Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.
That’s pretty intense if you think about it. A little back story: basically Jerusalem has committed sins against the Lord(what a surprise). Because of their sins, the Lord has removed His mercy from their land and now destruction is upon them. Jerusalem is being attacked, but it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into fighting back, they can’t win because the Lord has removed His protection from them. The Lord even broke down His own temple in Jerusalem. The prophets are no longer receiving visions from the Lord.
It seems Jerusalem has done some pretty terrible things against the Lord, perhaps maybe even more terrible than anything you’ve ever done, then again perhaps not. Whatever it was, it made God furious.
There’s two things I can’t help but notice in these verses though:
1) Jerusalem is still referred to as “beautiful”
So despite the many sins of Jerusalem, it is still referred to as “beautiful.” I just can’t imagine facing anyone’s wrath, but yet in the middle of it, you’re still referred to as beautiful. Jerusalem was/is God’s chosen nation, chosen people. Even in His wrath, He still loves them.
2) There’s forgiveness
This one might be easy to miss. Despite the misery Jerusalem is in, they are still being told to offer their hearts back to God. They committed some pretty terrible sins against God, is currently experiencing His wrath, but somehow they are still being offered forgiveness through repentance and committing their hearts back to God.
This all relates back to us. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses some pretty crazy words to describe God’s relationship to us. He used words such as:
He choose us (v.4). Holy and blameless (v.4). Predestined us for adoption (v.5). Predestined (repeated in v.11). Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (v.13).
As Jerusalem was God’s chosen people, we all are now God’s chosen people through faith in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we are all His beautiful children, and that’s the way He is going to refer to both you and I, despite what we do. Through faith, we have forgiveness of sins. Galatians reminds us over and over again that we are no longer slaves of the law, but slaves of Christ. It’s all about Him. It’s not about us. It’s not about what you’ve done, are doing, and will do, it’s about what He has done for us. Nothing can change His love for us.
I believe the catch, if there is one, is this: the more we chose to live for the world, the less of God we will see in our life. I heard this beautiful illustration of a glass window the other day. Sunlight was trying to enter the room, but because of the filthiness of the window, the sunlight couldn’t reach into the room. Dust had collected and layered itself over the window. That dust is our sins if we let it continue in our lives. Your sins are forgivable, but they still leave a mark on us. The strongest impact is that it gets in the way of letting Christ’s light into our heart. The more we sin, the less we feel God. That’s not to say if you aren’t feeling God, it is because of some sin in your life. But often, because of sin, we separate ourselves from God. It’s the consequence of the choice we make when we sin. Our sin creates a filter over the window and that changes the effect of God’s light into our hearts.
But there is always forgiveness, your window can always be cleaned, and not just cleaned, but be made new, and bigger!
No matter the guilt you are feeling, even if it is greater, or less then the guilt we see in Lamentations 2, God can restore your heart. That’s exciting. We can’t be to far gone for Him to heal us.
You’re still beautiful. You’re still forgiven.
“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again.
Micah 7:18 -19
Where is another God like you,
who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!