This is the actual text from Iverna’s out-of-print book, Deserved Devestation: Depending on Grace, 1987 that i sappearing on the Lion Cubs page of the ITM website during 2008. This is Part 1 of 3 prepared for the Archive.
Deserved Devastation – Depending on Grace:
Lessons from Lamentations
Archive –Part 3 :
Lamentations – Chapters 4 and 5
Iverna Tompkins, 1987
Lamentations 4 : 1-22
1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them.
5 They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.
7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:
8 Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.
9 They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.
12 The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.
13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,
14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.
15 They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.
16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.
17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.
18 They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.
19 Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.
22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.
Exposition of the text
Once more Zion is looked upon. In chapter 1, the writer surveyed the ruin of Jerusalem and the misery of her people, causing us to be aware that we are accountable to God. When we pursue sin in the face of God's chastisement, destruction must follow.
Chapter 2 reveals the awful fate of God's people when given up by God, reminding us that God will not be mocked and we will reap what we sow (cf. Gal.6:7).
Chapter 3 is the expression of Jeremiah's personal grief and misery showing the need of personal involvement.
Now the writer recalls the glory that once belonged to God's people and contrasts it with their present state.
Vss.1-5 – What once was precious has now become vile. That which brought glory and honor is now worthless. The degradation has become so complete and commonplace that hearts have hardened to the misery and have become merciless even to the most pitiful. Human suffering doesn't even touch them. It is ignored as though it didn't exist. Today as the media continually brings deprivation and wretchedness before us, we are in danger of this same callousness.
Vs.6 – The punishment of God's own people seems greater than the destruction of the blatantly godless, but we must remember that to who much is given, much is required (Lk.12:48). The judgment of the godless is an eternal one.
Vss.7, 8 – Even the most outstanding are now unrecognizable. Oh, the horror of seeing one who once wore the mantle of God with the glory revealed in his countenance, walking amidst the congregation of unbelievers and not even noticed.
Vss.9, 10 – In their own want they have lost all human care, so desperate are they to meet their own desires. While this appalls us in our civilized society, we need to recognize what it is in its more acceptable form.
How many children have been destroyed through the withholding of time and attention by parents intent on fulfilling their own desires? Selfishness, seeking our own pleasures, or venting our anger have been the downfall of many younger ones, so that we could have our own way or feel better, but at their expense. The subtlety of sin in a polite society and educated culture is still sin and must be dealt with.
Vss.11-13 – "It can't happen here." This mentality often blinds one to reality. We ignore truth, enjoying whatever makes us feel good and whatever requires nothing from us even if it's deception. We?d rather be deceived than pay a price. Spiritual leaders dare not sacrifice truth to please people.
Vss.14-16. – After God's revelation of truth, no one wants these ousted leaders around. They don't even want to come near them and God scatters them so their confirmation of each other's deceit can no longer carry weight. These who once had places of honor no longer have a dwelling place.
Vss.17-20. – We have thought so many wrong things about God and His ways, often based on other people's opinions, on half-truths and on an unwillingness to accept the whole counsel of God because it wasn't comfortable or didn't fit into our doctrine.
When God unleashes His wrath, there is no power that can rescue. Fear paralyzes and the enemy's chase quickly becomes triumph over the anointed of the Lord.
Vss.21, 22 – Edom, the enemy nation rejoices, but not for long. The degradation of punishment that Zion is experiencing will not last forever. Her exile will be over and the enemy's wickedness will be dealt with by God.
Chastening is complete when repentance – turning around – takes place. The song, "At Calvary" declares this of salvation:
"O, the love that drew salvation's plan!
O, the grace that brought it down to man!
O, the mighty gulf that God did span
It is in this awareness that we repeat Paul's message, "Sin shall not have dominion over you?" (Rom.6:14).
Lesson we can learn
"How the gold has lost its luster" (vs.1). Revelation 3:18 says, "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." God's counsel, from His heart to our hearts, is found here. What does it mean?
