning and unexpected ways.
Jeremiah lamented because the people of Jerusalem and Judah did not listen to God's Word. They suffered immense loss needlessly.
God did not give up on His people. Even in Babylon He sent them prophets. One of them was Ezekiel. Ezekiel ministry began much like the story Chuck Smith told.
Ezekiel 3:15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.
A brokenness in our own heart is needed when ministering to people who have messed up in life. Jeremiah had it, Ezekiel had it and of course our Supreme Example is Jesus. He came down the hardest on the self righteous. He had mercy on those who were lost. Matthew 9:36 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
No, "See I told you so's". Have mercy. Have compassion. Let your heart break over the things that break the heart of God.
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