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by Ron Rose

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    Even during the reform of Josiah’s reign, the people remained self-deceived and calloused. They refused to heed Jeremiah’s words of warning. After all, they had recent memories of the greatest Passover feast in generations. Surely God would never allow his city and his temple to be destroyed. When King Josiah died, the people mourned deeply, but the revival died with him. And the judgment predicted by Jeremiah loomed on the horizon.

LORD, remember my suffering and my misery, my sorrow and trouble. Please remember me and think about me.
But I have hope when I think of this: The LORD’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; LORD, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The LORD is mine, so I hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek him. It is good to wait quietly for the LORD to save....
The Lord will not reject his people forever. Although he brings sorrow, he also has mercy and great love. He does not like to punish people or make them sad.

LAMENTATIONS 3:19-33
    Another prophet at this time, Habakkuk, was filled with questions about the conditions he saw in Judah. How could a holy God continue to allow such wickedness in the land? Had God turned his back on his children? In response to Habakkuk’s questions, God revealed his plan to use Babylon as his arm of punishment. Instead of that settling the issue, Habakkuk then wondered aloud how a holy God could use such an unholy nation for his purposes. After all, as unfaithful as God’s people had been, surely they were better by far than the Babylonians. God assured Habakkuk that Babylon would also be punished, but what he required of his people was to trust God, no matter what the circumstances.

    Stubborn King Zedekiah was ruling the southern kingdom when God permitted Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to capture and finally destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, and the city walls. Because the people had been unfaithful and disloyal for so long, God allowed his city to be completely devastated and his people to be exiled to Babylon. For the Israelites, the unthinkable had happened. The articles within the temple were confiscated and carried off to Babylon, and the temple and Jerusalem, the glorious city of David, were burned to the ground. The southern kingdom was gone.

    Jeremiah, God’s prophet of doom, lived through the destruction he had foretold. While the best and brightest people were hustled off to Babylon, he chose to stay in Judah with the poor people whom Nebuchadnezzar left behind.

Reflection: Our merciful God sees the long view. Unfaithful Israel had to be punished. But when they turned back to him, God would restore them in preparation for the coming Messiah who would introduce a new kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, that would expand out of Jerusalem and cover the earth.

    God does some of his greatest work in the midst of his discipline. He doesn’t ask us to understand it; he simply calls us to be faithful and trust his lead — and to wait quietly for his salvation.

 
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      Text copyright © 1997, Multnomah Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

      Title: ""
      Author: Ron Rose
      Publication Date: August 6, 2002


 
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