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Things Are Not Like They Used to Be

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

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The book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah who was known as "the weeping prophet."

If you think you have something to lament and weep about, read the short book of Lamentations with emphasis on Chapter 5.

Whatever you are going through, it is pale in comparison to the prophet's situation at the time.

Condition of Jerusalem

When Jeremiah wrote the book, Jerusalem has been completely destroyed by the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Their precious possessions had been plundered. Many Jews had been killed. Some were taken into slavery by the Babylonians. Others were taken into slavery by the Assyrians.

Jeremiah was given the choice to go into slavery or to stay behind with a remnant. Since he chose to stay behind, God commanded him to purchase a field for the captured whenever they returned.

Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet

Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet

Jeremiah's Prayer

Lamentations 5 is actually a prayer to God about the situation in Jerusalem because the holy city was no longer like it once was. The prayer can be divided into two distinct parts.

  1. In the first part, Jeremiah asks God to remember (Lamentations 5:1).
  2. In the second part, Jeremiah asks God to restore Jerusalem to the way it used to be (Lamentations 5:21).

In the first part of the prayer, Jeremiah lamented over the terrible way things were going after the holy city was destroyed and people went into captivity. The city was desolate with a remnant. They had lost the land God promised to them when they were in the wilderness.

They now had to buy water that was once free. They had to sneak to cut their own wood. Otherwise, they could have been killed by the enemies' swords. They had to submit to their enemies just to get bread to sustain them. They were forced to work from sunrise until sunset without being allowed to rest.

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Reasons Things Weren't As They Used to Be

In Lamentations 5:7, Jeremiah did not beat around the bush. He came right out and called it as it was.

"Our ancestors sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment."

In other words, the current Jews were reaping the consequences of the iniquities of their ancestors who were no longer alive. The relatives had sinned for many generations until sin caught up with their offspring. The new generations were paying for the sins of their forefathers.

From Lamentations 5:8 through 5:18, Jeremiah continued to list all of the ways things were different. The city was left with widows, widowers, and orphans. Things had changed so much that slaves were now masters and ruled over them. Enemies were raping their women and young girls. Princes were being hanged and the elders were abused. Young men were forced to grind at the mills and boys were compelled to carry loads so heavy that they staggered under the weight.

The elders who used to sit at the city gates and talk among themselves were not allowed to do so. The young people no longer danced and sang because joy had left their hearts and they found nothing to be joyful about.

"Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning" (Lamentations 5:15).

The people were unhappy about the way things had turned out. In fact, they were sick and weary. Their promised land was not like it used to be. The holy city was now empty and desolate with jackals walking around instead of happy people. The wild animals had more freedom than the humans.

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Request to Restore

It is not until we get to the end of the prayer that we see a glimmer of hope. Jeremiah says in Verse 19, "You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation."

In the last two verses of the chapter, Jeremiah asks God to restore his beloved Jerusalem to the way it once was.

"Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected
and are angry with us beyond measure" (Lamentations 5:21-22).

Notice that Jeremiah did not ask for material things even though he and others had lost everything. He asked God to restore the city because things were not like they used to be.

Did God Answer Jeremiah's Prayer?

Jeremiah fervently prayed the two-part prayer. He admitted that his ancestors sinned and the newer generations were being punished. He prayed that God would restore Jerusalem to the happy way it used to be. Did God answer Jeremiah's prayer?

Yes, God answered Jeremiah's prayer 70 years later. In the meantime, Jeremiah wrote to the slaves in Babylon and Assyria and encouraged them to build houses and plant gardens. He told them to sing songs in the foreign land because they would be there a long time.

The slaves were eventually set free. Many of them returned to Jerusalem, but some of them chose to remain where they were. Some were too old to travel. Some were sick and too feeble to take the long walk back to Jerusalem. Some were born in captivity and never knew Jerusalem so they stayed at the only place they had known.

What Do We Learn from Lamentations 5?

When we read Lamentations 5, we get to understand why Jeremiah is known as "the weeping prophet." We learn that consequences can still come from the sins of ancestors who are no longer living.

We learn that God does answer prayers no matter how long it takes. A major thing to consider is that when we weep over something, it might not be as bad as we think when we understand what God's own people endured.

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