Thursday, January 30, 2014

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN (Part 2)

(Scroll down below this post to read Part 1)

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah is commonly called “the weeping prophet.” The reason for this is that in his writings, he often expresses a deep sorrow that he feels.

It was Jeremiah who said, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night!” (Jeremiah 9:1)

Jeremiah by Rembrandt
Why did Jeremiah weep? I could turn to multiple passages in his book that indicates why, but here is an example:


My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.

Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and breadth of the land:

“Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?”

“Why have they provoked me to anger with their carved images and with their foreign idols?”

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. (Jeremiah 8:18-21, ESV)



Jeremiah was not the only Old Testament prophet who mourned for his people. Daniel also felt this ache of heart. In fact, it was largely because of the writings of Jeremiah that Daniel experienced his own sorrow. Daniel wrote:


Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God…we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (Daniel 9:3-6, ESV)



I am going to quote only one more prophet, although you can turn to almost any of the Old Testament prophets and find in their writings words of mourning and lamentation for their rebellious people. This time it is the words of Micah we read.

After summarizing the sins of his people Micah says, “For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem” (Micah 1:8-9, ESV).

In these cases and many others in the Old Testament, the true followers of God were in mourning for their people. They were a people who once knew the Lord but had strayed far away from him and held to other teachings - teachings of the world.



As we return to the New Testament, we see that this type of mourning also continued with these writers. The Apostle Paul was heart broken by the activities that were taking place within some of the churches that he had established.

The church that was in the city of Corinth was the worst example to what depths some of the churches had fallen so early after their establishment. Paul rebukes the people there, saying “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles.”

In this case, the immorality did not come in exactly the same form as the people for whom the Old Testament prophets mourned, but at the heart of the matter, it was the same. It was rebellion against their God.

Paul’s rebuke to the church was that they had just seemed to accept this new standard of morality. Paul scolded them for not taking action against it, but even before that, he reprimanded them because they did not mourn over the situation. “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Corinthians 5:2, ESV).

Paul later expressed a concern that he had for when he would eventually again visit them. “I fear that when I come again… I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced” (2 Corinthians 12:21, ESV).

I earlier spoke of James instructing us to mourn. When when he does so, it is not because of the sin that still may exist in our own lives. For these sins the proper response is that we repent and then are forgiven.
           Rather, James instructs us to mourn for the lost communion with God among the people of the church. Before calling us to mourn and to weep, he gives the reason for doing so:


What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel…You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4, ESV)



Today in our own nation, many are acting politically and socially to fight against a standard of morality that they see as going against the teachings of God. They are taking legal action, and acting in the media and otherwise to awaken people to return our culture to Godly standards.
          They may be correct in doing so. It may be needed. However, before all of this, we are first called to mourn over our situation.

We hear many calls for action. We are urged to write our government representatives, to sign petitions and to protest. Almost every day we are called to "repost" something on Facebook.
          All of this may be fine, but where is the call to mourn? This, before anything else, is the pattern given to us in Scripture. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”


2 comments:

  1. Our people have lost their true love for our Great and Awesome King and there seems to be little to no awareness of how our actions and decisions affect Him and His heart. Thank you for sounding the call to repentance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree. Political solutions can only go so far, and not very far at that. It takes a heart change

    ReplyDelete