To put it simply, Jeremiah's reaction to God's judgment in the book of Lamentations is agony. Jeremiah states:
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. (Lamentations 2:11)
In a very small way I feel the same about our country. America is in many ways a Christian nation. This is an easy point to make and ought to engender no real debate. The history of this country is not hard to research and so it is very surprising to see us as a nation disregard our heritage and deny the very tenants that have given us foundation for freedom and equality. We are not, nor have we ever been, nor should we be, a theocracy. Romans thirteen points out this fact nicely and will suffice as a proof text for this paper. That said, the nation of Israel was a theocracy in some sense even having kings like the other nations. God dealt with Israel nationally and was the Father of the nation. Literally God was giving promises to the people of Israel from the beginning. Promises of blessing and curses had everything to do with being fruitful and living long on the land and really had nothing to do with eternal salvation. Look here at the following verses:
"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
What was of utmost sadness for Jeremiah was the very fact that the demise of Israel was foretold from the very inception of its promises. Built in to the fabric of the nation were a blessing and a curse.
Today many claim verses of prosperity from the Old Testament and totally neglect the very next verses of cursing. If the blessings are true than so are the cursing. This is not a position anyone today would want to be under yet it is precisely the position that any nation claiming to be a nation given to God would hold. In some way the very idea that Israel was blessed in her Godly adherence to national righteousness begets the question that if we are to claim the same privilege are we to claim the same curses? If this were the case, and I do not think it really is, than we might get an idea of Jeremiah's mourning. Our country is seeing God's lack of blessing due in large part to the lack Scriptural support for our many national decisions. This is very different than being sold into slavery and seeing our country ravaged. Jeremiah had lost all hope in the Lord and was facing the fact of seemingly absolute national rejection. He says:
He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD." (Lamentations 3:16-18)
We do not know what it is to have no hope; at least not yet. Our nation is a secular one founded on principles of Scripture and it is falling due to a departure from this base. We are not experiencing absolute rejection nor are we experiencing judgment. In fact I can think of no examples where people in our country have had to eat their own children to survive. When we speak of our country being under God's wrath we minimize the real wrath of God and magnify our own plight. It is much like a person with a hangnail complaining about pain in the same room as a person who just ruptured their appendix. Perhaps we will see real judgment in our nation but before we decry our plight and recession and economic woes and the terror of Obama (whom I heavily dislike by the way) we might remember the cries of Jeremiah. Let us continue to fight the good fight and turn our nation upside down as we make disciple-making disciples through the personal investment of our lives. This is what turned Ephesus upside down and it can do the same here. It is not quite the time to cry out in despair for our national rejection and if we think it is let us revisit Lamentations.
Pastor, Barabbas Road Church