Suppose two individuals of the same age and background go through the same problems. One of them submits totally to God, knowing that what the Lord is doing is for his good and thanking Him for the revelation of self during the trial. (When God reveals you to you, it's a compliment because He's saying, "You're mature enough to see this.") He appeals to the mercy and grace of God, appropriating the efficacy of the Blood and giving thanks to the Lord for revealing it so he can be set free.
The other person going through the same things has the same revelation but the response is, "If this is what the Christian life is and all my efforts come to this, I don't want any part of God or the church." This person goes out in bitterness and has pity parties.
What made the difference between these two individuals? The first one received the counsel of the Lord and determined to buy gold with what was happening to him.
We have heard much on forgiveness in recent years because the Lord is cleansing His church. This is where judgment begins and to the church, judgment is always in mercy. God desires pure gold and the only way to find it is to let the fires of adversity and problems of life heat up and – boil us.
Gold must be brought to the boiling point so that all the scum can rise to the surface and be skimmed off. This process is repeated until the goldsmith can see his own face reflected in the luster of the gold. We would prefer to be draped, not cleansed, but God doesn't put His robes of righteousness over filth. He cleanses from the inside out so the robes can be a recognition of what God has done within.
Some people have been deeply offended within the church. Sadly true. And of course, that's where we are injured. The world doesn?t affect us. When they find fault with us, it often makes us feel rather spiritual. But when people in the church hurt us, we have little tolerance.
Sometimes we forgive if the other person asks us and admits they are wrong, but we find it difficult when the other person does not say he is sorry nor confess he was at fault. Forgiveness cannot be based on another's attitude. It must be upon our understanding of our need to forgive, regardless of desire or responses (Mk.11:25; Lk.17:4; Eph.4:32; Col.3:13).
God desires to use us in the lives of others in the days to come, but if we sit in bitterness, we only heap upon ourselves dark clouds of gloom and pain and unfortunately that is what we minister. A bitter spirit breeds more bitterness. If we will see these experiences as the fire of God, and if we can know that He has forgiven us of far more than others have ever done to us, it will never have to be said of us: "Oh, how the luster is lost from the gold."
Not only is the luster lost, but love is lost. Even the natural maternal instincts have taken another course, for apart from God, there is no love. The world today confuses love with lust. The only true source of love is God – for God is love (1Jn.4:7,8). All the love we have ever known is from Him.
When God withdraws His Spirit from a nation or a family, there will be no love. Self-preservation and a drive of humanity will take over and will do anything or kill anyone as it deems necessary. It is "every man for himself."
There is no love apart from the love of God and then from His heart back to one another. We have a responsibility not only to give love to each other but we have a responsibility in what we take when it is given. We must not try to take or make more out of what is given than is, because we are responsible to God Himself.
Israel cries that things are worse for her than they were for Sodom. Of course, they are going to be. With increased revelation comes increased responsibility (Lk.12:48). Even at this moment you are accountable for what you are reading.
The days of exchanging knowledge from one mind to another are over. The word "deep" has become associated with spirituality though often if we didn?t understand something, we would say it was "deep." We declared that we wanted deeper teaching and deeper ministry but without even realizing it, what we meant was we wanted something from another's intellect to our intellect so we could parrot them and impress others.
This is the kind of thing that children do and for a while the Lord seemed to allow it. But when God gives us insight we need to do something with it, not just make it a rallying point for a select group of people. We have a responsibility to walk in the truth that we see. That?s what revelation means.
The cry of the Holy Spirit is, "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches?" (Rev.3:6,13 KJV). If we have an ear and understand what we hear, then we must appropriate it. Our responsibility to God will be greater than it was for those of Sodom for they had no preachers. The most godly thing that happened to them was that Lot lived among them, and he didn't make much of an impact, so God finally and totally quickly destroyed them.
The Israelites in Lamentations, on the other hand, are being destroyed slowly and painfully by starvation. But before God brings destruction to us who have known truth, He always first warns and gives us an opportunity to repent and change our ways. The lingering before destruction is His love to us even though it seems more harsh.
