Lamentations

This is a continuation from Part 1, here.

When Jeremiah wrote to tell the exiles in Babylon to plant gardens and settle down, I’m sure it was a bittersweet word for anyone there who would listen. The Jews were having such a hard time coping with their unpleasant and radical change that they had raised up for themselves prophets to foretell of their immediate return to Israel.

This is a continuation from my previous article, here, where we read Jeremiah 29:4-11. Jeremiah made it clear that anyone who told the exiles they would return soon was lying. They did not speak for God. This was the exiles lot in life, but they had not been abandoned by God.

We should carefully consider our future. Like I said in my last article, nothing lasts. No nation has persisted in perpetuity. They all rise, prosper and fall. How long they last is dependent entirely on the providence of God. He has clearly laid out how to extend that providence, but few nations have heeded such advice.

We have seen America go from a nation keenly aware of that providence to one tone deaf to its tune. Consider what George Washington said on our nation’s birthday:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

Today, we have no notion of what Washington speaks of. This Almighty that he invokes is no longer welcome in our pastimes, schools, public squares or entertainment. He is an outsider. To quote Jesus, our nation has made God to be, “a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed” (Matthew 25:24).

We have chosen for ourselves to ignore the hand of providence that would sustain us, and instead choose to believe that we, unlike all other nations in history, are invincible. We are a foolish lot, no different now than any who have gone before us.

Hindsight

Jeremiah said this of his people in his lamentations over his beautiful home, Jerusalem:

7In the days of her affliction and wandering

Jerusalem remembers all the treasures

that were hers in days of old.

When her people fell into enemy hands,

there was no one to help her.

Her enemies looked at her

and laughed at her destruction.

8Jerusalem has sinned greatly

and so has become unclean.

All who honored her despise her,

for they have all seen her naked;

she herself groans

and turns away.

9Her filthiness clung to her skirts;

she did not consider her future.

Her fall was astounding;

there was none to comfort her.

“Look, Lord, on my affliction,

for the enemy has triumphed.”

Lamentations 1:7-9

Jerusalem had sinned. That may sound odd, because we think of sin coming from people, not cities or nations. What Jeremiah is speaking of here is the corporate adherence to sin. This was not the sin of one leader, one key person, but the sin of an entire city and nation bent on refusing the wisdom of God. Jerusalem’s sin was the collective sin of her people.

Foresight

Verse nine is particularly chilling. “She did not consider her future.” How true of America today. Right now we see nations burning. As I write this, Kieve, Ukraine and much of Venezuela is burning. Nations are falling around us, but we do not consider our ways. A nation so prosperous cannot conceive of such problems coming here.

But come they will, because we are not the first nation and we won’t be the last nation. We are but one of many thousands of sovereign peoples adrift on the sea of history.

The question is, will we choose now to live with foresight, or will painful hindsight beset us like every other nation that has fallen?

But I’ll save that for next time.

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