19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
In the original Hebrew text, the first four chapters of Jeremiah’s Lamentations are acrostic poems, and the first letter of each poem is arranged in the order of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. There are sixty-six verses in this chapter, which is a three-level acrostic poem: the first three sentences of the poem start with the first letter of Hebrew alphabet, then the next three sentences start with the second letter, and so on. Examples of other acrostic poems are Psalm 37, 119, 145, etc. In his distress and sorrow, Jeremiah still saw a glimmer of hope: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” (v22) When Jeremiah was in the darkest moment, he has hope because of this promise: God has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful. Jeremiah experienced God’s judgment and God’s love at the same time. At the time of judgment, Jeremiah still recognized God’s mercy, just as he would be wary of God’s judgment when things went well. God’s faithfulness has never changed. Today, as long as we look to God, God will also respond to us. God’s love and faithfulness can overcome any sin, sorrow and contrite spirit, and God will not despise it. As long as we sincerely repent, God will definitely forgive us.
Come to God with a contrite heart, and ask God to illuminate the darkness and filth in your heart, so that you can see the hidden sins in your life that have been unwilling to confess for a long time; humble and confess your sins before God and ask for His forgiveness, and ask for God’s love and mercy to fill your life so that you can be comforted by Him.
11 My eyes are spent with weeping;
my stomach churns;
my bile is poured out to the ground
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because infants and babies faint
in the streets of the city.
12 They cry to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like a wounded man
in the streets of the city,
as their life is poured out
on their mothers’ bosom.
13 What can I say for you, to what compare you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For your ruin is vast as the sea;
who can heal you?
14 Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading.
15 All who pass along the way
clap their hands at you;
they hiss and wag their heads
at the daughter of Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of all the earth?”
16 All your enemies
rail against you;
they hiss, they gnash their teeth,
they cry: “We have swallowed her!
Ah, this is the day we longed for;
now we have it; we see it!”
17 The Lord has done what he purposed;
he has carried out his word,
which he commanded long ago;
he has thrown down without pity;
he has made the enemy rejoice over you
and exalted the might of your foes.
18 Their heart cried to the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
let tears stream down like a torrent
day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
your eyes no respite!
19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.”
Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet” because he often wept and shed tears for the disobedience of the people of Judah throughout his life. Jeremiah’s tears were not an expression of weakness, but an expression of sincerity and compassion. In Jeremiah’s time, false prophets were everywhere, and they often announced false prophecies. When Jeremiah warned of the demise of Judah and the imminent exile of the people for a long time, the false prophets said that everything is safe and there is no need to be afraid. In fact, Jeremiah was the prophet sent by God, and his prophecy was true. He called on the people to forsake their sins and sincerely repent for what they did against the Lord. Wayward people betray God because of their stubbornness, and everyone suffers. Are these disasters God’s fault? No, this is the consequences of the people’s evil deeds, and they will also involve innocent people. Even children will be “faint for hunger” and their lives are worrying. We should take warning from Jeremiah’s appeal and understand that the consequences of sin are extremely serious! Today, in the face of serious social moral degradation and extreme individualism, how will we react? We should wake up from a state of insensitivity, not be shaken by all kinds of lies, firmly defend the truth of God, sincerely pray for our church with tears, so that the church will not be destroyed by the world, and the church will be a witness for God in the society.
Pray for God to give you a strong, benevolent, and conscientious heart, so that you can stand firm in the face of the world’s various moral declines and liberal values; pray for God to give you more strength and make you willing to offer yourself as a living sacrifice, bravely live out holiness in the turbid current of the world, and bear a beautiful testimony to God.
When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and deported much of its population, some residents were left behind in terrible conditions in and around the shattered city. To express their deep shame and grief over the destruction of their home, they wrote songs about its desolation and about the sufferings they were witnessing and experiencing. The book of Lamentations does not tell us who wrote these songs, although tradition ascribes them to Jeremiah. Here we witness people of faith putting into words their struggle to understand how God could have allowed the city they loved to be so devastated.
Each of the five songs preserved in the book has 22 stanzas. The first four songs begin with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order. In the third song the letters are repeated at the start of each of the three lines in the stanza. There are few expressions of hope, but they are placed in the center of the book to give them extra prominence in a situation where they are badly needed. Overall, this collection of laments reminds us that expressing anguish over a broken, fallen world is a legitimate part of the biblical drama.
