Summary: A message in a series from the Book of Lamentations.
We have reached the halfway point in our journey through the book of Lamentations. The images have been quite graphic to say the least. We have vividly seen the consequences of continued disobedience put on display. By now you have probably begun to discover the central theme of the book through Jeremiah’s words. “The effects of disobedience are great, but the compassion and love of the Lord is far greater.” Despite the tragic nature of the consequences brought on by Judah’s disobedience, the situation is not without hope. The hope is seen in the fact that God stays with His people regardless of how disobedient they become. Despite feeling like he had fallen into a deep dark hole, Jeremiah discovered this truth to be quite evident. When Jeremiah finally reached the point where he was able to look up from his circumstance he saw that God’s mercy and compassion are unfailing. Regardless of how deep the hole we have dug for ourselves, God is still there, and He still loves us. As we examine that last half of the third chapter of Lamentations, we will discover Jeremiah reaffirming the great truths he has learned. Let’s open our minds and hearts to the timeless truths and hope contained within Jeremiah’s words.
I. Gaining some important perspective about Jeremiah’s ministry.
A. Jeremiah persevered in a forty year ministry devoted to warning the nation of Judah that judgment would come unless they turned back to God.
1. One has to wonder how long anyone can endure a seemingly fruitless ministry.
2. Day after day Jeremiah poured out his heart trying to get Judah to turn back to God but his pleas seemingly fell upon deaf ears.
3. Warning after warning went unheeded resulting in the consequence of God allowing the full force of the Babylonian army to descend upon Judah.
4. The piles of rubble left behind serve as a graphic reminder of the devastation continued disobedience can bring about.
B. As Jeremiah looks over the grizzly scene his heart breaks and he expresses his grief and sorrow over Judah’s fate.
1. Though he could not forget the sufferings which he had experienced, Jeremiah still found reason to hope in God.
2. Suffering such as Jeremiah and Judah are experiencing is not eternal. What is eternal is the Lord’s love, His compassions, His faithfulness
3. Contained within these truths Jeremiah found strength and hope that would enable him to endure the suffering and deep sorrow he was experiencing.
II. Three truths to live by when the days are dark.
A. God is infinitely just.
1. God does not get His kicks by inflicting people with suffering and pain.
2. God does not hand out undeserved punishments, when He does punish, you will find love and compassion following close behind.
3. The Lord is aware of suffering and injustice, although some might charge otherwise. Nothing that takes place, good or evil, escapes God’s notice.
4. God’s goal is to give us what’s best for us, whether we want it or not. He loves us too much to do anything less.
B. God is sovereign if He says something will happen you can count on it.
1. God sends both calamities and good things, in consideration of His self-proclaimed character and in reaction to the good and bad deeds of people.
2. God is being true to his divine character when he punishes sin.
3. Jeremiah is honest enough with himself to realize that his present suffering is deserved punishment, not a mistake. Therefore, he should not complain of unjust treatment.
4. God is ultimately in control of whatever goes on in the universe and He has designed both prosperity and adversity to be for our ultimate benefit.
C. God is holy; He is set apart from His creation.
1. God is our sustainer, redeemer and judge. He is holy and we are not. We are deserving of His wrath.
2. God does not force men to choose the path of disobedience with its resultant punishment. No one can then complain when he is punished for his sin.
3. Jeremiah encouraged the people to confess their sin and rebellion, which would make them more accepting of their current punishment.
4. These verses should not be read as bitter accusations against God but as contrite recognition that the people’s sins had brought God’s punishment. God had hidden himself from them like one hiding in a cloud and who refused to hear their prayers.
III. God is merciful but He will not tolerate continued disobedience.
A. The nation of Judah learned the hard way that God does not tolerate disobedience especially when it comes from His children.
1. The people instead of gaining their joy from living in obedience to God they decided to do it their way seeking to gain joy by pursuing the pleasures of the world.