II. God’s Judgment on Jerusalem (Lamentations 2:1-22)


II. God’s Judgment on Jerusalem (2:1-22)

2:1-5 With great grief, Jeremiah describes the total ruin of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. But the invaders are barely mentioned because the point is that God overshadowed . . . swallowed up . . . demolished . . . cut off . . . and destroyed Judah as a result of his wrath and burning anger against his people (2:1-5). That the Lord cut off every horn of Israel (2:3) refers to every symbol of strength—including fortified cities and leaders (2:2). God made them as helpless as children against the enemy.

2:6-10 Perhaps most disturbing of all, God had even wrecked his temple (2:6)! Although this was the place he had chosen for his name, he had warned, “I will banish [the temple] from my presence” if Israel turned to other gods (2 Chr 7:16, 19-20). And so he did.

With this rejection of Jerusalem’s holy place of worship, God had abolished appointed festivals and Sabbaths in Zion and despised king and priest alike (2:6). The festivals had been ignored or conducted with hypocrisy anyway, and many of the kings and priests had demonstrated no spiritual leadership. That even her prophets receive no vision from the Lord (2:9) means that in Judah all three levels of leadership—king, priest, and prophet—had failed. All that the people could do was silently mourn while wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads (2:10)—symbolic acts of great grief (see Job 16:15; Neh 9:1).

2:11-14 As a witness to the destruction of [his] dear people, Jeremiah cannot stop weeping as he watches hungry children cry out to their mothers, who are unable to feed their starving little ones (2:11-12). But as painful as it was to witness this, Jeremiah did not lose sight of the reason his people were suffering: they’d earned God’s judgment for their sin. They needed to know this, in fact, so they could repent and not repeat their foolish decisions.

Jeremiah had chastised Judah’s lying prophets who’d failed to point out the people’s iniquity but instead told kings and people what they wanted to hear (2:14), thus contributing to their demise. Examples of false prophets from Jeremiah’s day include Pashhur, Hananiah, Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah (see Jer 20:1-6; 28:1-17; 29:21-32).

2:15-22 Judah’s enemies heaped scorn upon the people (2:15-16), but they weren’t their primary foe. The Babylonians, after all, were merely the bows, arrows, and spears in God’s hand used to accomplish what he had planned and ordained (2:17). Centuries before, when he’d established his covenant with Israel, he’d threatened judgment for their disobedience (see Deut 28:15-68). Then, after years of observing their idolatry, he specifically warned that he would use the Babylonians to punish his people (see 2 Kgs 20:17-18; Hab 1:6). Therefore, instead of simply moaning about their fate, God’s people needed to cry out in repentance and beg him for mercy (2:19-20).

When God is your biggest problem, he is also your only hope. His holiness is unchanging. So when it confronts you, you must do the adjusting.