As I sit here reading through the book of Lamentations this morning, one word comes to mind- “holiness.” Here Jeremiah is weeping over the destruction he sees in Jerusalem. The city that was once known for it’s beauty- Lamentations 2:15, is now destroyed. He is an eyewitness to everything that is taking place, after 40 years of warning the Israelites of future judgment if they refused to repent. Message after message, he delivered faithfully; only to be mocked and imprisoned. He is crying, “My eyes overflow with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. My eyes flow and do not cease, without interruption”- Lamentations 3:48-49. It reminds me of when Jesus wept over seeing the sin and destruction within His community- Luke 19:41-44. God gets angry at sin and He deals justly. In His grace, He gives us warnings. In His grace, He gives us time to repent. But in His love, He allows us to make a choice. And in His love, we reap the consequences of our decisions.
I do not have any children, but I love watching parents raise their kids. I’ve served in youth ministry for years, and in working with the youth a person recognizes quickly the hard work of godly parenting. The amount of time parents invest in their children is huge. The parents may not see the fruit of their labor, but others will. Children learn so much from not only listening to their parents, but watching their parents actions. No parent is perfect; that would be boring. But as parents seek to honor God in the way they raise their kids, the world sees the light of Jesus Christ- Matthew 5:16.
The goal for every Christian parent is to train their child in holiness. To be set apart from the world, living life sold out for Jesus Christ. As Proverbs 22:6 NKJV says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” When I was younger, my parents taught my siblings and I the Word of God. When we grew older and needed to make decisions, they would give us their advice and guidance but would always point us back to the Word of God. What was God telling us to do? We made the decision, and we suffered the consequence if it was a bad decision or we reaped the joy and blessings if it was a good decision. We learned how to hear the voice of the Lord. We learned how to take responsibility for our own actions. I see my siblings doing that with their children also. Training in holiness. Lamentations 3:27 speaks of the good that comes with disciplinary training, during one’s youth. Learning submission, first and foremost to God- Lamentations 3:29. The goal is to draw people to Jesus in right discipline; or else you will drive them away in defeat and despair. Godly discipline should never be defeating. We have a Savior who rescued all from defeat, through His death and resurrection. His unconditional love displayed on the cross. His unconditional forgiveness. And as my mom would always tell us kids, “God’s mercies are new every morning”- Lamentations 3:23. His unconditional mercy shown in His actions.
In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah is broken-hearted over the destruction of Jerusalem caused by their rebellion to God. In the youth of the nation, God trained them in holiness. Eight times in Scripture, God declares, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Six of those verses show up in the book of Leviticus, the book of Holiness. In Leviticus, God trained the nation to be set apart from the idolatrous nations; to be obedient to Him in every aspect of life. Obedience to God equals the abundant life. But in the book of Jeremiah, the Israelites mocked God’s holiness and chose their man-made gods over Him. And then in the book of Lamentations we see them suffering the repercussions of their sin and rebellion.
God is serious about holiness. Before He told the nation to “be holy, for I am holy,” God said, “For I am the LORD your God.” Why should we live a holy life? It’s simple. Because God is our LORD, He is holy, and He commands us to. Here in Lamentations, Jeremiah acknowledges, “You, O LORD, remain forever; Your throne from generation to generation”- 5:19 NKJV. God is on the throne, we are not. God will always be on the throne! Whenever the bible shows God on the throne, there are either seraphim or the four living creatures crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD…”- Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8. God is holy. In His holiness, He is just. But the beautiful thing, in His holiness He is also merciful. Jeremiah knew God’s character. Even in the nation’s rebellious sin, reaping God’s wrath, he prayed for God to show mercy; interceding for their restoration. He knew there was still hope. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!'”- Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV. Jeremiah then concludes the book with a prayerful plea filled with godly sorrow- Lamentations 5:21-22. God is a forgiving God, He doesn’t stay angry forever- Psalm 103:9. Redemption is found in the repentant. He always restores repentant hearts.
In His merciful love, God was moved to action. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all of our sins, so that we would have the hope of heaven; eternity with Him forever.
Will you pray with me?
Abba! Thank You for training us in holiness, to be set apart from the world. Jesus is coming back and we want to be ready. I lift up all of the parents today who are raising their children in holiness, teaching them to love You Lord with all of their heart soul and mind, and to love their neighbor as themselves. Encourage their hearts today to press on. You see their diligence, You see their hard work, You see how they simply want to honor You Lord in raising their children. Praying, Lord, that Your people would remember that Your mercies are new every morning. Jesus defeated death on the cross so that we would not have to live in defeat. Thank You! Today, I pray that the love parents have for their children would grow. Lord, would You open their eyes to the gifts You have given their child and would they seek to want to help their child use their gifts for Your glory. Would the world see the love of a Christian parent and be drawn to You? Sometimes, it is too easy to see the flaws of one we know so well. So Lord, would You open the eyes of parents to see what their child is good at? Praying parents would have a right balance of godly discipline with godly affirmation. Lord, I also lift up those who are “spiritual parents” or those who are longing to be a parent, would You meet them right where they are at with a word for their heart, and an encouragement to not give up praying. And for those that do not know You, I’m praying for surrendered hearts today; for eyes to be opened to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is ready to welcome them with open arms. We love You so much! In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.