He stood in the temple precincts as people were going to worship, and he said, Trust not in lying vanities, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. They were trusting in a ritual, in a place, rather than a relationship with a person.
The Bible reveals that God prioritizes holy people over holy places. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can deepen your relationship with the Lord and nourish your spiritual growth. Then at the end of today's program, Skip and his wife Lenya share how you can cultivate your spiritual health and enjoy a richer relationship with Jesus. My word of advice is before you read the hood news, what's going on in the neighborhood, read the good news, what's going on in God's Kingdom, and get get into God's Word first and foremost before you access anything else to get your heart ready to hear whatever news comes your way through those other outlets. Thanks Skip and Lenya. Be sure to stay tuned after today's message to hear the full conversation. Now we want to tell you about a resource that shows you how the truth of Jesus' resurrection transforms your life. The aftermath of 2020 has left so many of us wrestling with questions about the future and wondering, what's next?
Here's Skip Heitzig. That's a question by the way that people ask anytime there is a catastrophe, any kind of catastrophic event causes people to ask the question, what's next? If there's a car accident that happens, well, what's next? Am I going to be able to walk after this? If a disease strikes someone, what's next? Am I going to be cured? If somebody we love dies, we ask, what's next? Am I going to be able to go on? We want to help you live with confidence no matter what the future holds by sending you a powerful collection of Easter weekend messages from Skip Heitzig on the hope of the resurrection.
Anything's possible. If the one who said he's going to die and rise again died and rose again, that means all of the promises Jesus ever made are possible and can come true. That's why it's called The Living Hope. The Morning That Changed Everything with Skip Heitzig is a DVD collection of six life-changing Easter messages. And it's our thanks for your gift of $35 or more today to help connect more people to the living hope of Jesus Christ.
To give online securely, visit connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Now, we're in the book of Lamentations as Skip Heitzig gets into today's message. It is a poetic wail, a poetic lamentation. In fact, there are five songs all together, five funeral dirges. And the five are the five chapters. Somebody has even noticed there are five voices in the book of Lamentations.
Can I give them to you? In chapter one, it's the voice of the city personified, as if the city is crying out. In chapter one, the Lord is speaking.
It's his voice as if he is answering the city's cry in an antiphonal sort of way. In chapter three, the longest of the chapters of the book, 66 verses in that chapter, it is the voice of the prophet speaking. In chapter four, it is the voice of possessions talking. That is the things people accumulated, the gold, the silver, the stuff.
The stuff is talking. And then finally, chapter five, it's the voice of the captives as they feel the chains around their ankles and around their wrists and they are taken to captivity. So you really do have to read this book with as much emotion as you can.
And if you're a musician and you're going to put music to it, make sure you use the minor key for this book. There's not a lot of joy in it. There are some high points, but not a lot. Now, you might be asking the question, why is a book like this even in the Bible? What's the what's the whole point of reading such a sad saying?
Who wants to sit down and read a funeral poem, a funeral dirge? Well, it's beneficial because it will help you focus on ultimate realities. Yes, you are going to die. Yes, unless the Lord comes back every one you know and love typically older than you will eventually die. So this book kind of, it tethers us, it grounds us, it brings us to these these inevitable realities. Remember what Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes?
Was it chapter seven, I think he said? He said, it's better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting because that is the end of all men and the living will take it to heart. So as you go through this book, it's good to take these words to heart. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist over a century ago and he said, a grave preaches a sermon to the soul. Now, I do a lot of funerals and I take those sermons, not my sermons at the funeral, but the sermon of the funeral and death to heart. And the older we get, the more we think of that ultimate reality. Billy Graham, who's now in heaven, when he was asked what is the most surprising thing about life, his classic answer was, it's brevity. This is the ultimate reality.
Okay, something else. This book, the book of Lamentations, is part of a section of the Bible called the Megiloth. I'm pronouncing it, Americanizing it on purpose, Megiloth or Megilot is the Hebrew pronunciation. And some of you will remember the term, it means the five scrolls because we mentioned it when we went through the book of Ruth, the book of Esther, those are books that are in that little five scrolled Megiloth. Ruth, Esther, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations. These short poetic books are books read in the synagogue of the Jews from antiquity to this present day on some of the notable feast days throughout the year. The book of Lamentations is read on the 9th of Av.
