Thursday 10 November 2011
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Read Lamentations 1-2 at Bible Gateway.
“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the LORD has inflicted in the day of His fierce anger.” Lam 1:12
If the LORD loves Zion, then why did He inflict this great sorrow on her? The end result of the great punishment and judgment which the LORD caused to come upon Zion in the day of His fierce anger, was sorrow unlike any other. He purposely inflicted sorrow on her! Why?
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Cor 7:9-10
There are two kinds of sorrow that can follow from discipline or chastening: godly sorrow, or worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow, which produces death, says, “I am sorry that I got caught, because the consequences that I am suffering now are causing me inconvenience and discomfort.” The person is sorry for the consequences that he is suffering, but he is not sorry for the sin or crime that he committed. If he could do the same sin or crime again, and not be caught, and not suffer consequences, he would. Death is produced from worldly sorrow, because the wages of sin is death. The only law that supersedes this law, is the law of mercy: that mercy is shown to those who repent of sin. The man experiencing worldly sorrow has not repented of the sin, but is merely trying to relieve his consequences.
Godly sorrow, on the other hand, produces repentance. The person is not just sorry that he is suffering consequences, but he is truly sorry that he did something wrong; committed a sin or a crime which hurt himself or someone else. If this man was given a chance, he would not repeat that sin or crime again, even if no one would ever know and no consequences would ever result. That is repentance. Repentance is the fruit of godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to life rather than death (Paul’s term is “salvation”) because the man who repents, who turns away from that sin or crime and does not return to it again, receives mercy — grace — salvation — life.
Jerusalem was on the road that leads to death. She loved her sin. Even though she experienced worldly sorrow for her sin, at times returning to the LORD in order to relieve herself of the consequences she was suffering, her sorrow was producing death for her, because she had not repented.
Listen, the LORD does not “lose His temper.” He does not ever lose self control. He poured out His fierce wrath for a purpose (Heb 12:5-6, 10-11); He ordained judgment, punishment, and consequences in order to inflict sorrow unlike any other. His great love for Zion could not be content with worldly sorrow, since it still meant death for His beloved. He was after godly sorrow, and its fruit, repentance, which leads to mercy — grace — salvation — LIFE.