There is also a leveling that God brings about. When people hurt us or we experience disaster, it hurts and pierces us and is difficult to handle, but when God levels us He takes over everything. He doesn't just deal with externals but gets to our very foundations. We usually only care if the building looks pretty, not about what is underneath. So sometimes, God rips a thing apart because the foundation was so wrong that it cannot be rebuilt until it is first destroyed.
Sometimes churches fall apart, because the core is rotten; the foundation is poor. The motivation for or the inception of that church was wrong and throughout the years the church will rise to a certain level and then fall. It is because God wants to do away with the whole structure so He can squeeze the core out of the boil and cleanse the foundation. Then it can be re-built firmly, and stand when winds come and storms break and floods overflow. Rebuilt it can be pure and founded on the principles of God.
As we apply this to marriages, can we also see it in our own lives? God is not mean to us. He loves us with a love that we have yet to fully understand. God is out to do us good and while He is plucking away at these things and we are screaming and in pain, He?s saying, "I'm going to bring gold out of this. It's going to be good. Don't you see, when I level a thing I have to go clear to the foundation so that it might be established for My purposes?"
God is calling His leaders apart today in a variety of ways. The responsibility of laity during this great sifting of leaders is to pray for them and to love them. There isn't anything more difficult that God could ask us to do because we want to transfer a sense of responsibility for our lives to leaders. If they fall, we feel that our trust in them has been misplaced and that makes us angry. But we can rise beyond that and recognize that this is a most difficult time for them as God works to bring forth His gold in their lives.
Those who have been a greater blessing to the church are the most often attacked by the enemy for he wants to silence them. Unfortunately, occasionally, we help him along. Sometimes allowing a leader to fail is the only way God has of revealing to that person his weakness. He expects the body to be strong enough to know this and to be strong on behalf of the leader.
Verse 20 reveals a lethargy that causes a fatalistic attitude disguised by spiritual words. Sometimes in a negative situation, we say something like this: "Well, I don't know. God will just have to work it out. He is Lord." Faith, on the other hand, will say, "I know this looks negative, but I've heard from God and He is in this thing and He will bring good from it.?" Lethargy says, "Whatever will be, will be. We can't do anything about it."
God intends that we do something! Get ready! We need to so know God's Word and His voice so that even if our Bibles and tapes and books were taken from us, we could still not only feed ourselves but others as well.
God brings circumstances into our lives to reveal to us that we really don?t care; that there's not really any concern; that apathy has set in.
How long has it been since we have wept before God on behalf of someone else?
Do we wait until we receive a missionary letter before we even think of other countries?
Why don't we have a concern for what is going on elsewhere?
Are we rejoicing over open doors to countries that have been closed for years?
God's desire is for us to intercede for the nations of the world. He wants us to understand that the Body of Christ is not just in America.
Edom, in verses 21 and 22, represents all of God's enemies, and God's judgment is declared to them. Today it seems the godless are not in trouble. They are prosperous. Those who cheat make the most money. They reap great rewards from what they are doing and it seems to be unfair and unjust. But that is going to change.
There will come a day when the grace and mercy of God is going to have to be accounted for by the godless. One day God will say, "I have given to you and blessed you. I've prospered you and given you health. I have sent prophets and teachers to speak. I've given pastors and neighbors and friends to bid you come. I have declared unto you that you were born in sin and shapen in iniquity (Ps.51:5) and that I had provided a way for you to come out of that and into eternal life (Jn.3:16,17). But you would not. You have seen My righteous nature only evidenced through mercy, but now you are going to see it through judgment."
When we read in the major and minor prophets God pronouncing judgment on the godless, those who have never and will never accept Him, it is a final and eternal judgment. It is not purifying. There is a penalty for sin and they will have to pay it (Ro.6:23).
This same judgment is being declared to the godly. What is the difference? Hallelujah! "Your punishment will end!"
