The Lamentations of Jeremiah Chapter 5
Lessons from the text
Loosing All You Have
The Jews of Jeremiah’s day went from having lavish lives in prosperity to having to buy back the very things that belonged to them. In an ironic turn of events, the very ones who were selling riches to the world were suddenly without any substance of their own, having to purchase everything they needed. They literally experienced a role reversal.
Dabbling in sin is runs the risk of having your life turned upside down in a judgment of God. You may be the wealthiest human being on earth, yet if you are in sin you may find yourself one day homeless and begging for bread. God does not permit sinners to prosper. While it may appear at first that God is endorsing the wicked by blessing them with substance, such is merely an appearance; in time, God will cause every person to reap what he or she has sown (Gal. 6:7). If not in this life, then in the life to come.
Consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man fared sumptuously everyday, but when he died he was bereft of every comfort, even the comfort of a single drop of water to cool his parched tongue (Lk. 16:-1925). Even so everyone who does wickedly, be it an individual or a nation, will one day be bereft of all their goods and left begging for the things they once had in abundance. In short, it does not pay to sin.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 Jeremiah prays to God, asking Him to consider the sufferings of the people.
2-18 Jeremiah lists all the terrible things that have happened to the Jews.
2-3 Their land has been taken from them (they are deported into Babylon); they are orphans because the fruit of their labors is taken from them; they are fatherless because their history (their cities and nation) has been lost; and they are widows because they are left desolate.
4-6 The Jews are paying for what once belonged to them. All the riches of their homeland are now being exported to the neighboring countries where the Jews are living. The sellers have now become the buyers. They have fallen so low that they have given all that they have to the Egyptians and the Assyrians just to receive bread.
7-9 Jeremiah states that the Jews are in such dire circumstances because of the sins of the previous generations. Children usually follow the trend of their parents, especially in terms of sinning worse and worse. Even so the sin of the previous generations has left the current generation lost to sin and the consequences of sin.
10-16 Jeremiah lists the severe conditions of the people. The famine is so grievous that the Jews’ are dehydrated to the point that their skin parches in the sun. The women are unable to defend themselves. The princes and elders are disrespected and powerless. The children are forced to work as slaves. Such tragedy has cause the joy and normal activities to cease. All of these are consequences of their sins.
17-18 Notice that Jeremiah does not state that the people are faint at heart because of their sins; they are faint at heart because of the persecutions. The people grieve the loss of their lands and favorable position above other nations; they do not appear to be grieving over their spiritual condition. Jeremiah, however, mourns their spiritual state.
19-21 Despite all the afflictions around him, Jeremiah is still able to praise God. He knows the people are receiving the just reward for their sins. Nonetheless, Jeremiah appeals to God. He asks God to turn again in compassion and mercy on His people.
22 Jeremiah makes no excuses. He knows that God is just in being angry with the Jews. Therefore, he leaves the decision up to God; he does not accuse God of unfairly treating the people but instead merely asks God to judge according to compassion rather than justice. This last sentence is not a resignation; it is Jeremiah acknowledging the sovereignty of God and waiting silently for God’s response. The Lord does not give Jeremiah a reply because He has done so elsewhere; after seventy years, God will restore the Jews to their land (Jer. 29:10).
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