Last night in our study through the Old Testament we looked at the many warnings of the prophets of impending judgement from God towards his people. Despite the many efforts of the prophets, however, both Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) refused to repent and turn back to the LORD. God’s punishment was sure. And it came first to Israel and then to Judah. The Kingdom of Judah was captured by the Babylonians. Judah’s people we taken to Babylon as slaves. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed. And the temple of the LORD was looted and razed. It is during this time that Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations.
God had warned his people. They refused to listen. His anger and wrath was pour out upon them. And Jeremiah mourned. He mourned the fact that the LORD poured his cup of wrath upon Judah (Lam 2:4, 4:11). He mourned because the LORD was forced to bring a lawsuit against Judah (Lam 2:8). He mourned because the LORD had uncovered the nakedness of Judah (Lam 1:8) and that the nations mocked and hurled insults at them (Lam 2:15, 16). He mourned because the LORD had made the promised land – the land once flowing with milk and honey – into wasteland without food and water (Lam 1:11, 2:12). He mourned because the LORD had forsaken Judah and become her enemy (Lam 2:5). And he mourned because the LORD punished Judah for her sins (Lam 1:5).
But, Jeremiah’s mourning is not without hope. For we see here a picture of the suffering of one greater than Judah. One who prays in the garden of Gethsemane that the LORD’s cups of wrath would pass by him. One who is brought before the courts of Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate and unjustly accused. One who is stripped naked. One who bears the insults and mockery of soldiers, bystanders, and even condemned criminals hanging at his side. One who was thirsty, but not satisfied. One who cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” One who, though without sin, for our sake was made to be sin that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We see in the death of Jesus Christ our Lord the very punishment that befell Judah. Yet, it was not for his sins, but for ours. How great the love of Christ – that he would bear the punishment, anger, and wrath of God on our behalf! Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.