True prophets: Lamentations 1

november sky 3Jeremiah was called to be God’s prophet when he was young and inexperienced as a priest. But he was called to do an immense task which was humanly impossible for a young man. He prophesied to kings and powerful national leaders. He passed on the bad news that they would be captured and taken by the enemies to a foreign country and it would be safer for them to surrender, submit and go as told. He also prophesied that God would allow their return to Jerusalem after seventy years. Jeremiah was totally unpopular with this prophecy of his own nation’s defeat and and annihilation by an invading enemy. Other prophets gave good news and predictions of national success but he alone predicted defeat.

On the other hand, Jeremiah accurately prophesied everything that would happen, including the Good News.

Before we read Jeremiah, we read Lamentations to have a glimpse of what sort of person Jeremiah was. He was human. He had human emotions and thoughts too. And he identified with his countrymen. He was even a man who cried genuine tears, not for his own love (whom he was told by God not to marry), but for his country and people.

Key verses: Lamentations 3:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends![a]
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

Footnotes:

  1. 3:22 As in Syriac version; Hebrew reads of the Lord keeps us from destruction.

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Lamentations 1 New Living Translation (NLT)

Sorrow in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, once so full of people,
    is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
    now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
    she is now a slave.

She sobs through the night;
    tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers,
    there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her
    and become her enemies.

Judah has been led away into captivity,
    oppressed with cruel slavery.
She lives among foreign nations
    and has no place of rest.
Her enemies have chased her down,
    and she has nowhere to turn.

The roads to Jerusalem[a] are in mourning,
    for crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals.
The city gates are silent,
    her priests groan,
her young women are crying—
    how bitter is her fate!

Her oppressors have become her masters,
    and her enemies prosper,
for the Lord has punished Jerusalem
    for her many sins.
Her children have been captured
    and taken away to distant lands.

All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem[b]
    has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
    searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
    from the pursuing enemy.

In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
    Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.
But now she has fallen to her enemy,
    and there is no one to help her.
Her enemy struck her down
    and laughed as she fell.

Jerusalem has sinned greatly,
    so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag.
All who once honored her now despise her,
    for they have seen her stripped naked and humiliated.
All she can do is groan
    and hide her face.

She defiled herself with immorality
    and gave no thought to her future.
Now she lies in the gutter
    with no one to lift her out.
Lord, see my misery,” she cries.
    “The enemy has triumphed.”

10 The enemy has plundered her completely,
    taking every precious thing she owns.
She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple,
    the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.

11 Her people groan as they search for bread.
    They have sold their treasures for food to stay alive.
“O Lord, look,” she mourns,
    “and see how I am despised.

12 “Does it mean nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    Look around and see if there is any suffering like mine,
which the Lord brought on me
    when he erupted in fierce anger.

13 “He has sent fire from heaven that burns in my bones.
    He has placed a trap in my path and turned me back.
He has left me devastated,
    racked with sickness all day long.

14 “He wove my sins into ropes
    to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.
The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies;
    I am helpless in their hands.

15 “The Lord has treated my mighty men
    with contempt.
At his command a great army has come
    to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trampled his beloved city[c]
    like grapes are trampled in a winepress.

16 “For all these things I weep;
    tears flow down my cheeks.
No one is here to comfort me;
    any who might encourage me are far away.
My children have no future,
    for the enemy has conquered us.”

17 Jerusalem reaches out for help,
    but no one comforts her.
Regarding his people Israel,[d]
    the Lord has said,
“Let their neighbors be their enemies!
    Let them be thrown away like a filthy rag!”

18 “The Lord is right,” Jerusalem says,
    “for I rebelled against him.
Listen, people everywhere;
    look upon my anguish and despair,
for my sons and daughters
    have been taken captive to distant lands.

19 “I begged my allies for help,
    but they betrayed me.
My priests and leaders
    starved to death in the city,
even as they searched for food
    to save their lives.

20 Lord, see my anguish!
    My heart is broken
and my soul despairs,
    for I have rebelled against you.
In the streets the sword kills,
    and at home there is only death.

21 “Others heard my groans,
    but no one turned to comfort me.
When my enemies heard about my troubles,
    they were happy to see what you had done.
Oh, bring the day you promised,
    when they will suffer as I have suffered.

22 “Look at all their evil deeds, Lord.
    Punish them,
as you have punished me
    for all my sins.
My groans are many,
    and I am sick at heart.”

Footnotes:

  1. 1:4 Hebrew Zion; also in 1:17.
  2. 1:6 Hebrew of the daughter of Zion.
  3. 1:15 Hebrew the virgin daughter of Judah.
  4. 1:17 Hebrew Jacob. The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are often interchanged throughout the Old Testament, referring sometimes to the individual patriarch and sometimes to the nation.
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