The psalmist cried, "Day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me" (Ps.32:4 KJV). David says, "I cried tears until I couldn't cry any more. I thought about taking wings and flying away. If I take the wings of the morning and fly anywhere, You're there. I decided I'd rather be in hell than go through this, and yet, if I make my bed in hell, You're there. There's no place to get away from You" (Ps.139:7-12). When God is purifying us, He is like the "hound of heaven" sniffing at our heels.
It is hard to get away from God. Sometimes we call it backsliding. I tried it once and every time I turned around, I found the loving arms of the Lord. At that point, I didn't appreciate Him saying He would be with me always, but I love Him for it now. When we are running from God there are always those who say we don?t deserve to go to heaven. How right they are. But we didn't deserve it before either!
Everything we ever did or will do was paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. There will never be another penalty to be paid for our sin, for Jesus declared, "It is finished" (Jn.19:30). No one killed Jesus. He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Lk.22:46). The justice and righteousness of Father God was satisfied completely.
So God's judgment, no matter whose hand or voice it comes through, is like a polishing cloth on lives that are losing their luster and He must once again burnish the gold. And God will polish until His face shines in reflection upon us.
This isn't ultimate punishment. That's paid for. It is finished. This is ultimate glory!
God is setting His people free. He who has begun a good work within you will complete that work (Phil.1:6). If you will turn from the ways of the world and from your own will to the ways of the Lord, you will walk with Him through darkness without even knowing it is dark, for He is the Light of lights. You will walk with Him in the midst of privation without being deprived, for He is the source. He shall be your sword and your shield, your buckler, your light, your strength, your glory, your God.
Lamentations 5:1 – 22
1 Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.
2 Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
3 We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.
4 We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.
5 Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
6 We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.
9 We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.
10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
11 They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.
12 Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.
13 They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
14 The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
16 The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!
17 For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.
18 Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.
19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
22 But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.
Exposition of the text
Vss.1-6 – Disgraced, with all they possessed in the hands of aliens, each is alone without family to care for them. Basic essentials that once were free are now costly. Constantly pursued with no place to rest and wearied beyond measure, they sold themselves to their enemies simply to eat.
Vss.7-14 – They are reaping the results of the disobedience of their fathers. (For when fathers sin, their example to their children, what they have modeled of life, causes this next generation to follow in their steps.). Ruled by those who should be ruled over, starvation is their lot. Females are raped; princes are tortured; elders are treated as fools forced to work beyond their strength. They cannot stir up anything to bring cheer.
Vss.15-18 – Sin has robbed them of joy. It has humiliated them, drained their strength, dimmed their vision, and destroyed all that represented the presence and blessing of God. At last full comprehension of what it means to sin has dawned upon them.
Has our understanding been so enlightened?
Do we still believe that the pleasure of sin is worth it?
Are we always planning to turn from it tomorrow?
Can we not comprehend that the momentary happiness of our own way and the fulfilling of our
desires our way, are nets that will entangle, trap and imprison?
There can be no other end.
Vs.19 – Recognition of God for Who He is truly comes to them. He is the Sovereign Ruler over all, forever. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever? (Heb.13:8).
Our revelation of God is not what we know about Him, but what we have personally experienced. What His Word reveals that He was, He is. What He is, He will be. Oh, the delight of knowing the unchangeableness of our Lord yet, the unsearchable riches to be found in ongoing revelation.
Vss.20, 21 – This revelation of God stirs the longing to be restored to Him. Their cry is not for prosperity, ease or possessions, but to be brought back to Him. Without Him, nothing has meaning or value.
Vs.22 – With true recognition of Who God is, the desire to be His alone fans a little spark of faith which will not accept that there is no hope. Assurance they lack, but they reach in hope to the mercy of their God.
Lessons we can learn
We have seen that when nations are under the dealings of God Christians are strengthened and polished so that true judgment revealing the righteous nature of God Himself may come to the godless. This is one key to understanding this Book of Lamentations. You might study Hebrews 12 to unlock truth, and certainly to see this book as "a cry of Jesus Christ" would be another key.
