“The LORD is righteous,
yet I rebelled against his command.
Listen, all you peoples;
look on my suffering.
My young men and young women
have gone into exile.
The book of Lamentations was written by prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah laments or weeps or cries over the misfortune that has befallen the Jewish people because of their sins. Jeremiah had prophesied to the Jewish people that their sins will bring them this misfortune. They ignored him and now he was witnessing the carnage that God had allowed to take place as a punishment for their sins. Jeremiah laments!
Sin is so deceptive all the way until when God punishes it and it’s too late to reform that we realize its risk. Between when God warns us against sin and when punishment comes, is a period of time that sin deceives us that nothing will happen to us. Between when the warning is given and when punishment comes, preaching is empty and irritating. Between when the warning is given and when punishment comes sin lures us to doubt God’s word. Israel was warned but only realized the seriousness when it was too late to reverse the events.
Jeremiah laments with the people over what is happening. The arrests, the murders, the plunders, and other disasters that Babylon the punishing nation is causing. Jeremiah laments that enemies are happy as Israel suffers. Jeremiah laments that no one seems to sympathize with Israel. Then amidst that lamentation, Jeremiah admits that God is righteous but Israel is guilty. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
These laments are written like poems and songs. They are in sets that are twenty-two verses or can be divided by twenty-two. Letters of the Hebrew alphabet are twenty-two. These laments were written as poems and songs to be sung. Therefore these laments were sung by Israelites. As they sang and lamented they also confessed guilt and did not charge God with unfair treatment. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
Israel admits that God is ever right and they are rebellious. Therefore this painful experience is what they deserve. After all assessments of the situation from the time Jeremiah and other prophets warned them, God was patient with them. Therefore they conclude that God is righteous but they are the rebels. They admit that they deserve punishment, even as they beg for reprieve and mercy. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge.”
Noah preached for 120 years as he built the Ark. When eventually the flood came and killed people. None of the dying sinners could blame Noah or God. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
At the end of time God will be proved true and everyone else a liar. God is patient and gives us many opportunities. When eventually we get a punishment we acknowledge His fairness. God gave the Pharaoh of Egypt ten plagues as an opportunity for him to avert the deaths of firstborns. When eventually firstborns died and later on Pharaoh and his armies drowned in the Red Sea, none of them blamed God. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
We learn from God that we need to be very patient with each other. We should follow a justice system that is so transparent that even the guilty acknowledges that the process was fair. We must not just want to be fair, but also be seen as being fair. The highest point in the justice system is not just when justice is served but also when the guilty suffer punishment but do not cast doubt on the process. This is how church discipline should be done. This is how workplace discipline should be done. This is how children should be disciplined. This is how schools should treat children. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
Sodom and Gomorrah did not doubt God’s justice. Egypt did not. Israel did not during their many trips to captivity because of sin and back home because of repentance. When Nathan confronted David about his sin, David acknowledged. Even the guilty will not doubt His fairness!
Dear God, help us to be so fair that like You, those we think are guilty should be given so many chances through forgiveness and when eventually we must make them pay for their wrongdoing, may they not doubt the patience and the process. May we also be beneficiaries of such patience and clarity in justice processes, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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