I’ve been reading Lamentations…more than reading…experiencing to some degree, perhaps visualizing is a better word. This is an intercessory book written by an intercessor, inspired by Another Intercessor. As Jeremiah bears the sin of his people, so the Root of David bears the sin of His people and the Lamb of God bears the sin of all people. The judgment is horrific, sure to offend our sensibilities…well…maybe not anymore.
I am struck by 2:14: "Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity.” (NASB). It is the mercy of God that exposes our iniquity so that we are (hopefully) driven to seek Him. Faithful prophets, pastors, teachers, brothers and sisters expose iniquity so that we will have the possibility of restoration from our captivity of sin and rebellion. Judah and Jerusalem did not appreciate faithful messengers, they were not welcome – how do we respond when our iniquity is revealed through the faithful preaching of the Word of God?
Jerusalem and Judah followed prophets who saw false and foolish visions; false and foolish teachings; false and foolish assurances of peace; false and foolish promises that everything would be fine. The result was the horrific judgment of God executed by people who showed no mercy.
While it is true, and seldom understood, that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and that we called to an amazing liberty in Jesus Christ as we repent and follow Him; this does not mean, as Paul reminds us, that we can use our liberty as an occasion for carnal and sinful living – that is not the liberty that Christ calls us to – He calls us to the liberty of obedience to His Cross, a liberty of laying our lives down for Him and others – a liberty of surrender to Him.
As a friend reminded me, the prosperity gospel has many forms, including the idea that God is interested in providing us with personal peace and affluence, and material and economic security. Perhaps the sin of the popular prosperity gospel preachers is that they flaunt in public what the rest of us only think about in our hearts; they don’t have the good sense not to be ostentatious, no one taught them to be religiously proper. They seem to be enjoying themselves. Many of us seem to be enjoying ourselves. The people of Judah and Jerusalem were enjoying themselves to the point that they could not conceive that God would hold them accountable for their sin – their prophets saw false and foolish visions for them.
Lamentations is a Biblical book the church would do well to include in its intercessory prayer for the world; will we bear the sin of the world in intercession?