(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations is rightly named, because it is his lament over the destruction of the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, the ruin of the holy city itself (the capital of the Judean kingdom)! But the devastation was not confined to just Jerusalem. The entire kingdom felt the oppressive boots of the Babylonian army!
Lamentations contains 154 verses. Almost 96 percent of the verses describe what Jeremiah witnessed, and his horror over it. But the remaining four percent (six verses) stands out as light in the midst of darkness!
Here, again, is our featured Scripture, six verses from Lamentations 3:21 through 26:
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [It is of] the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compas- sions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, there- fore I hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
We need to be aware of an important fact: Due to the devastation of the Babylonian invasion and conquest that tore the Judean society apart, the Jews experienced tremendous upheaval, death, and suffering! And Jeremiah was in the midst of it! But ever since he was called to be the LORD’s prophet years before, called to preach against the unbelief and idolatry of those Judeans around him, Jeremiah experienced a great deal of hostility and opposition to the message of God he was delivering! Both before and after he wrote these six verses quoted above, the prophet did not have many blessings in his life to recount!
- Jeremiah 1:6 – When the LORD called him, he argued with God that he was unfit to be a prophet: “Ah, LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am but a youth.” He was probably no more than twenty-two at the time.
- Jeremiah 1:8 – God told him that those to whom he prophesied would not hear him! Many would turn against him!
- Jeremiah 11:21 – “…the men of Anathoth [Jeremiah’s hometown]…seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand.”
- Jeremiah 16:2 – “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” Most likely because they would have been affected also by Jeremiah’s continual rejection, and then subjected to terrible suffering in the soon-coming invasion.
- Jeremiah 16:6 – “…even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you….” Jeremiah’s own family was rejecting him!
- Jeremiah 20:1, 2 – “…Pashur…the priest…[and] chief governor in the house of the LORD…struck Jeremiah…and put him in the stocks…” …for preaching the truth!
- Jeremiah 26:8 – “…when Jeremiah [spoke]…all that the LORD had commanded him…the priests…the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, ‘You will surely die!’”
- Jeremiah 26:1-17 – Hananiah, a false prophet mocked Jeremiah, and accused him of lying! Hananiah was saying the Babylonian captivity would only last two years! Jeremiah prophesied that, as a result of his false claims, Hananiah would die that same year – and he did!
- Jeremiah 36:23, 26 – Jehoiakim, king of Judah, would not heed the Jeremiah’s warnings, but burned the prophet’s scroll of prophecies bit by bit, as it was read to him, and then threatened the prophet and his amanuensis Baruch! Jeremiah then wrote another rendition of his prophecies and experiences. “And besides, there were added to [the account]…many similar words.” (Jeremiah 36:32).
- Jeremiah 37:15 – Wrongly accused of trying to defect to the Babylonians, the prophet was arrested. And “…the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him, and put him in prison….”
- Jeremiah 38:6 – Jeremiah had prophesied the Babylonians would prevail against Jerusalem. All who stayed in the city would perish, but all who surrendered to the invading army would live. He was then accused of being a traitor! “So they took Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon [a deep cistern no longer in service),…the dungeon of…the king’s son….and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.” Surely it would soon be the end of the prophet’s earthly life! But he was graciously rescued by Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian (see Jeremiah 38:7-13).
- Jeremiah 40:1 – Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians! King Zedikiah fled, but he was captured. He was then forced to watch his sons butchered. After that scene was forever burned into his mind, he was blinded, then shackled and taken to Babylon in chains. Jeremiah, with other Judean prisoners, was also put in chains! For we are told, “…Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard…let… Jeremiah…go from Ramah [five miles from Jerusalem], when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah…to Babylon.”
- Jeremiah 40:5, 6 – After his release, “…Jeremiah went to Gedaliah [appointed governor over Judah by Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar]…to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land.”
- Jeremiah 41:1 and 2 – Just three months later, as the governor ate a meal together with some guests, “…Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and ten men…struck Gedaliah…and killed him.” Ishmael then murdered those who sided with Gedaliah, and also killed the Babylonian soldiers who were stationed there, plus murdering many others.
- Jeremiah 41:10-15 – “Then Ishmael carried away captive all the…people who were in Mizpah [including Jeremiah]…and departed to go…to the Ammonites. But…Johanan… and all the captains of the forces…went to fight…Ishmael….” And they won, and released the captives!
- Jeremiah 42:9 and 10 – Johanan and his soldiers were afraid of what the Babylonians would do after the murder of the governor Gedaliah and those loyal to him, killing also Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers. So they decided to go to Egypt! Jeremiah spoke God’s message to them: Don’t go to Egypt! “Thus says the LORD…’If you…abide in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up.’” But they wouldn’t believe that Jeremiah was actually delivering God’s word! They again considered him a traitor, this time in pay of the Ammonites.
- Jeremiah 43:4, 7 – “…Johanan…all the captains of the forces, and all the people would not obey…the LORD….So they went to the land of Egypt.” And they forced Jeremiah to go with them!
- Jeremiah 43:10, 11 – Jeremiah prophesied to them in Egypt: “Thus says the LORD… ‘Behold, I will…bring Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon…and…he shall strike the land…and deliver [you]…to death…to captivity…to the sword….”
- While there is no biblical record of Jeremiah’s death, tradition has it that he died in Egypt about 570 BC, stoned to death by the Jewish remnant who tired of his prophecies against them!
But in the midst of all this, Jeremiah, because of God’s promises, could boldly say, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21).
Do you have that confidence in God? Are you familiar enough with your Bible that you can recall His promises of His presence, His power, His provision, His protection, His plans for you…and so much more? Maybe I will write a series on the alliteration of The P’s of God’s Promises.
No matter what you are experiencing, remember what is written in Romans 8:38 and 39:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.