A Compassion For Those Who Are Lost and Backslidden

When Handel’s servant used to bring him his chocolate in the morning, “he often stood silent with astonishment to see his master’s tears mixing with the ink as he penned his composition.” And it is related that a friend, calling upon the great musician when in the … More

Compassion

Jeremiah responded to the news of the Babylonian invasion by crying out in anguish. His heart pounded and he could not keep silent as he thought of the approaching battle and the disaster it would bring Judah (vv. 19-21). He concluded that the people of Judah were fools and had no understanding of the way of righteousness which they should have been following (v. 22). A graphic, poetic description is given by the prophet as to the destruction of the land (vv. 23-26). Archaeological excavations have shown that every one of the cities that existed in Jeremiah’s day were completely destroyed. This is more than a simple picture of the invasion. It is also a picture of the devastation man brings upon himself when he rebels against God’s purpose for his life.

Though the whole land would be ruined as God judged the people, He still promised that He would not destroy it completely (v. 27). As the armies approached Judah, the people in every town fled to avoid being killed. They hid in the thickets and among the rocks (vv. 28-29) hoping not to be apprehended by the soldiers. The term “lovers” refers to the foreign powers with whom the Jews maintained diplomatic relations, in particular the Babylonians, who woo Judah and Jerusalem only to destroy them. In contrast the people of Jerusalem made two vain attempts to persuade God to call off His judgment (v. 30). (1) They tried to dress themselves in scarlet and jewels of gold but didn’t have a compassionate heart. (2) They made a pitiful cry for help, but, it came after the day of options had passed. His sermon opened up with the warning: “Flee for safety.” It closed with the cry of death: “Woe is me now for my soul fainteth before murderers” (v. 31).

Application

Jeremiah had a big heart of compassion as he cried out in anguish for those who are away from God and about to face judgment. I want to have more compassion for those who are lost and backslidden.

Jeremiah 4:19-31 (English Standard Version)

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Crash follows hard on crash; the whole land is laid waste. Suddenly my tents are laid waste, my curtains in a moment. How long must I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet? "For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are 'wise'--in doing evil! But how to do good they know not." I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger. For thus says the LORD, "The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end. "For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark; for I have spoken; I have purposed; I have not relented, nor will I turn back." At the noise of horseman and archer every city takes to flight; they enter thickets; they climb among rocks; all the cities are forsaken, and no man dwells in them. And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life. For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor, anguish as of one giving birth to her first child, the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands, "Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers."

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