Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Great is Thy Faithfulness O God our Father (1)

Lamentations 3:21-26.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

During the early years of missionary activity in China, one little boy, professed faith in Jesus Christ.  The father felt he was not old enough, so he explained to the lad that he might fall back if he made a profession when he was so young.  To his well-meaning, concerned father, the boy gave this touching reply:  "Jesus has promised to carry the lambs in His arms.  I am only a little boy.  It will be easier for Jesus to carry me."  The simplicity and genuineness of the boy's faith made a profound impression on the father, and he quickly sensed that his son knew what he was talking about.  Soon the youngster made known his faith in Christ and followed the Lord in believer's baptism. In deed the Lord is faithful and able to do what He undertook in our lives, even to eternity. We must no fall into doubt or fear. I would like us to have our faith strengthened in this regard from the book of Lamentations!
The book of Lamentations is made up of five acrostic lament poems, or dirges, that is, songs of mourning. Each is an expression of grief over the fall of Jerusalem. They were written by Jeremiah against the backdrop of the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem. Here we see the awful sufferings endured by the people of that city at the hand of their enemies.  The loss of a nation is a great loss and deserves a lament as we have here, yet the loss of a soul is even a greater loss. Although these are lamentations, yet the purpose of the book is to produce hope in the God whose mercy is new every morning and whose faithfulness is so great that it is extended to an unfaithful people. We know that Jeremiah wrote a lament for Josiah in 2 Chron. 35:25
Jeremiah, who was known as the Weeping Prophet is known by his unending sadness and deep depression. Who is Jeremiah?

1.       He received an unwanted call to be a prophet (Jer. 1:5-6)
2.       He was called to preach judgment (Jer. 1:9-10)
3.       He was forbidden to marry so that he might give himself more fully to this ministry of proclaiming the impending judgment of God – (Jer. 16:1-13). He was very familiar with loneliness.
4.       He was a man of deep sadness and he wept openly about the sins of his people – (Jer. 9:1)
5.       He endured depression as the result of this message going unheeded for so long. He even came to the point where he tried to get out of the ministry, (Jer. 20:9). His pain is understandable, because in a ministry that spanned some 50 years, there is no record of even one convert (may be Baruch his scribe & possibly Ebed-Melech)
6.       He suffered imprisonment by King Zedekiah because the king did not approve of Jeremiah’s preaching – (Jer. 32:5). Even while the Babylonians are invading the city in fulfilment of his prophet declarations, Jeremiah in the dungeon – (Jer. 32:2).
7.       After Jerusalem fell, people killed or taken captive, the prophet did not gloat or take an “I told you so” attitude. Instead, he grieved with the remnant and suffered with them – (Lamentations 1-5).
After enduring a life like this: being rejected, hated, mocked, imprisoned, and ignored. His city, rather the city of God, Jerusalem was ransacked, desecrated and destroyed. So He experienced the horrors of war, the brutality of the enemy and the pangs of hunger, Jeremiah was still able to stand forth amid the rubble of the city and the bodies of the dead and lift his voice in praise to God for His great, unfailing, yet unmerited faithfulness to His people. How was this possible? Despite his trials and his troubles, Jeremiah had a good grasp on the reality of just who God is!
Jeremiah knew that whether things went well, or whether everything fell apart, God would still be God and that God would be eternally faithful to His people, This is what we are considering in Lamentations. He was able to find hope in a hopeless situation because he believed in the faithfulness of His great God.