Summary: This is the final message in a series from the book of Lamentations.
Our culture is perhaps the most unique culture to ever exist on the earth. Our mindset is unlike any other in history. We live in what is called a “Post Modern” world. When Pontus Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” He could never have known that he was echoing the sentiment of an entire culture. Our culture would answer Pilate’s question by saying, “It’s relative, it all depends upon your perspective.” To the post modern mind truth is a human concept, built upon human precepts, which can shift according to perspective. Experience is valued above reason, and any absolute truth is automatically disqualified. The absence of absolute truth has fueled the pursuit of pleasure and self gratification. With so much energy being poured into the pursuit of joy you would think that our culture is the most contented to ever walk the face of the earth. However just the opposite is true. More antidepressants are prescribed by physicians than any other drug. Drugs such as Lexapro, Zoloft and Effexor are in the top twenty of the most prescribed brand name drugs. The truth is that we seem to be a culture that is receiving the wages of sin. Over the last two decades we have seen a sharp increase in drug addiction, alcoholism, child abuse, divorce, rape, suicide and murder. The obvious truth is that our quality of life is not improving, it is getting worse. Despite all the signs we still stand firm in the conviction that happiness can be found apart from God. We continue to pursue the American dream which in reality is turning out to be a nightmare. We need to listen clearly to Jeremiah’s message, for it gives us a timeless warning, “Sin can never deliver what it promises.” God is the only one that can deliver lasting joy and contentment. Let’s open our hearts to see what lessons we can learn from this final chapter of Lamentations.
I. Lamentations five records the prayers of Judah’s survivors for God to remember their plight.
A. The people recount the details of the tragedy that they have experienced.
1. God used the leadership of Moses and Joshua to drive other nations out of the land because of their wickedness, giving it to the Israelites “as their inheritance” but the inheritance has now reverted to its previous inhabitants.
2. He showed himself in the past to be a God who “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow”, but now he has brought this fate on his own children.
3. The warning of Deuteronomy 28:43–44 has become a reality. They are reduced to paying for their water and wood, as they had been in the Wilderness, rather than using the foreigners in their midst to haul wood and water for them.
4. They were supposed to find peace in the Promised Land but their enemies constantly surround them.
5. They are forced to borrow from their powerful neighbors for food, rather than being the one to lend to other nations.
B. The people admit that their tragedy was a result of pursuing a life without God.
1. The sentiment of verse 7 suggests that they are still “in denial” to some degree about their present state. This is not their fault; their ancestors sinned, but they are suffering for it.
2. It reflects a common human reaction. Somebody else’s crimes always seem worse than our own. Some other car was going faster than ours, but the traffic cop has pulled us over.
3. There is a momentary turn toward repentance in verse 16. There is a general admission of guilt, but the absence of any specification makes one wonder how clearly they see their sins. Rather than focus on that, they return to the suffocating suffering they endure.
4. The population sensed they were under a divine “woe” because of their sin. Their hearts were sick with sorrow, their eyes darkened by tears because of what had happened.
C. A picture of all those affected by this tragedy.
1. The people express the appalling state of affairs. Foreign servants not even foreign kings rule over them.
2. They are desperate for food, as they face military threats not just in their cities, but in the farthest reaches of the desert.
3. Then they describe how each segment of the nation’s social fabric suffers shame and despair.
a. All women, both married and virgins, have been sexually violated.
b. Neither royal leaders (princes) nor traditional family leaders (elders) are shown the honor they deserve.
c. The boys should be enjoying their youth, but they are being made to do the work of adults.
d. One does not hear the typical sounds of young and old (young men and elders) in city life.
4. There is no joy, no dancing, no wearing of crowns in honor and celebration.