Judgement and Mercy

By Not Known

Lamentations 5 is a plea to God – Who has brought grief and judgement to His people, but will also restore them to Himself when their sufferings have led them to cast themselves under His mercy (vv 21- 22). It reiterates the hope that God will again be gracious to His people, now purified in the furnace of affliction.

Very often our first response when faced with calamities in life is to blame God and frequently become too quick in absolving ourselves from blame. While it may be overly persumptuous to say that calamities are always the result of God’s punishment for our sins, it may be equally dangerous to claim that calamities are never the consequence of our sins. It is vital that we come before God’s throne of grace and open our hearts to let Him show us through His word.

As he painfully pours out his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem, the author of Lamentations readily acknowledges that Judah is guilty before a just God by repeatedly and fatally ignoring His prophetic warnings. It was not that Jeremiah had sinned against God personally but it was his people (who were also God’s people) that had sinned against God corporately. Yet Jeremiah identifies himself with his nation as he confesses Judah’s sins while suffering together with them the resulting calamities (vv 16- 18)

However, God is no masochist. It is never His pleasure to punish His people – rebellious an guilty though they may be. Indeed, it is painful for God’s fatherly heart as He grieves over our disobedience and sins. When God inflicts punishment, it is for His people to turn back to Him. It is a call for our repentance – either from our individual or corporate sins.

God’s message to humankind is never only judgement. Together with judgement is a call to repentance, so that we may return to God and be restored by Him. This is in essence what the Gospel is.

For us living under the new covenant, God has given Christ to die and atone for our sins. Jesus is God’s only way for us to return to Him (Jn 14: 6). The sinless Jesus has taken upon Himself the judgement meant for us, sinners (2 Cor 5: 21). By casting ourselves beneath the Cross of God’s mercy, we are pardoned and given the power to live anew – both individually and corporately.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5: 8). If God has convicted us and we do not repent, “how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb 2: 3)