1 How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she who was great among the nations!
She who was a princess among the provinces
has become a slave.
2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
she has none to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
they have become her enemies.
3 Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations,
but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.
4 The roads to Zion mourn,
for none come to the festival;
all her gates are desolate;
her priests groan;
her virgins have been afflicted,
and she herself suffers bitterly.
5 Her foes have become the head;
her enemies prosper,
because the Lord has afflicted her
for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
captives before the foe.
6 From the daughter of Zion
all her majesty has departed.
Her princes have become like deer
that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
before the pursuer.
7 Jerusalem remembers
in the days of her affliction and wandering
all the precious things
that were hers from days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
and there was none to help her,
her foes gloated over her;
they mocked at her downfall.
8 Jerusalem sinned grievously;
therefore she became filthy;
all who honored her despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness;
she herself groans
and turns her face away.
9 Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
she took no thought of her future;
therefore her fall is terrible;
she has no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed!”
10 The enemy has stretched out his hands
over all her precious things;
for she has seen the nations
enter her sanctuary,
those whom you forbade
to enter your congregation.
11 All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
to revive their strength.
“Look, O Lord, and see,
for I am despised.”
This book is a lament written by Jeremiah for the destruction of Jerusalem. At that time, the entire kingdom of Judah was completely defeated, the temple was destroyed, and the people were taken captive by the Babylonians. Jeremiah wept for the suffering and humiliated people, and tears penetrated his heart. This lament is read aloud to all the Jews every year, reminding them that the destruction of Jerusalem that year was caused by people’s stubborn sins. “Lovers” in the second verse refers to some countries such as Egypt, because the kingdom of Judah has always hoped that they can help. When the Babylonian army approached Jerusalem, the kings of Judah not only did not pray for God’s protection, but turned away from God and asked for help from other nations. As a result, these so-called “friends” betrayed and even fell into trouble. The most important lesson of the subjugation of Judah is “took no thought of her future” (v9). They refuse to believe that an immoral life will lead to divine punishment, the ultimate price of which is playing with fire and self-immolation. Today, in a seemingly comfortable environment, we can choose to listen to God’s words vigilantly, or we can choose to turn a deaf ear to God’s teachings. The results may not be different for the time being, but just as the judgment will surely come to Jerusalem that year, it will also come to us today. May we learn from the history of the fall of Judah. Everyone will listen to God’s words vigilantly and be humble and obey God’s will.
Come to God humbly, ask God to give you a heart that is always vigilant, and strive to live in God’s word every day; ask God to enlighten you so that you can confess your sins before God and be willing to repent completely; ask God to help you not to forget that His judgment has not yet come not because of delay, but because of forgiving us, not wanting one to perish, but for everyone to repent.
28 This is the number of the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, 3,023 Judeans; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem 832 persons; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Judeans 745 persons; all the persons were 4,600.
31 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 34 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, until the day of his death, as long as he lived.
The king of Babylon treated Jehoiachin kindly, took him out of prison in 561 BC, and let him eat with the king of Babylon. Jehoiachin was treated kindly not by accidental luck, but by God’s unchanging promise. God continued to treat King David’s descendants with love, even on the day of their captivity. In the eyes of the world, Jeremiah’s life is not at all successful. He has neither money nor family and friends. Although he has repeatedly prophesied that his country will be perished, the capital will be sabotaged by the enemy, and the temple will be destroyed, but no political or religious leader listens to his advice, and people do not support or obey him. However, when we look back on history, we can clearly see that this weeping prophet successfully fulfilled the mission entrusted to him by God in his life. Success is not measured by popularity, reputation or wealth, because these things are fleeting. Take the King Zedekiah as an example. He only sought personal gain and achievement, and ended up with nothing. God measures success by obedience, loyalty, and righteousness. If we can fulfill God’s commission to us faithfully and unswervingly throughout our lives, we will be successful people in God’s eyes. Pray that every brother and sister will become such a person.
Pray for God to lead you and make you understand His commission to your life; whether this commission is great or humble in the eyes of people, ask God to give you a loyal and courageous heart so that you can dedicate your time and strength in your whole life to accomplish the mission God ordained you.
