Today’s read took us to the first two chapters of Lamentations. This poem is attributed to Jeremiah, although no author is referenced. The first chapter describes Jerusalem’s misery, but the second chapter is what struck me the most today, as it leaves no doubt the source of that misery. Whenever we read the Bible, our first question should be, “What does this teach me about God?” First and foremost, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, and the picture we have in Lamentations 2 is not one we like to consider.
Jeremiah describes what God has done to His beloved city and chosen people because of their sin. He has “covered them with a cloud of His anger,” burned like a “flaming fire that consumes everything around it,” and “poured out His wrath like fire.” He has destroyed, laid waste, rejected, abandoned, determined to tear down, cut off, withdrawn, and slain. These are not descriptive terms we like to attribute to the God who loves us so much He would send His own Son to sacrifice His life for us. It’s difficult to reconcile the anger of God against sin with His love for us, but isn’t that what the cross does? God’s wrath poured out against sin…only not on the one who sinned, but on the perfect, holy substitute?
God has never hidden how He feels about sin. In Genesis 2:17 He warned Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Sin brings death, which is the judgment of God. What makes it hard to reconcile in our minds is God’s great patience in withholding that judgment and death to give time for repentance. His grace and mercy cause us to forget the fact that sinful people will have a day of accounting. We can stand under the accounting of the cross, or we can stand and give account for ourselves.
Lamentations 1:15 says, “The Lord has rejected all my strong men in my midst; He has called an appointed time against me to crush my young men; The Lord has trodden as in a winepress the virgin daughter of Judah.” Judah’s appointed time of accounting for their sin had arrived, and the results were devastating. The description of God treading the winepress leads us to Revelation, where John foretells another judgment coming. This one will be far more devastating, as it won’t just be one sinful nation, but the nations of the entire world.
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.” (Revelation 14:14-20)
We don’t know when this judgment will happen. But God keeps His word. Just as Jeremiah faithfully warned his people for years, God’s Word has been warning us for centuries. What you do with that warning is up to you.