Read Lamentations 2
2 How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion
with the cloud of his anger!
He has hurled down the splendor of Israel
from heaven to earth;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.
2 Without pity the Lord has swallowed up
all the dwellings of Jacob;
in his wrath he has torn down
the strongholds of Daughter Judah.
He has brought her kingdom and its princes
down to the ground in dishonor.
3 In fierce anger he has cut off
every horn of Israel.
He has withdrawn his right hand
at the approach of the enemy.
He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire
that consumes everything around it.
4 Like an enemy he has strung his bow;
his right hand is ready.
Like a foe he has slain
all who were pleasing to the eye;
he has poured out his wrath like fire
on the tent of Daughter Zion.
5 The Lord is like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces
and destroyed her strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
for Daughter Judah.
6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden;
he has destroyed his place of meeting.
The Lord has made Zion forget
her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths;
in his fierce anger he has spurned
both king and priest.
7 The Lord has rejected his altar
and abandoned his sanctuary.
He has given the walls of her palaces
into the hands of the enemy;
they have raised a shout in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed festival.
8 The Lord determined to tear down
the wall around Daughter Zion.
He stretched out a measuring line
and did not withhold his hand from destroying.
He made ramparts and walls lament;
together they wasted away.
9 Her gates have sunk into the ground;
their bars he has broken and destroyed.
Her king and her princes are exiled among the nations,
the law is no more,
and her prophets no longer find
visions from the Lord.
10 The elders of Daughter Zion
sit on the ground in silence;
they have sprinkled dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.
11 My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.
12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their lives ebb away
in their mothers’ arms.
13 What can I say for you?
With what can I compare you,
To what can I liken you,
that I may comfort you,
Virgin Daughter Zion?
Your wound is as deep as the sea.
Who can heal you?
14 The visions of your prophets
were false and worthless;
they did not expose your sin
to ward off your captivity.
The prophecies they gave you
were false and misleading.
15 All who pass your way
clap their hands at you;
they scoff and shake their heads
at Daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth?”
16 All your enemies open their mouths
wide against you;
they scoff and gnash their teeth
and say, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for;
we have lived to see it.”
17 The Lord has done what he planned;
he has fulfilled his word,
which he decreed long ago.
He has overthrown you without pity,
he has let the enemy gloat over you,
he has exalted the horn of your foes.
18 The hearts of the people
cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
let your tears flow like a river
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.
19 Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at every street corner.
20 “Look, Lord, and consider:
Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
in the sanctuary of the Lord?
21 “Young and old lie together
in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
you have slaughtered them without pity.
22 “As you summon to a feast day,
so you summoned against me terrors on every side.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
no one escaped or survived;
those I cared for and reared
my enemy has destroyed.”
The text here is a continuation of Jeremiah’s expression of raw emotion. It is full of Jeremiah expressing the anger of God that is being expressed towards the city of Jerusalem. God has prepared His bow like an enemy. It doesn’t feel good to be on the other side of God’s anger, particularly when it is because of our unrepentant sin. God’s wrath is powerful and strong, but how do we grapple with this? How can we believe that our God, the King of Kings, is also recognized as a God of Anger in this passage?
This isn’t a matter of Old Testament God being angry and New Testament Jesus making it better—He is the same God. In seeing multiple sides of God, we are able to see the fullness of God. He is not partial in anything. Knowing of God’s anger over Jerusalem makes the fact that He empathizes with our pain so much greater. When we hurt and we say to others, “He hurts with us,” it feels a lot deeper. While in this passage we learn about God’s wrath for Jerusalem, we also learn His heart hurts deeply when we sin and turn from Him. He wants us near Him.
On the other hand, we can empathize with Jeremiah as he expresses his lack of knowledge in comforting the people. Jeremiah talks about how Jerusalem is without comfort, and he mentions how he doesn’t know how to comfort them. There are so many times where comforting someone else is hard because we don’t understand what this person is going through. In these moments, we can listen rather than understand. By the end of the chapter, Israel gets to respond. Jeremiah has to be willing to listen, just as we have to listen to others in their pain.
- How do you feel comforted by God?
- What is an attribute of God that you love that comes in fullness? What about an attribute that is hard for you to understand that comes in fullness?
- Is there a friend or family member that you can call or text and remind them that you are there to listen to their hurt? Pray for them, then call them.
Did You Know?
In the beginning of the chapter, God “covers” the people like a cloud. It is interesting that God shows up in a manner of what the Israelites know, but with a different attribute. In the wandering of the Israelites, God would lead by cloud and now He is covering by cloud. God is showing different sides of Himself, yet is consistent in His state, so the Israelites can know it is Him.
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