In chapter 3 the cry is: "I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath." Exodus 12 reveals this in the Passover meal as the lamb was to be roasted with fire and no water added; that is, nothing to water it down or dilute the force of the fire. Jesus endured the wrath of God the Father completely. This should open the book to further exciting revelation.
Each chapter is a poem complete in itself and independent of the others. All were probably written at the same time with the author returning to the scene of the ruins over and over, viewing the destruction from different perspectives. While chapters 1 through 4 are alphabetic acrostics in which each verse begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, chapter 5 is not an acrostic or a poetic elegy, but a prayer. It is a request for God to remember and consider them, viewing their present state with an eye to restoration – which has always been God's desire (Ac.3:21).
The writer reiterates the problems that have come upon them. They have lost their inheritance and were abandoned with no care. They had difficulty in securing a living and were constantly pursued by the occupational army which gave them no rest.
In verse 6, they acknowledge they have submitted to the ways of Assyria and Egypt which is a type of the world. Assyria was one of the least godly nations that ever existed and God used this nation from time to time to punish His children. It was said the Assyrian king was so wicked that he was known to enjoy his meals with the heads of those who had just recently been decapitated! While that may seem barbaric, sadly people today adapt in the same measure to the ways and concepts of the world, though perhaps veneered by cultural sophistication.
We bear the sins of our fathers (vs.7), not in the sense of being accountable for them but when sin reigns in a father's life(style), no matter what he says, the child will pick it up and live in it too and so must bear the punishment for the same sinfulness. We are not victimized by the sins of our parents, but unfortunately much of our religious teaching has allowed us to walk in the same ways.
This is why Jesus prayed for Father to sanctify us by His truth (Jn.17:17). Jesus wants us to be set free from religious tradition and filial lifestyle patterns, and to come into His revelation of truth. He is truth (Jn.14:6).
As the writer goes back over these difficulties, we see how much of it is paralleled in today?s society. The responsibilities of business conglomerates and nations are being placed in the hands of youth (vs.8) and they are staggering under the load. He goes on to speak of hunger, rape and abuse, princes dethroned and elders disrespected, the joy and beauty of their crowning glory is lost and there is no temple in Zion.
But there is a glimmer of hope. "We have sinned." Repentance is always a glimpse of salvation, of hope. This prodigal nation begins to think of Father.
Can we see our nation in this same light? We have known more of the blessings of God than any other nation. We have known tremendous prosperity without dependence on other nations. We have played Santa Claus to the rest of the world with great delight. But we haven?t realized that our wealth and wisdom came from God Almighty and in our lifetime we have come to see that our nation, apart from God, is no different from any other nation.
In the name of equal rights, we have allowed eastern religions to infiltrate our country. They have had freedom to build their temples in our cities without money, without tax responsibilities, in the name of being churches. We have allowed them to penetrate our school systems from the college level right down into our grade schools and we have done this in the name of being fair to everyone.
We are proud of our constitution that gives freedom of religion. The enemy saw this as the very path across the Red Sea – in other words, a way into the Promised Land. He came in right across the path God had made for us and we were not wise enough to stretch out our rod of authority and close the waters, so we left the way open for the enemy to come in and he has done it.
Now, in the name of equal rights, we even have a third sex in our nation. We recognize male, female, and homosexual. But things that sound right aren't always right. God says, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Pr.14:12 KJV; 16:25).
We must be careful that we don?t let attitudes called ?Christian? divert us into a pagan presentation of Christ. We must move into spiritual reality. The gospel is good news. Jesus is the good news. We must know His truth and find out what is error. If we begin to stand for truth – not our opinion of the Word – and stand in truth – the Word of God – we will be light for others who are in confusion.
There was a time in the Christian world when everything was spelled out as to the difference between sin and salvation. But it began to be mixed, sometimes depending on what church we attended or in what area of the country we lived. The issues became so clouded, until today, because of our laxness in pursuing the truth, what once was called sin is totally acceptable in our households.
