An Example (Lamentations 1:18)

“The LORD is righteous;
For I have rebelled against His command;
Hear now, all peoples,
And behold my pain;
My virgins and my young men
Have gone into captivity.”

Lamentations 1:18

Lamentations is something of a companion piece to the book of Jeremiah. While the one focused on the prophecies handed down to Jeremiah against various kingdoms and people, the book of Lamentations is, quite simply, a series of laments over the results of those prophecies.

This morning’s verse was written as if spoken by Jerusalem after judgment had been executed on the city. There are some principles that appear in this verse that apply both to my nation and to me as an individual believer.

First, the truth. The LORD is righteous; For I have rebelled against His command. No one likes to face this particular truth, but it is one that must be faced. The United States, a nation that once espoused Christian ideals, has turned its back on those ideals and now chases the ghosts of relativistic truth. Likewise, I may, as an individual, rebel against God’s command. Nations are made up of large quantities of individuals and The Bible is rather clear that God is abundantly willing to withhold judgment for the sake of the righteous mixed in with the unrighteous. See Genesis 18:22-33. The bedrock truth of judgment is this: judgment and discipline are the result of rebellion.

Second, what I should be doing. Hear now, all peoples, And behold my pain. I should be learning from others’ example. If someone is obedient and blessing follows, that should indicate to me that obedience is rewarded and I should make note and behave accordingly. Conversely, if someone is disobedient and judgment or discipline follows, then  should take note and be warned against disobedience. There is a “demotivator” out there that warns that the purpose of a life may only be to serve as a warning to others. Both the individual and the nation need to learn from the examples of others.

Last, what things look like from the vantage point of being disciplined. Jerusalem says that her young men and virgins have gone into captivity. I will theorize that the phrase is a metaphor for one’s future and hope being taken away. Mind you, the notion that the future and hope of Jerusalem had been stripped away flies in the face of the promises made to the people by God (Jeremiah 29:11-12). Perception is not reality — unlike housing prices in Southern California. There is a rebellion that results in having no future and no hope, viz. rebellion against God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. But every other rebellion is forgivable, as far as I can see in The Bible. In the short term, discipline and judgment leave me with the idea that my future and my hope have been taken away. For confirmation of this, I need only think back on how I perceived the discipline my parents handed down for my disobedience as a younger man. But that perception is false. Jerusalem would eventually be restored. So, too, will I be restored when the time of discipline is completed.

I will not presume to dictate to my compatriots what we should do as a nation. As a believer, I am convinced that we need repentance and a return to the truth of God. I also know that not all of my countrymen (and women) believe as I do. For my believing compatriots, let us pray that our nation would be convicted of its transgression and turn back to the God it has spurned. For myself, I need to remember that God is righteous and only disciplines when I have rebelled. I need to learn from the examples of others — both to do the good examples and to turn away from the bad. And I need to remember that discipline ends in restoration. God may chasten me for a time, but He does so in order to make me more like Himself.

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