"Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future." (Lam 1:9)
The story is heart-wrenching: the demise of God's glorious people; the ruin of God's own city, the city of peace; the destruction of God's glorious temple; the desolation of the land given by God Himself; the captivity of most of God's people, with the few who are left living as nomads. And in the midst of all this destruction and desolation, Jeremiah, the "weeping prophet" records in the book of Lamentations this heart-wrenching account of the horrible fate of what should have been the crown of God's creation. Oh God -- what could have been . . .
In the middle of this account of anguish and despair, Jeremiah gives us a few clues as to why Judah and Jerusalem found themselves in the state they were in. Why would he do this? I believe these can serve as a warning to each of us, so that we would not follow in her path, so that we would keep ourselves from the same pattern of destruction and demise!
Let's consider the first reason recorded in Lamentations: "Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future." (Lam. 1:9, emphasis mine)
Why did Jerusalem fall? Because she "did not consider her future"!
As I contemplated this statement this morning, I realized that God was speaking to me a message of warning. God wanted me to understand that we, today, are not immune to what happened to Israel. Just as all of God's glorious plans for His people lay in ruins in this account, all of His glorious promises and all the beautiful plans He has for us today could also end up as ruined as Jerusalem. How? By falling into the same trap as Jerusalem: By not considering our future!
And this is God's message for each one of His children in the upcoming New Year: Consider your future!
But how? What exactly does this mean to "consider your future"?
As I thought about this, two other texts were impressed upon my mind. The first was a message given by Jesus Himself as part of the Sermon on the Mount: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:19-21, emphasis mine)
How do we consider our future? By setting our priorities on the future -- on our eternal treasure -- our Heavenly treasure!
The second clue comes from the apostle Paul: 2 Cor. 4:17-18 -- "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (emphasis mine)
The "seen" is the here and now. The "unseen" is the future. If we fix our eyes on the future, on our eternal reward, on our heavenly treasure, and stop worrying so much about the here and now, then we can safeguard ourselves from the demise of ancient Israel. We can avoid falling into the trap of Jerusalem, who, Jeremiah tells us, "did not consider her future"!
As we approach the New Year, friends, let us take a moment to contemplate this message. Take time to pray over it, to "write" these Scriptures "like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead" (Ex 13:9) that they may always "be on your lips" (Ex. 13:9). Lay up for yourselves heavenly treasure, my friends! Keep your eyes focused on the unseen! Consider your future!
Happy and blessed New Year to each and every one of you!