59 The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster. 60 Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon. 61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, 62 and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’ 63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, 64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’”
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
Regardless of his situation, Jeremiah will bring God’s words to his fellow captives. Because he could not visit Babylon in person, Jeremiah entrusted Seraiah, the quartermaster, to bring his message to the place. Seraiah is probably Baruch’s brother. In Jeremiah’s last message, we once again see two major themes throughout the book: first, God has absolute sovereignty; second, God will impose a righteous judgment. Although God temporarily tolerated Babylon’s abuse of the people of Israel, He must judge its sins; God saves good people from their sins and must severely punish all evil ones. When we live in this generation, we will also face the oppression of various evil forces. Although the evil forces will triumph for a while, we must not give in because of its strength, nor should we be deceived by it, and go along with it, otherwise we will inevitably receive God’s judgment.
Pray for God to enlighten you, so that you can know more clearly that He is your God, you are His people, He has absolute sovereignty over you, and absolute sovereignty over mankind; ask God to give you greater faith and strength, so that you will not succumb to the evil power in your life, and you will never go along with it, and hold on to your faith in all your encounters, good or bad.
17 “Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones. 18 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 I will restore Israel to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and his desire shall be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. 20 In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.
In its heyday, the Babylonian Empire was so majestic that it seemed unshakable. However, after this empire achieved God’s purpose of judging Judah’s sins, it was also punished by God for its own sins and was destroyed by Medes-Persia in 539 BC. God will punish Babylon for Israel, just as it punishes Assyria before. Assyria once ruled Babylon, but was later destroyed by Babylon; Babylon also ruled Medes-Persia for a time, and was later defeated by Medes-Persia. This passage typifies the rebuilding of Israel when Messiah is in power. At that time, all those who seek God will be forgiven, and Israel will be cleansed from sin. The Holy Spirit often uses Babylon as a symbol of sin, and God destroys Babylon, a sign that God will execute a great and righteous judgment in the last days and completely eliminate all sins in the world. If we feel that this world is as sinful as a mountain that cannot be shaken for a while, we should live out God’s holiness in the filth with firm faith, and look forward to the day when God seeks vengeance and repays. It is also the day when the righteous followers of God receive rewards and be with God in eternal glory.
Pray for God to enlighten you and make you understand that God is always with you when you are sad and weak; pray that God will give you beautiful hope and make you understand that God has prepared a better home for you in heaven, where there is no pain, tears, crying, and death of God, God’s love will last forever; ask God to transform the hope in your heart into the courage in your life, and inspire you to sail against the current and bear a beautiful testimony for God in the world.
“Has Israel no sons?
Has he no heir?
Why then has Milcom dispossessed Gad,
and his people settled in its cities? 2 Therefore, behold, the days are coming,
declares the Lord,
when I will cause the battle cry to be heard
against Rabbah of the Ammonites;
it shall become a desolate mound,
and its villages shall be burned with fire;
then Israel shall dispossess those who dispossessed him,
says the Lord.
3 “Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is laid waste!
Cry out, O daughters of Rabbah!
Put on sackcloth,
lament, and run to and fro among the hedges!
For Milcom shall go into exile,
with his priests and his officials. 4 Why do you boast of your valleys,
O faithless daughter,
who trusted in her treasures, saying,
‘Who will come against me?’ 5 Behold, I will bring terror upon you,
declares the Lord God of hosts,
from all who are around you,
and you shall be driven out, every man straight before him,
with none to gather the fugitives.
6 “But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, declares the Lord.”
Similar to the Moabites, the Ammonites were descended from the incest between Lot and his younger daughter. The Moabites were judged because they occupied the land of the tribe of Gad, the people of God, worshipped the idol Moro, and offered their children as burnt offering. Both Rabbah and Heshbon were originally the prosperous metropolis of the Ammonites. Under the judgment of God, they eventually became a wasteland. Today, we are often attracted by the prosperity of the world, taking worldly wealth as our support. From the historical outcome of the Ammonites, we should have spiritual insights to understand that God is in power throughout human history, and the entire world has been under God’s judgment from ancient times to the present. No matter how dazzling the vanity and treasure of the world may seem, the glitz of seduction is just like dew on the grass, and the sun evaporates it without a trace. We should follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus, lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, set our minds on things that are above, and have an inheritance that is imperishable.
Pray for God to give you spiritual eyesight, not to be obscured by the vanity of the world, to see through everything in the world is nothing but vanity; only seeking God and living in God’s truth is the true purpose of life. Pray for God to lead you, Increase your inner strength, and make you a person who rely on God and is blessed by God throughout your life.
