This devotional is about Lamentations 1.
Imagine if you had lived in Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945 and survived the atomic bomb our country dropped on your city. Imagine the grief you would feel about the thousands of people–including many of your own family members and friends–who were now dead. Imagine wondering what to do next with so many injured people to treat, so many dead people to bury, and so much of the city destroyed.
Here in Lamentations 1, Jeremiah described what Jerusalem was like after the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed his hometown. The place that David established as Israel’s capitol and that Solomon built into a gleaming metropolis was now “deserted” (v. 1a-b). Jeremiah compared the city to the loneliness and grief of a widow (v. 1c). To him, the city was like a queen who had been enslaved (v. 1d-e). Of course there were tears (v. 2) and distress (v. 3); they are the only appropriate responses and emotions someone could have to such great devastation.
Jeremiah continued describing this massive loss all the way through the chapter. But in verse 8 he described why this happened when he wrote, “Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean.” He and other prophets had been preaching for years against the sins of Judah. Now that the consequences he warned about had become reality, Jeremiah did not gloat; he wept (v. 16). But he would not stop pointing out that Jerusalem’s destruction was a direct result of the sins of the people who lived there. In verse 14 he described these sins as “a yoke… hung on my [Jerusalem’s] neck.”
God’s law is full of promises. God promised to bless his people if they worshipped him alone and obeyed his word. But he also promised to bring judgment if Israel worshipped other gods and disobeyed God’s commands. Now God has made good on his promises by bringing defeat, death, and destruction to Jerusalem–not because he is cruel but because his people lived wicked lives for generations.
We like stories that have a happy ending, but this story contains nothing but sadness. Is there anything we can learn from Jerusalem’s demise? The end of the chapter spells that out, beginning in verse 18. Verse 18 says, “The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look on my suffering.” The lesson, then, is that sin brings suffering. If the collective sins of a nation brought disaster to God’s chosen people, nobody on this earth should expect a different outcome in our personal lives when we choose sin over obedience.
Do you think you can sin and get away with it? Do you tell yourself that nobody knows about your sin or that nobody cares about it? That is the delusion that believers and non-believers alike can have. We know that sin is destructive but we think it will destroy others. We deceive and delude ourselves into believing that the bomb of God’s justice will not land our lives.
Look around. Can you see how sin has destroyed family relationships, decimated marriages, stained reputations, and caused suffering and shame to the sinner? If you belong to Jesus Christ, your sins have been atoned for and forgiven. But the same grace that saved you from sin should open your eyes to see sin as God sees it–gross and destructive.
So look around you and see the consequences of sin. Then seek God’s forgiveness for your sins and turn away from practicing them anymore.