“How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud.” His chosen people were once guided through the wilderness by the glory cloud of God’s presence. Now at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, God had “cast down” from heaven to earth their previous splendor. He was displeased with His beloved children.
“In His wrath” the Almighty had brought about their defeat. He did so “without mercy.” How could that be? How could the precious people of Jehovah be “cut down in fierce anger?” Why would the Lord treat the people of Judah “like an enemy?”
Before rushing to the obvious answer to these troubling questions, the prophet exposed the amazing truth of God’s own lamentation in this time of great loss. The people of Judah belonged to the Lord. The Promised Land was His “garden” that was now plowed under by the gravity of divine discipline. The temple that until recently had such a prominent place on Zion’s hill was important to Him. He had filled the sanctuary with His own glorious presence. Yes, they were grieving at these sad events, but so was God.
The writer of Lamentations cried out, “My eyes are spent with weeping.” His sadness should be viewed as an expression of the Lord’s own heart. Why would the great God of the Jews be sad? “Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.”
What went wrong with Old Testament covenant community? The fault was not the Lord’s, but the faithlessness of elders, prophets, and the people at large. “The Lord has done what He has purposed; He has carried out His Word, which He commanded long ago.” A careful reading of the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 will prove this point.
But what could be done in response to these devastating events? God’s suffering ones could only cry out to Him for help. “Look, O Lord, and see!” It would do Judah no good to deny the wrath of the Almighty. This should be a warning to the church in our day if we should turn away from the Lord who saved us with His atoning blood. How bad could it get? Read Lamentations and see the answer. Is there any hope for a community of worshipers under the severe discipline of the Lord? Yes, for we are God’s people. As we will read in the following chapter. “His mercies will never come to an end,” even when our worst fears have become our present reality.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious Father, have You utterly forgotten us? In Your just wrath, You send Your devastating judgments. What must the cross have been like for Your Son? He faced the fullness of Your punishment. He was the spotless Temple of Your presence. He had no sin. Yet He took all our filth and rebellion upon Himself on that awful day of atoning death. Your wrath came upon Him for us. Lord, we are in horrible trouble now. We are in need of basic things so that we can stay alive here and now. Feed us from heaven. Though false prophets may have been removed from our midst, our enemies are still all around us. They think that they have complete victory over us. What can we say to You? Our cries are too deep for words. We are in distress. We have had trials beyond anything we ever expected. There is terror on every side.