I'm going to tell you about that in a moment. The 9th day of Av, the Jewish Hebrew month of Av, because that is the date that they commemorate the fall of the temple in Jerusalem. And it is still read to this day in synagogues. Okay, the temple fell on the 9th day of Av, A-V. In a Jewish calendar, you write the day first and then the month. In our calendar, the Gregorian calendar, we write the month first then the day. So what is today?
What is the day today? Is it the 8th? 10th.
I'm a preacher. Okay, so it is 7-10, correct? If we were doing a Hebrew calendar, we would say 10-7. Wait a minute, is that right?
Yeah, 10-7. Okay, I want to make sure. Again, I'm a preacher.
These things can elude me sometimes. So they put the day first then the month. So why am I telling you this? Because the 9th of Av is such a horrible day because it's the memory of everything they held safe for being destroyed. So they commemorate that horrible day, they call it 9-11. The 9th day of the 11th month, the 9th of Av. Their 9-11 is the destruction of the temple.
You want to hear something even more interesting, eerily interesting? That's just an eerie coincidence, I know, but what's eerie about it is the temple of Solomon fell on the 9th of Av, 9-11. Guess what day the temple that was rebuilt was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD? The exact same day, the 9th of Av. So they celebrate on the same day two consecutive temples being destroyed, burned with fire. It was mid-July that the city fell, it was mid-August that the city was burned. Jeremiah was there to see it. Lamentations chapter 1, 22 verses.
I'll explain that maybe if we have time in a while. The first half of the chapter is different from the second half of the chapter. The first half of the chapter, it's as if you're on the outside looking in and beginning in verse 12, the second half of the chapter is like you're on the inside looking out. So Lamentations 1 verse 1, how lonely sits the city that was full of people. How like a widow is she who is great among the nations.
The princess among the provinces has become a slave. Now Jerusalem normally is a very crowded city. There's a psalm that I repeat in my mind when I walk around the ramparts, the walls of Jerusalem because the buildings are just on top of each other. It's so smashed together and the psalmist said Jerusalem is a city compacted together where the tribes go up and it always feels crowded and compact and it's like man there's a lot of people in this little place. That's Jerusalem on a normal day. The prophet is noticing how deserted the city is as people have fled, run away or have been taken captive.
A few years ago I got a little taste of this. I don't want to scare you off on a tour to Israel because I just entice you with seeing the stones from 586 BC but let me just say years ago when it was I think less safe than it is today, a riot broke out while I was in the old city of Jerusalem. It was fabulous to watch because you know you hear the commotion, you see crowds running and then you see the jeeps and tanks roll up and the soldiers get out and there's this huge gate called the Damascus Gate that they closed the gate of the city. Well I'm in the city and the city gets closed so you're kind of in the midst of the commotion but then the streets are cleared and after a while that same section is a ghost town.
It's like people, the windows get buttoned up, the doors are closed, everybody's gone and you know you hear crickets. So Jeremiah sees this city like that desolate after or during this destruction. Verse two, she weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks, among all her lovers she has none to comfort. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. The lovers mentioned here are all of those nations that they sought to form alliances with to gain strength against Babylon.
Nations like Egypt, nations like Edom to the east, Tyre and Sidon, those Phoenician cities up north, those are called lovers and they failed her in her time of need. Verse 14, go down to that verse, the roads to Zion mourn, so descriptive, because no one comes to the set feasts, feast of Passover, feast of Pentecost, feast of Tabernacles with a set feast. All her gates are desolate, her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted and she is in bitterness.
Now not only was the city alive teaming with people but on the set feasts all of the roads leading into Jerusalem were packed full of pilgrims, usually singing, playing games, antiphonally reciting psalms, the psalms of ascent, the halal psalms. But the city is mourning, the roads are empty. And you just have to think of it this way, when somebody is mourning they sometimes let themselves go. In Judaism one mourns for 30 days and when you mourn the death of a loved one like a parent you, according to tradition, you just let your hair go, you let your hair grow for 30 days, you don't cut it.
