Wong Fong Yang
God's fierce anger
Why isn't lamentations usually a part of our prayers? Why don't we do this in corporate worship?
God desires that we lay bare our hearts to him. "Pour out your heart like water to the Lord." Lord how am I feeling today as I am here?
God has become like an enemy to Israel.
1. God's fierce anger against Zion
2. Jeremiah responds to the destruction
3. A protest to God in prayer
Jeremiah describes God's anger
The anger of God is described as consuming fire. Why would God be so angry?
Judah committed three prominent sins:
- Worship of Baal shrines everywhere
- Social injustice is rampant
- unbelief and refusal to trust God and obey
Jeremiah laments ten things that God has done eg abandoned temple, broke down walls etc.
I do wonder what Christians would say if I lamented this way...
You have brought the virus upon us. You have slain thousands and afflicted millions with the disease. You have caused people to lose jobs. You have caused political leaders to act selfishly. You have created lawlessness as people act like kings. And your church has no impact and bearing in this world. You have no longer given vision to church leaders. You have swallowed up your people.
What am I learning as I lament this way? I hear a strong voice - from other people - saying I should not lament this way. God is not like that. But praying this way helps me to empathise with the pain of the people. For the first time I feel I can step into Jeremiah's anguish, and his probable rejection by people who hear his lamentations.
Jeremiah speaks to Zion of her pain
Jeremiah grieves. There are layers upon layers of pain.
1. It starts with pain where words cannot describe.
There are times we can do nothing to alleviate people's pain. It is better to keep silence.
2. A pain of being laughed at by people's words.
This is like rubbing salt into wounds.
"All who pass by jeer at you. They scoff and insult beautiful Jerusalem, saying, “Is this the city called ‘Most Beautiful in All the World’ and ‘Joy of All the Earth’?”
Lamentations 2:15 NLT
3. The dread of realising that this is God's plan
But it is the Lord who did just as he planned. He has fulfilled the promises of disaster he made long ago. He has destroyed Jerusalem without mercy. He has caused her enemies to gloat over her and has given them power over her.
Lamentations 2:17 NLT
I find the three layers of grief truly eye opening. The first level is unspeakable. The second is unbelievable. The third level is... unthinkable.
Can you actually practice lament?
Pastor Wong shares about Constance. How beautiful and energetic and creative she used to be! He could only sit in the car and weep.
What moves us to cry out to you?
Whose sins and brokenness grieve me?
Jeremiah laments in protest to God
Isn't God's action excessive?
How can you do such things to your people?
Notice the power and blow of Jeremiah's words below:
“O Lord , think about this! Should you treat your own people this way? Should mothers eat their own children, those they once bounced on their knees? Should priests and prophets be killed within the Lord’s Temple?
“See them lying in the streets— young and old, boys and girls, killed by the swords of the enemy.
You have killed them in your anger, slaughtering them without mercy. You have invited terrors from all around, as though you were calling them to a day of feasting. In the day of the Lord ’s anger, no one has escaped or survived. The enemy has killed all the children whom I carried and raised.”
Lamentations 2:20-22 NLT
No one was spared.
If this was bad enough, consider the righteous anger of God in the final judgment and hell.
For consideration as we lament....
1. What is our purpose as the people of God? We are meant to be a blessing, not pursuing false gods.
2. Does it pain God to destroy a chosen people, temple and city of blessing? Of course. But if we fail to live our purpose, we will be rejected.
3. God has fierce anger toward sin. Not vindictive. But this anger is real and can consume us (when we are idolatrous, trust only in self and lose compassion for needy)
4. God's wrath is not the final word. Anger goes to several generations. But that wrath can be averted by repentance and obedience. The cross of Christ shows the cost of love that pays the price of sin. And so we stand behind Christ.
It is in lamenting that we come to know God and know who we are.