This is not to build a case against our nation, but to awaken the great sleeping giant. The hope that our nation has is for the Christians to awaken and recognize our responsibility to stand before the country today and say, "This is the way; walk in it?" (Is.30:21).
But we were much like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Spiritually speaking, we went to Father and said, "Give us everything You have for us." It's a bit amazing but He answered that prayer. He poured out His Spirit on all flesh. We demanded teachers and he raised them up all over the nation, and when we got hold of His truth we threw it to the winds. We put no price tag on it. We laid hands on absolutely everyone so they could say they had the language of the Holy Spirit.
It wasn't too long before we had squandered everything we had. We gave it all away. We didn't have anything new. We were down to husks! Who would eat husks? Not sheep. So the church lost her beauty, a duplicate of what we have read in Lamentations or in Luke. We have given and given and given and just thrown it out, freely giving to everyone in the name of "fair" and "Christian" until we had nothing left to give. And then they said, "We don't want you any more." What a tragedy!
There is a cry in the Body of Christ, "Surely, God, there must be more to life than this." This is the cry of one who is empty. We are so empty we cannot get filled on the bits and pieces that are being thrown to us and we are attempting to survive rather than live an abundant life. Jesus promised us abundant living in John 10:10. But how long has it been since we believed ourselves to be living an overflowing life?
There needs to come an awakening. It happens in this chapter of Lamentations. It opens with a request for remembrance. "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn form their wicked ways, then will I hear form heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2Chr.7:14).
Let us wake up and cry out to God for our land. The enemy has blinded the church of God by saying, "You are godly. You are more righteous than any other nation. You're a Christian nation. On your money it says, 'In God We Trust.' Don't worry about anything and if you?re not perfect, you are better than anyone else."
May the blindfolds be removed from our eyes. May we face sin as it is, first in our own lives and then among us as the people of God. Let us reckon with it before God, not in criticism or faultfinding but may we say as did the Old Testament saints, ?We have done this. Forgive us."
That doesn't sound like the pretense of piety we hear so often today from our own lips, "I pray for the church that THEY?? We need the compassion of the heart of God in us that says, "Lord, I'm one with them. They are my family. If one sins, I must relate to that sin. O God, save us."
How little we know of the true Body: hurting with those who hurt, rejoicing with those who rejoice. But the Bible says that if one member of the body hurts, we all hurt, whether we know it or not (1Cor.12:26; Ro.12:15).
So, the cry comes. "We have sinned." The prodigal son wanted to be restored but he didn't have faith for full restoration. He did have faith for the restoration of his condition but not his position. He awakened to his situation and said, ?This is ridiculous. Once I had food and shared it with those who were like-minded; now I'm feeding pigs and they're getting more than I have."
We cannot exist on what we once had. We need fresh bread, fresh oil. The prodigal believed that he could get back to the family, but didn't believe he could get back in the family again.
Some have been convinced that because they failed the Lord in some way, they can never again have what they once knew. They believe they will go to heaven and that Jesus is with them now and that they can move in some dimension of the Spirit, but cannot conceive that God's will for them is good and acceptable and perfect now. God wants to set us free to be fully restored not only in condition but in our position as well.
The psalmist in Psalm 23 believes for restoration of soul. We are spirit, soul, and body. The spirit of man is the breath of God breathed into him. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in our spirits. The soul is the seat of intellect and emotions and the body connects us with the earth. The world has subtly reversed it to body, soul and spirit. The first name as used in the Scripture usually shows precedence over the other. First it was Barnabas and Saul but soon we see Paul and Barnabas, etc.
If you are body, soul and spirit, you are making a public testimony that your body motivates your soul. Isn't that exactly what we see in the world? The seat of the intellect, the soul, thirsts for whoever controls it. If the body controls it, it wants everything sensual or lustful. But if the spirit controls, the Holy Spirit has come in and dwells there and that soul thirsts for God, as the deer pants after the water brook (Ps.42:1). When the spirit is in control, the body is kept in subjection.
When David's sin was made public by Nathan the prophet, David repented and cried, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" (Ps.51:12 KJV). There are some who need to cry this today. They work so hard at serving God that they've lost the joy of His salvation. The need is to quit working and start breathing.
