Judge Horace Gray of Boston, who would later go on to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court, once said to a man who escaped conviction on a technicality: “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law.”
Man’s justice is always subject to errors, but God’s justice is perfect. No sin escapes His gaze, and though punishment is sometimes delayed as God grants room to repent, it is certain. No one escapes God’s justice on a technicality.
Israel ran face first into this reality. It must have crossed their mind that they had escaped God’s judgment. But they did not know judgment was just delayed. God would use a foreign nation to execute his judgment.
Jerusalem Has Fallen! Not the headline on the front page of the New York Times image today. It was 587 B.C. After a long siege, and a valiant effort and almost superhuman resolve, Jerusalem is destroyed. King Nebuchadnezzar lays waste to a once glorious city. It was not just any city that has fallen. It was the city of David. The temple was destroyed, the place where the Ancient of Days took up residence. The Chosen people of the Most High God have scattered. Many of the key leaders including the king are taken into captivity. This series is based on a little-known book, Lamentations. It is not one that is read in church often. It seems too dark and grim to highlight in the church. We come to church to be encouraged, not depressed. No one wants to come and be reminded of those awful times.
Lamentations was written to reflect what happened to the children of Israel. It is tied closely to the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, who warned the people of impending judgment. His cries were ignored. “Not us,” the people said, “…we are God’s chosen ones.” Think of Lamentations as a historical account after a crushing defeat. It is a continuation of the groundwork laid out by Jeremiah. It is a stark reminder to all of us of the consequences of our sins when there is a lack of true repentance.
Repentance is much more than saying, “I am sorry.” Repentance means not just to be sorry but to change the path and direction of your life. Sorry is easy, change, of course, is where the difficulty comes into place.
This Lenten series is written for churches looking for a fresh approach to help people walk from Ash Wednesday to the empty tomb celebration of Easter. This series is designed to take disciples on a reflective journey during the 40-days of Lent with a time to stop and observe what effects sin has on the fabric of our lives and the world around us. The series begins with the topic for Ash Wednesday of “A Lament for Unfaithfulness” So sit back and join me on this Lenten Journey. Every Thursday a new sermon prompt will appear in this series. Next week: Lam 1:14 A Lament for Unfaithfulness.