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Op-Ed: This Old Testament Book Must Serve as a Wake-Up Call for America

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The Old Testament book of Lamentations must serve as a wake-up call for America.

The parallels between the rebellious nation of Judah that suffered God’s severe wrath and the United States’ similar sins are both uncanny and sobering.

God had warned Judah through the prophet Jeremiah that his judgment would be coming if that callous, sinful nation did not repent and return to him. But the message from God’s lonely and discarded prophet was largely ignored. Finally, God poured out his punishment upon the people of Judah for their gross immorality and idolatry.

Jeremiah had foretold the coming wrath of God long before penning the book of Lamentations. Lamentations, then, shows the perspective of God’s judgment from the rearview mirror.

The book’s title comes from the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Greek word chosen for the title means “lament.” The Greek word was transliterated from the Hebrew word ekah, which means “loud cries.” The word, which appears as the first word of Jeremiah 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1, could also be translated as “how?” in the sense of great dismay or grieving. This book is literally titled, “Oh! How Could This Have Happened?”

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In beautiful prose in Lamentations 1:1 and 2:15, respectively, the prophet Jeremiah shows the result of a nation daring to shun God through repeated and unrepentant disobedience:

“How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer!”

“All who pass along the way clap their hands in derision at you; they hiss and shake their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, ‘Is this the city of which they said, “The perfection of beauty, a joy to all the earth”?’”

It is immediately evident how jam-packed with emotion the first word of this book is! Lamentations is a dirge — an entire book of dismay regarding the once beautiful city of Jerusalem.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet had prophesied Jerusalem’s coming judgment, the one everyone totally ignored. The weeping prophet is now looking back and writing with tears of anguish about a nation that had earlier failed to heed his munificent, God-given warnings.

Called by God to be a nation of his followers, Judah’s people were increasingly filled with unbelief in Yahweh. The parallels to America are not hard to see.

There is one major difference between these nations that needs to be addressed, however. Judah was God’s nation of his chosen people, while the United States is not. Even so, while not a theocratic nation like Judah was, the United States was founded on biblical principles. Its society was once characterized by a shared morality based on God’s tenets.

In a general sense today, America parallels Judah, as is witnessed by the increasing secularization of our nation. Among many examples is idolatry.

Jeremiah warned that God would judge the nation of Judah based on her worship of other gods. One symbolic, telling parallel in America is that for many years, political leaders who name the name of Christ have tolerated and actually plugged in the microphone for the syncretistic National Prayer Breakfast in D.C. and its equivalents in state capitols, with their potpourri of theology.

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“What false religion shall we support this year?” is the essence of the suggested course of action of the various planners of the event. What is more revealing of the condition of believers in America is the nearly total lack of objection to such syncretistic gatherings! Most everyone I know has no problem with it — and attends regularly!

While almost everyone seems to accept these alliances, such actions do not attract the blessings of Yahweh. In God’s eyes, these associations are idolatrous and serve to curse our nation, not bless it. Notice Jeremiah 22:9b in this regard: “Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed down to other gods and served them.”

The Bible study “The Book of Lamentations as It Applies to America” tells the story, through Scripture, of God’s warnings and eventual judgment on the rebellious nation of Judah and delves deeply into the parallel story of the United States. Click here to read the full study and learn how and why the United States may suffer a similar fate as Judah at the hands of her enemies.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Ralph Drollinger, president and founder of Capitol Ministries, leads three Bible studies with political leaders every week. One on the Hill for U.S. senators and one for representatives, plus a weekly remote Bible study for state governors, former governors, and former White House Cabinet members and senior staff. Learn more at capmin.org/ministries.

Drollinger played basketball at UCLA under coach John Wooden and was the first player in NCAA history to go to the Final Four four times. Drollinger was taken in the NBA draft three times but chose to forgo the NBA to play with Athletes in Action, an evangelistic basketball team that toured the world and preached the gospel at halftime. Drollinger signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 1980 as a free agent, becoming the first Maverick in the history of the franchise.




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