Summary: Because of God's mercy and loyal steadfast love, we have hope, no matter how hopeless our situation.
OUR ENDING FAITHFULNESS VS. GOD’S UNENDING FAITHFULNESS
It is great to be back at AIT. I remember attending our 42nd anniversary. To think we would flooded out soon never crossed my mind. I know many of you have lost much and I have been praying for you continually. Our still being able to meet at Calvary Baptist Church and back here today is a testimony to God’s faithfulness.
During the last few months, when many of you had to relocate did you ever question God’s faithfulness? It’s ok if you have. Did you ever feel He was through blessing you? Like you would never experience His favor in your life again? Have you ever asked these questions? Is there any hope? Because the one thing that keeps us going when everything else has failed is hope. It has been said man can live 40 days without food, 3 days without water, 8 minutes without air, but only 1 second without hope. If you are without hope it is like being in a black hole.
I want us to look today at God’s faithfulness even when we are faithless. That hope should make anyone who has strayed from God return. Our passage is Lamentations 3:1-40.
There is a lot here. It was most likely written by Jeremiah in 586 BC when the Southern Kingdom, Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah was allowed to remain in Jerusalem. And as he saw the ruins, which were brought on by his people refusing to repent before God, he lamented. It is not a happy passage. Maybe you might be able to identify with what he is feeling. But remember, there is hope. I promise I will end on a good note.
As I read it, listen and read along, and see if you can enter into what Jeremiah is experiencing.
Let me give you some background. Israel had many kings. That was not God’s plan. They were His people and He wanted them to live under His Kingship instead of a human king. But they insisted and in 1 Samuel 8 and 9 Israel got what they wanted and Saul was anointed as King. Saul did not have a heart for God and he was replaced by David; a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 16:7). David did have a heart for God, but as we all know, one night he was where he shouldn’t be, seeing what he shouldn’t see and doing what he shouldn’t do. We all know the results of that (2 Sam 11, 12).
David’s son Solomon succeeded him. Solomon was a man of much wisdom, as seen when he became king (1 Kings 3) but he had 700 wives and 300 concubines who turned his heart away from God (1 Kings 11). And because of this, Solomon was told that the kingdom would be torn away from him, but for the sake of God’s covenant with David and for Jerusalem, he would not lose the whole kingdom. Thus 10 tribes made up the Northern Kingdom, with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin making up the Southern Kingdom.
The Northern Kingdom, because of their disobedience to God was carried off into Assyrian Captivity in 722 BC.
God, in His mercy and justice sent prophets to warn the people of their errant ways. Although there were several, the message was for the people to repent and return to God, and experience His blessing, or to continue to disobey and experience His judgment. Following this, there was a succession of kings; some good, but most of them were bad.
Jeremiah was sent to prophesy to the Southern Kingdom. Manasseh had been king for 58 years and his reign was an evil reign. Josiah became king at age 12 and he was a good king. He discovered the Mosaic Law in the temple and tried to get the people to return to it. Yet, because of problems and alliances with Egypt, he died at age 39. His 3 sons succeeded him; they were all wicked kings. The Assyrians pretty much lost their power and the Babylonians were increasing in power. In 597 BC they attacked Jerusalem. In 586 BC they besieged Jerusalem and over 1 million people were killed. The temple was destroyed, and those remaining were deported to Babylon. It was during that time that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.
Jeremiah was known as “The Weeping Prophet.” Although most people looked down on him, and rejected his message, he was obedient to God’s call on his life. His life was one of martyrdom, as he did not have a family and was denied many of the other pleasures of life. Yet he faithfully carried out his mission.
There are some questions we need to ask when we read the prophets. First, how does God look at a culture that knows Him but turns Him away? Even more convicting is on the individual level; how does God look at one of His children who knows Him but turns away? How do we deal with God’s justice versus His love? And how do we reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s free will. I once shared with a friend that you cannot reconcile these two. He wanted me to show him a verse that shows God is in control of everything. I explained that you don’t build your doctrine or theology on one verse of Scripture. Instead, you look at all the verses that speak on this. The Bible tells us in many places of God’s control of all the events that happen. Yet they also tell us that man is responsible before God. How do you put them together? I don’t know. And neither do you.