Harsh as this captivity sounds, we have to remember that it had been foretold long before even by Moses. It was part of a covenant promising good if they had kept His command and evil if they did not. They did chose repeatedly to do not. God warned and reminded them of the covenant repeatedly; they still did not. He showed them occasional glimpses of both blessing and curse; they did not. Jerusalem appears now as a broken harlot. Where are her many lovers now?
tsk@Lamentations:2:14 Here are numerous reminders that the Lord had exposed the false prophets to them on several occasions and yet they still listened to the others. False prophets did not end during this captivity nor did they end in the time of the early church. They remain and flourish today. They are exposed over and over and yet do we listen to them. It is in part because the true prophet discovers our inequity, in part because we are self justified and vain, in part because our image of God does not allow for Him to do this.
It is interesting now that we know more about Jeremiah how similar his lamentation is to Davids psalm. Both were in positions that you would think would be well respected and that people would gather alongside to support and comfort. Both seem almost alone. The things that the Lord had them do set much of which was on the peoples behalf set them apart and made them targets. No singular enemy mentioned but an overwhelming mass of momentum and continuum labeled as godlessness/wickedness. The prophets comfort is instead the recollection that not a thing happens that God does not set forth; the goodness God intends for us all for a long moment can appear as an evil until our hearts are completely turned. If not for these times how would our heart know? During these times how would our heart not know?
From this distance we may loose the scope of context a contemporary of Jeremiah may have sensed. One thing we now we might miss is just how impossible this all may have seemed. All of the eyes of the other nations looking on this would have known how unbreachable the defenses of Jerusalem would have been and yet they were utterly destroyed; and if Jerusalem then surely theirs. It was known to them as well that Jerusalem was the Lord's and that the Lord had not let iniquity go unpunished even/especially amongst His own. Predicted now is the fall of great Babylon, an even greater impossibility. Surely there would be the sense that if this is to happen that all of this can only be of the Lord.
The other thing we might be missing as to the real time context is just how complete and desperate the destruction is all around Jeremiah. What he is seeing at ground zero is simply unfathomable. He speaks of the destruction of Sodom to have been merciful compared to this.
He questions why it is that this must last so long, but, you will remember it was part of the promise, they had their chance to avoid it. You might also remember recently we read that not all were yet convinced that the God of Abraham was the means of proceeding forward from this, many females were blaming Jeremiah's God for not allowing them to provide drink offerings to their imaginary Queen of Heaven. The question might better be how long will it take them to get past their continuing iniquities?
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