Reading through the Bible together
We want to blame someone when bad things happen to us. First, we wonder about the “why” and “how” and then we focus on the “who.” Lamentations 2 is struggling with the “who.” The LORD “has swallowed up” and “thrown down;” He “has brought down” and “cut off”—so it seems from Jeremiah’s perspective (vs. 2, 3).
God’s anger “blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire devouring all around (v. 3). He was not only “like an enemy” (v. 5); He seemingly had abandoned the entire cultic worship system, including altar, tabernacle, feasts, and priests (vs. 6, 7). How could the One who had established the sacrificial temple system pointing to the heavenly sanctuary be the agent of its destruction? I can hear Jeremiah’s puzzlement, but the description of God’s wrath needs to be balanced with the centuries of divine patience as Israel followed their own desires, their neighbors, and their sinful inclinations—but not their God.
Centuries of idolatry, of spiritual decline and the neglect of compassion for the weak and the needy had finally met with divine judgment. Jerusalem’s fall was not due to an angry outburst of an irrational divine bully god who needed to let off steam. “Who can heal you?” asks the author of Lamentations (v. 13). Who can heal our wounds and injuries when we struggle with our guilt and a God who seems to be far away?
Lamentations 2 does not offer a clear answer—not yet. But we understand that God “has done what He purposed” (v. 17). His arm is not too short; He is neither far-removed nor quickly irritated. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the universe. He is willing to give everything for His children. His promises will be fulfilled—though He may tarry a while (Hab. 2:3).
Gerald A. Klingbeil, D.Litt.
Assoc. Editor of Adventist Review/Adventist WorldResearch Professor, Andrews University