The prodigal only wanted to be restored to a servant's position but Israel in Lamentations cries, "Restore us to Yourself, O Lord. Bring us back, not to what we once had, but first bring us back to Thee." Nothing short of this will satisfy. The longing and thirsting within will never be satisfied with only blessings, not even with usefulness. It will never be satisfied again with the gifts flowing through the life or even people picking fruit from it. These things, as wonderful as they are, will never satisfy again, for God has placed a hunger and thirst within us for Himself.
It is time for us to lay aside our "shopping list" in prayer and come to the Lord with desire, saying, "Lord, I have a longing in my heart for Jesus. I want to know You as I have never known You. I want to know You as Your Word reveals you. I've missed something through the years. Don?t let go of me until I am restored to the fullness of the hunger You have placed within me." When that becomes reality, then we can desire to know the fullness of blessing.
What has been the highest spirituality in our lives? God intended that to be the lowest peak of our Christian walk from then on. We chart a graph of our Christian lives with mountains and valleys but God has planned for one of continual growth and climbing until we come to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ; until Christ be formed in us; until we become mature sons of God; until we become the object of the Father's love by marrying the Son (Eph.4:13; Gal.4:19; Rev.19:7).
Often we prolong that process by our highs and lows. We get too content with what He gave us and settle there. Then He must shake us with difficulties and adversity so that spot becomes a valley we want to leave, and we start climbing again.
We will never exhaust the grace of God and his revelation. No matter how much we know and have experienced there is still more, an endless unfolding throughout eternity. Therefore, we need to cry for the Lord to restore us, and when He brings us to the position He intended us to have, then our cry can continue, ?Reveal unto us Yourself for that which we have known is more glorious than we thought and we desire more.?
Isaiah 30:18 declares: "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" God's grace prepares us for His mercy. He cannot restore a person – or nation – who continues in rebellion and sin, but His promised restoration is to those who repent in faith and obey.
The prodigal son in Luke 15 was fully restored by his father. He received a robe befitting his family's position, a ring of authority, sandals that he might walk in peace. Food was prepared to celebrate his return, and joy filled the heart of both father and son.
Our certainty is that God's throne is eternal. In this day of fluctuation and change we are often filled with frustration. Just about the time we get everything mapped out as a pattern of life, something changes and we have to start again. But there is One who changes not, God who was and is and always will be (Rev.11:17).
Being a Christian does not immunize me from the judgment of God, but qualifiesK/em> me to receive that judgment in mercy. Prior to each new revelation, outpouring of the Spirit, and revival, there is the judgment of the saints. The purpose then becomes obvious – it is necessary and preparatory. How wonderful to realize that even when we pray for that which we are unable to contain or handle, our Father grants the petition, and withholds its fulfillment while He prepares us to receive it.
Today we are extremely mindful of the dealings of God for they are evident everywhere we look in individuals, churches, and para-church organizations. Let us then in honesty and knowledge rejoice in these testings for we are about to behold the glory of God as was seen only with the eye of faith by the prophets of old. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee?" (is.60:1 KJV).
Earthly rulers rise and fall. But we have One seated on a throne who is eternal in nature, around who is an emerald rainbow (Rev.4:3) which is the promise of God. It's the covenant relationship effected by the Lamb, looking as though He had been slain, who stands there as well.
Why is He by the throne? Because when we approach the heavenlies and see the great throne of God and we see God, not according to our concepts of what others have said, but seeing Him as He is in all of His glory and splendor; when we see God flowing out as a mighty crystal river (Rev.22), when we see Him in His purity, and His streets made of finest gold, everything in us will shrink from Him in terror and fear and instantly we will see the Lamb and He will invite us to remember that it is through Him that we may come boldly and receive whatever we need.
Although this book does close with the language of hope, it is not very apparent at the first reading and many Hebrew manuscripts repeat verse 21 at the end. So, too, may we cry once again, "Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old."