Reading: Lam. 1:1-17
“Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. Lam. 1:9
Imagine a church where “blessed” messages of consolations and promises of prosperity are always preached. A prophet walks in and cries “woe” to it, for God is desperately indignant because of its sins. He also proclaims a catastrophe for the church since it has failed to repent… What would be their response? If he comes out safe, it is obviously God’s hands! Remember, prophets were never carriers of soothing words to a church immersed in sin.
“Lamentations” is a wonderful book written by the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah. It is unique in that it is a poetry from a prophet… it is his heart! He looks to Zion, once a festive city, now desolate (v.4), and weeps over it bitterly. Once she was great among the nations, but now she is like a widow. Once a princess, now a vassal (v.1). Once a peculiar people (Exodus.19:5), now dwelling among the heathen (v.3)!
The religious life of Israel turned out to be a tale told by the elderly! The city of Zion is in bitter anguish… no more festivals of God are observed… Her priests are groaning and the maidens are dragged away (v.4). Her children were taken captives (v.5), and that quenched even the hope for their future glory!
Who made “God’s chosen people” like this? Don’t accuse Satan… “The LORD has brought her grief because of the multitude of her sins”(v.5). Whoever be the instrument, God is the author of all these troubles. Look at the phrase: ‘the multitude of her sins!’ Are her troubles many? Her sins are many more! (Jer.30:14)
“Her filthiness clung to her skirts.” (v.9) This shows a sinful walk. If she was falling into dirt, then the filth should not have been seen not in her skirt, but elsewhere on the cloth. Now it is evident that her sinful walk was not an accident, but an intentional involvement.
Isn’t it the same with the modern church? Our enemies persuade us… the world has conquered us. “Her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer, the Satan” (v.6). No spiritual food in the church! We have music, but no new song from the Lord. We have dancing, but no leap of joy. Our priests are screaming without and groaning within. Maidens are dragged away into captivity of fashions and lusts of the world. Occasionally a prophet comes and exhorts us to leave our days of vanity, but we do not want to embrace reality because reality is painful. Why does the church continue to walk in sin without any repentance or retreat?
“Look, you put your trust in deceitful words… You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, ‘We are safe!’ Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? (Jeremiah 7:8-10)
The wicked Israel thought if they offer worship in the temple, all their evil would be covered and God would not look at it anymore. To them, the temple of God was a den – a hiding place! No! You cannot manipulate God with a worship meeting! You cannot dip your filth in worship!
This is the story of the present church. The wicked folks are singing, dancing, preaching, prophesying without fear and shouting big Halleluiahs for the “mercy” of God, just to continue in their impious ways! Ananias and Sapphira died on the spot when they lied to the Holy Spirit. However, these days, even grievous sinners are not dying suddenly. They even stretch hands to the Lord’s Supper! Does not God see this wickedness?
“I see everything you do” (Jeremiah 7:10), says the Lord! Who knows you are storing up God’s wrath (Romans 2:5) for an oven where all arrogant and all evil doers will be burnt like stubble! (Malachi. 4:1)
“She remembers not her last end” (v.9).
There is a “last end!” The times of God’s soft days are going to be over. The last end is coming, when God will deal with no mercy… Oh! We need someone like Jeremiah, to lament over the present day church… to scream at the church that sleeps when it is on the brim of doom?
“Her downfall was terrible” (v.9)
Yes, the end of a worldly church would be terrible. There would be nobody to comfort her. If the church continues walking in filth, if they do not change their ways, God says, “I will sharpen my sword!” (Psalms 7:12)
The “end” has another meaning, says Francis Schaeffer, in his famous book “death in the city.” End means purpose! True, Israel did not remember her final judgement… But she also forgot for what purpose God had put her in the world! God wants the church to be a consulate of heaven in the world! Consulate is a miniature of the country it represents. The consulate does everything the country wants done. It is through the church, that heaven does everything in the world! If the church is a consulate, when somebody comes to the church, he should see a small heaven in it. That is God’s purpose – end- for the church. Is your church, a miniature of heaven, or just another version of the world?
Do not forget the end… God is a righteous judge!
Do not forget the end… God wants you to be His ambassador and the church a consulate of heaven!
Prayer: Lord, I know for what purpose you have placed me in this world. I want to represent you in my dwelling. Help me to weep over the church that has gone astray! I pray that my church will be heaven’s consulate, and fulfil its mission in a perfect way. Amen!
Further readings: Jeremiah 8:3-11, Romans 2:1-11