“Woe to Nebo, for it is laid waste!
Kiriathaim is put to shame, it is taken;
the fortress is put to shame and broken down; 2 the renown of Moab is no more.
In Heshbon they planned disaster against her:
‘Come, let us cut her off from being a nation!’
You also, O Madmen, shall be brought to silence;
the sword shall pursue you.
3 “A voice! A cry from Horonaim,
‘Desolation and great destruction!’ 4 Moab is destroyed;
her little ones have made a cry. 5 For at the ascent of Luhith
they go up weeping;
for at the descent of Horonaim
they have heard the distressed cry of destruction. 6 Flee! Save yourselves!
You will be like a juniper in the desert!…
45 “In the shadow of Heshbon
fugitives stop without strength,
for fire came out from Heshbon,
flame from the house of Sihon;
it has destroyed the forehead of Moab,
the crown of the sons of tumult. 46 Woe to you, O Moab!
The people of Chemosh are undone,
for your sons have been taken captive,
and your daughters into captivity. 47 Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in the latter days, declares the Lord.”
Thus far is the judgment on Moab.
This chapter predicts the punishment of Moab. The Moabites were the descendants of the incest between Lot and his eldest daughter (cf. Gen. 19:30-37). They tempted the Israelites to worship idols (cf. Num. 25:1-3) and joined Nebuchadnezzar’s army in attacking Judah in 602 BC, but in the end Moab was destroyed by Babylon. Chemosh is a false god worshipped by the Moabites, and the most important part of its worship ceremony is the sacrifice of children as a burnt offering. This evil act aroused God’s fierce anger and incurred severe punishment from God. We should understand that our God is a jealous God. The first commandment in the Ten Commandments is not to worship other gods. The sin of idolatry is a blasphemy against the true God and the sin that offends God the most. We should be vigilant in this world filled with all kinds of tangible and intangible idols, we must not be tempted to follow the world in idol worship and evil deeds in the process of idolatry, and otherwise we will incur severe punishment from God.
Pray for God to enlighten you and enable you to examine all aspects of your life and your thoughts to see if there are any tangible or intangible idols that are injuring your life; pray that God will remove these idols and cleanse you, and heal the injury caused by the idols; ask God to help you live a holy life, to be a good witness for Him, so that your friends and relatives who are still worshipping idols will realize the great harm of idols, and you can bring them to God.
1Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”…
7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.
Johanan and others decided the answer in their hearts before asking God. They promised Jeremiah verbally that they were willing to listen to what God said to them, good or bad, but they only wanted to listen to what they wanted, and their falsehood finally became a curse on themselves. Jeremiah described in detail the retribution they would receive if they did not listen to God, but they still did not believe it. The final outcome, as Jeremiah had forewarned, was that they all died in Egypt and no one remained. There are two mistakes made by Johanan and others: One is pride and rebellion, disobeying God’s will; the other is falsely asking God’s will and deceiving God. We should be vigilant and not make the same mistakes. Asking for God’s guidance without having the heart to obey it is really wrong. In addition, do not pray to God for things that go against God’s will and divine nature. Instead of making fake prayers, it is better not to pray. We should understand that God cannot be deceived. If you deceive God, you will be severely punished.
Ask God to examine your heart and let you see how many false elements in your prayers; each of us who is in sin has some falsehood, confess your falsehood to God and repent of your falsehood; dedicate to God that you are willing to pursue faith more sincerely, more obedience to God’s will, and willing to accomplish everything according to God’s will instead of your own will.
16 Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, after he had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam—soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back from Gibeon. 17 And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt 18 because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
The remnants of Judah lost the Law and faith in God in the desolate cities. Johanan and others fled to Egypt because they were afraid of the Chaldeans. They traveled south from Gibeon, stopped at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, and pretended to go to Jeremiah to ask for God’s will, but as Jeremiah said later, they didn’t really ask him for God’s will, but they had their own opinions in their hearts, and they only wanted to hear what they agreed with. Today, our fear will also cause us to lose confidence, so that we can make our own decisions and no longer want to follow God’s guidance. We should ask ourselves what we are afraid of. As Paul asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35, ESV). May we imitate Paul, without fear in our hearts, and in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Come to God humbly and tell God the fear in your heart; ask God to make you attracted by His love and willing to make sacrifices because you love God, because there is no fear in love; God has given you the courage not to fear of anything in the future, more than conquering through the Lord who loved us.