Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lamentations II

Lamentations is a book of lament, of dirge in the face of national catastrophe. Yet it is also subtly a book of encouragement that when the world seems like it has ended, it hasn't quite.

For Jews, the centre of national life was the temple, the social, political, economic and religious centre. When it was destroyed by the Babylonians, things seemed like God had abandoned them altogether. It appears as if God is some harsh and petulant judge.

Chapter 2 and verse 14 makes it clear that God is a God who wants to restore his people to relationship - the spin doctors who were the prophets of the time told them what they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear (nothing has changed). Judgement was because of covenant unfaithfulness, as they were warned long ago (v17).

So, what is the point of the call to lament? Verse 19 calls for them to pour out their hearts before the presence of the Lord. But hang on, wasn't the temple where the people came before the presence of the Lord? Hadn't it been destroyed? Does this mean even when it seems that God is absent, those who lament in their hearts can still be in God's presence?

On the cross, Jesus laments "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" It seems that whenever God seems far away, he is only a tear away.

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