“How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations!”(Lamentations 1:1) Thus begins the heart wrenching lament of the prophet Jeremiah. Jerusalem had been sacked and the people led off into a captivity which would last seventy years. They richly deserved their punishment but Jeremiah is only grieved for them and for the beloved city.
He had warned them over and over and they had not listened. Instead they ridiculed and persecuted him for telling them what they did not want to hear. They wanted to go their own way – not God’s way. By all rights, Jeremiah should have been gloating or hurling “I told you so” at them.
Jeremiah shared the heart of God when he prophesied. He did not take joy in seeing his accurate prophecies come to pass. He would much rather the people repented and turned back to the Lord and avoid the dire consequences. That’s just how God feels about us when we rebel. Jeremiah 3:33 says; “For He does not afflict willingly, or grieve the sons of men.”
Watch for the spirit of Jeremiah when you listen to the preachers and prophets of today expound on the wicked condition of our country. Do they seem smug and glad for judgment to come so people will get what they deserve? Or, like Jeremiah, do they plead for mercy at the throne of grace?
In case you feel sometimes tempted to side with the hardliners over those other evil doers, ask yourself this: for your sin, who would you rather be at bat for you?