Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1
Leading Up to this Era
This is my third posting on the Old Testament. First I wrote on the observation that majority of the Old Testament is made up of five multigenerational stories which I’ve called Grasping the Old Testament. First, God promises Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that through them both a nation and also a blessing to all the nations would come. After a 400 gap the story picks up with Moses and Joshua leading the nation out of bondage, setting up a new society, and entering into the land of promise. The next 400 years is told in Judges when the nation seams stuck in cycles of oppression, repentance, deliverance, and peace, until backsliding into sin started the cycle over again. This cycle was disrupted by three generations of advance with Samuel, David and Solomon, which I entitled The Very First Great Awakening. Following Solomon a stable society continues until Jerusalem is destroyed and Judah is taken captive to Babylon. God speaking through His prophets usually speaks to His people, He also often references the present younger generation as the daughter of My people and when judgment comes it falls upon a group God calls not My people.
Under Solomon the temple is built and both glory and fire fall from heaven. This is the great awakening generation where godly wisdom becomes dominant in the culture. Into this awakened culture the daughters of my people are introduced as the daughters of Jerusalem. The daughters seem to be spiritually single, in that they haven’t yet decided to marry but are looking for a spiritual husband. In the Song of Solomon we observed Shulamite as one who is deeply in love and the response of the daughters is to rejoice and follow the bride to that committed place of “loving the Lord more then wine”, wine being symbolic of the best that is produced “under the sun”. Now as we move into Isaiah, Jeremiah, and to a conclusion in Lamentation we find a different story.
Isaiah – A Form of Godliness
Isaiah’s generation is more than two hundred years after Solomon’s. When Solomon died the nation split in two, Israel immediately become unfaithful, while Judah remained mostly faithful. All but about 40 of those years Judah has kings that are considered righteous and often God quickly removed evil Kings from the throne. The book of Isaiah begins with a word of the Lord concerning God’s displeasure at external religion but their hearts are not right.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies; I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Isaiah 1:11-15
Israel, like the Church at times had lost its first love. Instead of loving “His love more than wine”, she has settled into a routine of weekly worship, duty, and service. She has only an outward form of godliness, but not the power to attract the next generation of searching ones, and keep them. So how does the youth group respond and where are the searchers looking? First in Isaiah 1:8 is a prophetic picture of the daughters of Zion being abandoned like a city under attack. The protection of those who dwell in the secret place has been lifted off. The enticements of the world and traps of the enemy are more effective. Then in Isaiah 3:16 the Lord says: “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with outstretched necks And wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, Making a jingling with their feet”. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. Not finding a true expression of the ultimate love relationship that satisfies, the young make themselves more available and put on worldly ways to attract something better then the emptiness of another generations half hearted religion.
Jeremiah – Idolatry
About 50 years after Isaiah’s ministry ended Jeremiah’s began. The nation had gone from dead religion to the rejection of God and His ways.
Thus says the LORD: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, That they have gone far from Me, Have followed idols, And have become idolaters? The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit. “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “And against your children’s children I will bring charges. Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, And be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the LORD. “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns; broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:5,8,9,11-13
These people still were religious, the priest and prophets still functioned but not in sincerity. So lets look at what the daughter of these idolatrous people were up against.
Because from the least even to the greatest everyone is given to covetousness; From the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:10-11
They are no longer a looking for love, these kids are just trying to survive. The sins of their parents have manifested on them. They are hurting and lonely, but their parent’s generation answers don’t solve their problems.
It seems that the gospel of my generation has had little impact upon this current generation. Our gospel has said – “Just ask Jesus into your heart and you will be saved.” Some try this but it only heals their hurt slightly because our presentation of the gospel doesn’t penetrate to the core of our being. We have forgotten or rejected the true powerful gospel that transforms lives. We love this world, and the comfort and ease that the things of the world provide, so we leave out of our messages the denying of self, taking up our cross, dying to sin, and power to live holy lives. We don’t live that part, so how can we preach it without ridicule. Our schools had the 10 Commandments removed by law, while our Churches have rejected the law as our schoolmaster that leads to Christ.
Upon the daughter of my people in Jeremiah’s day severe judgment is prophesied.
…A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness Toward the daughter of My people; Not to fan or to cleanse; Jeremiah 4:11
…The voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself; She spreads her hands, saying, ‘Woe is me now, for my soul is weary Because of murderers!’ Jeremiah 4:31
Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and try them; For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people? 8 Their tongue is an arrow shot out; It speaks deceit; One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, But in his heart he lies in wait. Jeremiah 9:7-8
“How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me And sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, Then they committed adultery And assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; Every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Jeremiah 5:7-9
Jeremiah saw this severe judgment coming and called out warnings, wept and cried over a generation that had so rejected the Lord that in their gross sin, ...they were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; In the time of their punishment They shall be cast down,” says the LORD. Jeremiah 8:12
Judah had mostly righteous kings from David through Isaiah’s life, but in the final century six of the seven kings did evil in the sight of the Lord. It took three generations of advance to fully awaken the culture, followed by a long period of righteousness, peace and prosperity. It was only after a three generational decline that final judgment came.
Where is our nation in this cycle? Our nation was founded by the children of the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening came in the middle of the 19th Century. Righteousness was a solid basis in the culture until the 1960’s when a generation rose up and rejected their parent’s beliefs. So we have had 40 years of overall decline in righteousness. As a nation we are sliding quickly towards a position of judgment before God, but a deep and powerful turning that not only awakens the Church but affects the culture is critically needed to hold back this judgment.
Lamentations – Judgment has come
There comes a point when the culture becomes so dominated by the enemy that the most compassionate thing the Lord can do is to severely judge the culture and start over with a remnant.
Jerusalem has sinned gravely, therefore she has become vile. All who honored her despise her because they have seen her nakedness; yes, she sighs and turns away. 9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny. Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. “O LORD, behold my affliction, For the enemy is exalted! Lamentations 1:8-9
When a culture reaches this point the next generation is almost without hope.
…My children are desolate Because the enemy prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16
How shall I console you? To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is spread wide as the sea. who can heal you? Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not uncovered your iniquity, To bring back your captives, But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.Lamentations 2:13-14
My hope is that we will be stirred deeply over the rampant sin in our culture, cry out for the Church to return to our first love and quit embracing everything under the sun. Let’s pray that God would raise up prophetic evangelists to preach the gospel with power that will transform lives. Let’s take a stand between the sin of our culture and the holiness of God and ask for mercy and grace. Have we seen a Samuel generation that has restored the prophetic gifts the church? Is our current generation like David’s building a tabernacle of day and night prayer? May the Lord raise up a generation of David’s and his mighty men who will defeat our enemies, bring the worship of God back to the center of our culture. May we or our children / grandchildren carry on that revival deep into the institutions of culture until our television, movies, music and people tell and demonstrate His love as being the only thing that satisfies.