About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Great Is Thy Faithfulness


The hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923 was based on Lamentations 3:22 and 23, that reads:


"Because of the LORDís great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."


We sing about God's faithfulness in the secure comfort of our church buildings and homes.  Comfort was not Jeremiah's reality when he penned the above words.  He, a righteous prophet, was suffering immensely alongside his unrighteous Jewish brethren as God destroyed his nation as an act of divine judgment.  The disconnect between Jeremiah's words of God's faithfulness and his miserable reality is difficult to comprehend.           


The context of the book of Lamentations is Babylon's invasion of Judah.  The Babylonian army overthrew Judah, destroyed its capital city Jerusalem, killed thousands of Jews, raped Jewish girls, imprisoned boys, and enslaved the rest hundreds of miles away in Babylon.  Things were so bad during those days that Jewish women actually killed their babies to feed their families, as was prophesied would happen when Israel forsook its God (Deuteronomy 28:53).


If you read the verses prior to Lamentations 3:22, you will see the horrific reality of Jeremiah's life during the Babylonian invasion.  Despite being a righteous man of God, he experienced affliction along with the unrighteous as God's wrath enveloped Judah (verse 1).  Every day he lived a darkened life as God's hand of judgment was against Judah (verses 2 - 3).  His skin was diseased and his bones broken (verse 4).  He was besieged with bitterness and hardship (verse 5).  He was living a life among the dead (verse 6).  He felt as if he was weighed down in chains without any way to escape (verse 7).  When he cried out to God for help, God refused to listen (verse 8).  God dragged him off his life's path and left him in the grips of lions and bears (verses 8, 9, 10, 11).  He was the target of God's arrows that pierced his heart (verses 12 - 13).  He was mocked and ridiculed by all nations (verse 14).  He was forced to eat bitter herbs and to drink gall through broken teeth as he sat in the dust (verse 15 - 16).  He was deprived of his once peaceful and prosperous life (verse 17).  All hope was gone from his devastated soul (verse 18, 19, 20).  Although some of the above was probably written in metamorphic terms, Jeremiah did not live in comfort.  He was in sad shape. 


The historic and Biblical fact is that the righteous suffer alongside the unrighteous when God brings a nation down in judgment.  We see this in the Bible and throughout history.  Christians, for example, were killed in 70 A. D. by the Roman army when God destroyed Jerusalem as an act of judgment on the Jews.  It will be this way until it all ends.  In the dying days of this age there will be a multitude of Christians who cannot be numbered martyred as God judges the nations (Revelation 6:10, 7:14).  Know for sure that Jesus will cause all nations, none excluded, to crumble at His feet (Revelation 18 and 19).                    


Despite Jeremiah's dreadful reality he had hope, not for the immediate present, but for the future, and why?  He realized that God is always faithful to do as He promises, whether those promises are to bless or to destroy.  That is the context of Lamentations 3:22 and 23 where our beloved hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is rooted.   

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