Based on Lamentations 2:13-22
What can I say for you, to what should I compare you… Christianity’s ruin is vast as the sea; and the United States, who can heal you?! What a mess… almost seems a lost cause. But you got the prophets you were looking for, willing to give you false and deceptive visions of glory. They won’t expose your iniquity, they won’t call out your sin. But if you make their lives comfortable then they will see whatever oracle you want them to… get rich or instant gratification makes no difference… they’ll see it for you. No matter how false or misleading. Because they don’t want to be a downer, but instead will prophecy to let the good times roll, with a message of tolerating evil.
And so we are being conformed to the world. And the world hisses and wags their heads at what we have become. Persecution of the Church and the downfall of a once great nation seem to be at hand. The enemies of the Christian Church rail against you; they gnash their teeth at you, they cry: “We have swallowed her! Ah, this is the day we longed for; now we have it; we see it!” We will be swallowed up by the world or spit out by it. And so YHWH has done what He purposed, when we turn from His Word. He will throw down without pity; he will make the enemy rejoice over us and exalt the might of our foes. If you want a prophecy, a real vision of the future, that’s what it looks like, in the end of times.
Yes for our rebellion, for our unfaithfulness, for our unbelief, we would find ourselves exiled and turned over into the hands of that old evil foe. For we who stone the prophets to silence them from speaking God’s Word, or who close our ears… the Day of Judgment will soon be upon us. So let your tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite! Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Check the gates, see for yourselves, that the enemy is upon us. Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every city street. Because God will cut us down, our festivals will become terrors. Make no mistake, on the day of the anger of the LORD: no one escapes when this anger is visited upon the scorched earth… no one gets out alive. So repent, repent and turn back to God that He would relent in His mercy.
Because know this, brothers and sisters… what can I say for you, to what compare you, sons and daughters? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you? I would compare you to the most valuable buried treasure there is, that someone would sell out, give everything they had, to buy the land for this one jewel. I would compare you to a lost coin, so priceless, that someone would look for it, well into the night, and not stop until they checked into the farthest corners, and then have a celebration when it was found. I would compare you to the sheep that strayed, and the shepherd would leave the other 99 of his flock, to go after you with reckless abandon. I would liken you to the leper who decays from his incurable disease, or the one who waited by the pool until someone would take him to the water to make him well, or the dead man Lazarus as all the people scoffed when someone said He could heal him. What is your comfort? Who can heal even the dead? His name is Jesus Christ.
“And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.”
They clapped their hands at Jesus as He passed through the streets of Jerusalem… they hissed, they gnashed their teeth at Him. Christ found no respite upon the cross: blood, sweat and tears filled his eyes like a torrent. And He poured out his heart like water at the end of a spear: for you, in your place. The LORD had done what he purposed; he carried out his word, which he commanded long ago; the Son would be thrown down without pity; the enemy would be made to rejoice over the death of the Son of God and the might of these foes would be exalted. Because this sacrifice alone would be the comfort of your salvation, this body and this blood and this water alone could heal those who were dead to their sins. The enemies of sin and hell would be utterly defeated… they would not swallow him up in the tomb, but He would swallow up death itself through His own death and resurrection… the ground would shake and the rocks would split and the dead would be raised.
Because here on the cross is your comfort, the joy of all the earth! This is the love of God in full display. Where all of our terrors fade away into a day of festival… because the scandal and shame and sin of the nations is crucified and buried, that we might be raised to new life in Christ. Cities will be made great and will once again be made the perfection of beauty. Nations will be cleansed of all of their iniquities. Brothers and sisters, there is no city that cannot be healed, there is no nation that is a lost cause… because the Word of God will endure forever! Yes dear friends, even in a wicked and broken and lost nation – we still have hope. We who are baptized into Christ await the New Jerusalem that is to come and where the nations will be gathered together.
And in the mean time we will proclaim the Good News that soon, very soon, we will weep no more but sing for joy, we will hunger no more but eat at the eternal feast, we will find our rest, and our fortunes will be restored in the very riches of heaven. God will heal the cities and cleanse the nations once and for all. And on the last day… our cry in the night watch will be that Jesus is approaching as the trumpets herald His coming again and legions of angels sing for glory. And on that day… as we are lifted up into the bosom of Abraham and all things are made new before our very eyes… and all that is wicked or causes us sorrow is vanquished… and we see it all in our resurrected flesh with our own eyes… summoned to the festival that will last forever… make no mistake… on that day… on that day… it will be us… it will be us who will say “Ah, this is the day we longed for; now we have it; we see it!”