Season After Pentecost: The Old Testament Passage – When things fall apart in old Jerusalem town

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal.” (Lamentations 1:1)

When the United States was still growing and expanding, towns and cities would rise up as commerce and businesses were established. Where jobs and trade were, people would flock to. But when the reason for the growth faded away, so did the people. Jerusalem, according to the writer of Lamentations grew and expanded under the kings of the Old Testament. But when the surrounding nations invaded and made of with people and treasures, the city became barren and deserted. But like the “ghost towns” of the United States, a remnant was left behind. A remnant that held firm in the city and thrived against terrific odds and under terrible conditions. But for the writer of Lamentations, the glory was gone.

She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.” (Verse 2)

What was it like, I wonder, to have the city emptied out, and the infrastructure collapse? I am sure there are stories and books about the ghost towns in our nation. And stories and books about similar events in other nations. It seems to me it would be the people who had the resources and means who “escaped” and those left behind had no way of leaving. Or, in the instance of Jerusalem when peopled and property were taken away, those who were left were the poor and marginal.

Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations,
and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan;
her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter.” (Verses 3 – 4)

Was the writer of Lamentations one of those left behind? Or is the writer one who was taken and imagines what it must be like in the city of Jerusalem? I think the latter, because the despair in these verses seems magnified and mournful as if the writer is longing for what had been instead of describing what now is.

Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.” (Verses 5 – 6)

One could have guessed that the writer of Lamentations suggests it was the Divine who allowed this to happen. And it was the rulers and elders who failed to follow God, and so all of Jerusalem suffers! Alas!

But truth be told, beloved reader, it was not 100% of Jerusalem that fell away from God, anymore than it was 100% of Jerusalem that was taken away. So often it is those who are held in high profile whose actions are personified and magnified as the majority or the whole. What you must decide for yourself is whether you are one of the token group; or whether you are the stalwart minority who continue on when all around you is falling apart. Interesting to consider.

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About Carole Boshart

I have two blogs on WordPress. "A Simple Desire" which is based on the daily "Sips of Scripture" published and sent out by Third Way Cafe. "Pondering From the Pacific" is based on my reflections on the world - sometimes religious/spiritual, and sometimes not so much.

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