In last week’s bulletin we introduced the fact that Jeremiah’s assignment from God was to root out, to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant in the nations. (see Jer. 1:9-10)
And we said that only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit can one fulfill such a commission through the Spoken Word. So I mentioned that this assignment was a forerunner to the Spirit of Prayer. The Spirit of God is known as the “Intercessor.” (See John 14:25)
At his prophetic word, the mightiest nations of his time rose and fell moved at the Word of Jeremiah by the Holy Ghost. The judgment and justice of God fell on them. Judah itself refused to repent at Jeremiah’s preaching to his great disappointment.
When Judah failed to repent and obey His message and warnings of over 40 years, judgment came, they went into captivity and Jerusalem fell. So Lamentations is a book of mourning. Jeremiah was moved with the plight of the people. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah was expressing how much Judah had grieved the Holy Spirit.
Dictionary meaning of the word lament is wail or wailing, moan or mourning, crying, sobbing, beat one’s breast, express regret or disappointment over something considered disappointing.
Jeremiah lamented over the fall of Judah and the conditions that prevailed at that time. You have to understand that in the Old Testament, they didn’t know and neither does the Hebrew language express the difference between someone causing something and permitting it. Some people say Jeremiah was bemoaning his own lack of success in turning Judah back to Jehovah after 40 years of laying down his life for them.
So as Jeremiah mourned with strong expressions of pain and grief over Jerusalem he seemed to attribute it all to God. (Lam. 2:11 Yet in his mourning, he was still interceding for them. In the midst of his intercession, God by the Holy Spirit spoke some remarkable things through him correcting his theology.
Lam 3:22-24 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” NKJV
If you keep on reading the rest of this chapter, you’ll find that he started to prophesy Judah’s future:
Lam 3:31-33 For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes (permits) grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men. NKJV
He said: “God does not afflict willingly and had it not been for God’s mercy, they’d have been consumed.“ You see, God was forced to turn them over to judgment because their sin had reached the level of calling for judgment. He was quite patient with them, He gave them years to repent and turn to Him. So God had no choice in the matter except to remove His hedge of protection. They didn’t want Him. They were totally responsible for what happened to them. So in chapter 5, Jeremiah continued to intercede for them. (See Lam.5:1-7)
In the New Covenant we live in, God’s wrath has been appeased (atoned for) through the punishment Jesus took for our sin. But sin still grieves the Holy Spirit. If one insists on standing in the face of the gospel, he or she can grieve the Holy Spirit and judgment can be swift as happened in the book of Acts. (See Acts 8:9-24; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 13:6-11 and Eph.4:29-30)
The Holy Spirit also has an intercessory ministry that grieves at sin. He’s looking for those through whom He will carry out His ministry of Intercession. (Ez. 22:30)
We must also remember that we in the body of Christ have an intercessory ministry as priests in the kingdom of God. (Is 66:8, Gal 4:19) When was the last time you wept over the lost souls in our city and nation? When you hear bad news, your first response should first be prayer and prophesying good things to come.
Like Jeremiah of old, and like Jesus our Lord, we ought to be moved by the pain and suffering of humanity around us. Jeremiah did and God gave him good words to prophesy about their return from captivity.