Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is it nothing to you?

I'm reading through Lamentations at present. Maybe not one of the usual books people read or study, but I felt it was the natural follow-on to my study in Jeremiah. After all, it may well have been written by Jeremiah. But even if not, it is part of the Scriptures, and describes the thoughts of those left behind in Jerusalem after the prophecy of Jeremiah, after the fall of the city under Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.

A particularly poignant verse is found in 1:12:

'"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger."'

Jerusalem is in ruins, having been destroyed by the invading armies. The pride of Israel, even the joy of the whole earth (Ps 48:2) lies in ruins.

Israel was on one of the ancient trading routes, between Egypt and the rest of the world. Think of the traders who took Joseph and sold him in Egypt. That's why it was so important in the wider empire games of the bigger nations. If you controlled Israel, you had the trade routes. So Egypt always thought it important. The Philistines wanted it. The Edomites wanted it. And when Babylon came on the scene, it wanted Israel and Judah too - as a frontier land against the great enemy of Egypt.

And the plaintive cry arises from Jerusalem - is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? You traders and soldiers and whoever else you are - do you not care that Jerusalem has been destroyed? This is a great tragedy for the Jews, yet the rest of the world is not concerned. It couldn't give a stuff.

Now, should anyone else actually care about Jerusalem, then the rest of the verse gives us food for thought - an admission from the Jews about what had happened. A realistic appraisal of their situation. Yes, their sorrow is great - worse than any other sorrow. But where did it come from?

The LORD inflicted it 0n the day of his fierce anger. Outsiders looking at the situation could only see the invading army - the rather successful invading army. Obviously the Babylonians were more powerful. Or maybe their gods were stronger or better or wiser than the gods of Jerusalem?

Not at all! The fall of Jerusalem, the city of God, was permitted by that YAHWEH, the God of Israel. But why? Surely God fights for his people?

We fnid the answer, simply stated in verse 18. 'The LORD is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word.' Such a simple statement, yet it covers the period of Israelite history from Moses to Jeremiah. So, for example, even before they entered the land, Moses told the Israelites that their residency depended on their continued obedience. Just check out Leviticus 26- 'If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will...' (Lev 26:3-13), 'but if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments... then I will do this to you...' (Lev 26:14-45).

The verse has also been applied by Christians throughout the church to Jesus on the cross - abandoned and rejected of men, bearing our sins and sorrows. However, the author of the Welwyn Commentary from Evangelical Press argues that we shouldn't use the verse in connection with our Lord. I don't entirely agree, and so will leave you with the question:

'Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?'


  1. Hey...just wondering if you ever got your hands on my uncle Fred's book by this title?

    You can check it out here:

    It was his second last book, although the last book he saw in print before he died. His very last one was published some time back in the autumn. It's called "The Hand of God - The Comfort of Having a Sovereign God".

    I haven't actually read, or even seen this one yet, but you can check out what someone (a random person really) wrote about it here:

    A wee article about Uncle Fred can be found at:

    Aren't you just loving my advertising this time?



  2. Hi Primrose! Thanks for the comments.

    I was actually thinking of your uncle Fred when I was writing the posting, because I have read the book. As always, it was a good, thought-provoking read, and did my heart good!

    I haven't got his last one yet, but will do in the near future. And I'll also visit all those links you have provided!!!