The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)
1:1-11 - The Deserted City
"How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal.
"She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.
"Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives not among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
"The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter.
"Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
"From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.
"Jerusalem remembers, in the days of her affliction and wandering, all the precious things that were hers in the days of old. When her people fell into the hands of the foe, and there was no one to help her, the foe looked on mocking over her downfall.
"Jerusalem sinned grievously, so she has become a mockery; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans, and turns her face away.
"Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future; her downfall was appalling, with no one to comfort her. 'Oh Lord, look at my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!'
"Enemies have stretched out their hands over all her precious things; she has even seen the nations invade her sanctuary, those whom you forbade to enter your congregation.
"All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, and see how worthless I have become."
1:15 - "The Lord has rejected all my warriors in the midst of me; he proclaimed a time against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press the virgin daughter Judah."
1:17-19 - "Zion stretched out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her; the Lord has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should become his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.
"The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but Hear, all you peoples, and behold my suffering; my young women and young men have gone into captivity.
"I called to my lovers but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city while seeking food to revive their strength."
*sigh* I think I spoke too soon. -_-
How long can they harp on this? Yes, God's people cheated on God. Yes, God got super angry (even though it hurt him more than it did them) and punished his people. Yes, it really sucked for his people.
Can we move on, now?!
What is the point of dragging this on for so long? What does this add to anything? Is it supposed to add to our moral code? Is it supposed to add to our sympathy for God's people? Is it supposed to add to our awe of God and his power? Is it supposed to make us love God more? Fear God more? Understand God more? Is it supposed to explain why bad things exist (because if God will do this shit to his most loved children imagine what he's make normal people suffer through)? Is it just filler to make the Bible longer? Why did the few skilled people in the world at this time waste so much precious paper to records something that was basically just a waste of space?
My main beef here is, why are we supposed to be siding with now? During Jeremiah, it was fairly obvious that Jeremiah was the character we were supposed to side with and sympathize with (not that it means I DID relate to and sympathize with him). Jeremiah was God's man in the street, trying to turn people back to God and away from their "sins." He was laughed at and treated as an outcast for this, even while Israel and Jerusalem and others began to feel God's punishment and anger. Jeremiah, who whined incessantly about how no one would listen to him and how persecuted he was because he only believed in God, was our lead in that book. Even if you didn't identify with him or feel for him, which I sure as hell didn't, it was obvious that was the point.
But here, in Lamentations, we are no longer getting these accounts from Jeremiah (or whoever actually wrote the book). This is no longer prophecy and warnings spouted by a lone believer, cautioning God's people to turn back to him lest God destroy them in his righteous anger. This book is told from the point of view of some man (not identified as of yet) who is quite obviously caught up in these great punishments. Now we get the view of those people whom were beaten and destroyed, left to fend for themselves while they tried to survive God's angry onslaught. Am I now supposed to identify and sympathize with Jerusalem and Israel and all the people who were cruelly and needlessly tormented for a crime as petty and small as worshiping gods other than Yahweh? I'm going to think no, that I am not supposed to sympathize with them at all because it would honestly make no sense for such a huge shift to take place from one book to the next. I imagine the real purpose of this is for those who would dare turn their back on God to see just exactly what the punishment is for such a "crime."
1:18 - "The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but Hear, all you peoples, and behold my suffering; my young women and young men have gone into captivity."
We are supposed to feel the pain of the people of Israel, not to empathize with them but instead to learn from it and, for those few truly faithful, possibly even to look down upon those poor, suffering souls with a look of "I told you so" because you stayed faithful and loyal to God unlike those weak and faithless fools. Really, the Bible LOVES to talk about those who are without faith as being fools, so why would this be any different? The person talking in Lamentations (and the city of Jerusalem) completely DESERVED what happened to them. Their cries, their pain, their rape and suffering. Whatever pity the true believer may feel for them is simply that.
Lamentations (so far, anyway) to me shows just how cruel God has been to these people and to these cities. He has left Jerusalem and Zion and Babylon and others raped and lain open, their shame open for all to see. They are left alone and unclean, without God to help them or comfort them even when their crimes were not great.
The narrator of this book may look upon this suffering and say it is just even while he is in pain and sees the desolation and ruin around him.
I look upon this and wonder for the thousandth time how anyone can say they love such a God who is willing to destroy the ones he claims to love the most.
Friday: More Lamentations