Today’s Reading: Lamentations 1-2
Today’s Reflection: Lamentations 2:6-7
6) He has laid waste his booth like a garden, laid in ruins his meeting place; the Lord has made Zion forget festival and Sabbath, and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest. 7) The Lord has scorned his altar, disowned his sanctuary; he has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they raised a clamor in the house of the Lord as on the day of festival.
The book of Lamentations is Jeremiah’s mournful recounting of the Lord’s judgment against the nation of Judah. As a prophet of God, Jeremiah tried to warn the people of Judah, including the King and the priests in Jerusalem, that their sins were going to lead to their destruction. Instead of listening to Jeremiah’s words and considering his council, Judah ignored him, insulted him, humiliated him, punished him, imprisoned him and made him an outcast.
Judah thought they could keep the rituals, sacrifices, Sabbaths and feasts God ordained and earn his protection—just as the pagans thought appeasing their idols with human sacrifices and orgies would bring them security and prosperity. Just like the pagans, Judah was wrong. The feasts and ceremonies were only symbols of what was supposed to be a daily reality among the people: lives lived in obedience to God not only in ritual, but in morality and in respecting and caring for all people (Isaiah 1:16-19). God desired heart-changed people who sought after Him and His way in every aspect of their being (Ezekiel 11:19-20; Psalms 51:17). Instead the people of Judah gained wealth for themselves by cheating others, indulged their lusts and desires, even partook of pagan and idol-worshiping rituals, while ignoring the needs of the poor, widowed and orphaned.
In today’s text, Jeremiah hauntingly says the sound of the enemy’s destruction of God’s temple was matched only by the sound of revelry that used to be heard there on the feast days, an ironic and terrifying contrast when we consider the modern day implications. For how often do we praise God at church or at the occasional religious event or celebration, then ignore God’s laws and instructions the rest of the time, living life our own way and guided by our own desires and lusts? As Lamentations shows us, we may live comfortably this way for some time, but this attitude will ultimately lead us to certain destruction.
Ezekiel 11:17-21 – 17) Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19) And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20) that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21) But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
Galatians 6:7-8 –7) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.