You let your facial hair grow, you just sort of look like, you look interesting, you're disheveled. So these roads teaming with people, the roads to Zion have just grown up, the weeds and grasses have grown up alongside of them, nobody's visiting them anymore because of the desolation. Down to verse 10, the adversary has spread his hand over all her pleasant places, for she has seen the goyim, the gentiles, the nations enter her sanctuary, those whom you commanded not to enter your assembly. How disheartening for the Jew to look up to the temple, to look up and see the temple that they believed was sacred and and supernaturally protected by God. God wouldn't let anything happen to his temple. Remember what Jeremiah did in chapter 7, 8, 9, 10, the temple sermons that he gave, we mentioned last week, he stood in the temple precincts as people were going to worship and he said, trust not in lying vanities, saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. They were trusting in a ritual, in a place, rather than a relationship with a person.
They lost the fear of the Lord and soon they would lose the temple of the Lord. It is a warning to those, if there are any, who look to a place, we mentioned holy places last week versus holy people. Remember the conversation that our Lord had with a woman at the well of Samaria?
And she said, look it's all about the place. She said our fathers worshiped in this mountain, pointing to Mount Gerizim in Samaria. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you Jews say Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship. And Jesus said, woman the hour is coming and now is, when neither here nor in Jerusalem will one worship the Father.
For God is looking for those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. But they made it all about the place, all about the art rather than the heart, all about the place rather than the person, all about the ritual more so than the relationship. And the problem was their disobedience.
The disobedience brought destruction. When it comes to buildings, I've always thought that buildings are important but they are secondary. What's important about this place or about Calvary isn't the structure, it's you. It's like a lunch sack or a lunch pail. Remember when you go to school, anybody have lunch pails? Did you ever have lunch pails? Did you ever have, did you not do lunch pails? I mean you just did lunch sacks. Okay, either way whether you had a pail or a sack, the rest of you starved I suppose and I feel really bad for you now. But whether you had a lunch pail or a lunch sack, what was important, well maybe to you the lunch pail was important because it's cool, look at it's got whoever you had on.
I had the Beatles on mine. But what was really important wasn't the sack or the pail but what's inside, the lunch, the nourishment. What's important isn't the building, what's important is the people in the building and the nourishment, the spiritual food, the spiritual growth, the changed lives that occur.
So buildings serve a purpose but a secondary purpose, you being the primary purpose. Now we have, I better speed up from the inside looking out, verse 12, 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. Verse 16, for these things I weep, writes the prophet. My eye, my eye overflows with water because the comforter who should restore my life is far from me. My children are desolate because the enemy prevailed.
Zion spreads out her hands but no one comforts her. The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob that those around him become his adversaries. Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them. Now here is where we see Jesus, I believe, in the book of Lamentations. One of the rumors circulating around the country when Jesus was on the earth is that maybe he was Jeremiah.
In Matthew 16 and parallel passages, Jesus said, who do men say that I the son of men am? Answer, some say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Why would they say he's Jeremiah?
Well maybe it's a strong denunciations but I think it was his compassion. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet. Jesus will stand on the precipice of the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem and the Bible said he'll weep. He'll weep out loud like a convulsive weep, a sob, and say oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her chickens but you were not willing. So compassionate, torn up because he saw the destruction of the temple there 9 11 coming in 70 AD.
Now in chapter 2 we have the second dirge. It is the details of God's judgment. It depicts the anger of God and thus the dismantling of the city and you will notice that God is the one taking responsibility.
He's like a one-man wrecking crew. In the book of Hebrews there's a verse that not a lot of us love to memorize or underline I believe. Hebrews 10 it says it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.
The living God is against the city of Jerusalem in 586 BC chapter 2 verse 1. How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger. He cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel. That's a reference to the temple. He did not remember his footstool in the day of his anger. In 1 Chronicles 28 and if memory serves Psalm 132, Psalm 132, Psalm 132 David refers to the temple as God's footstool. The footstool of our God. Chapter 2 verse 5 the Lord was like an enemy.
Mark that. He has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces.
He has destroyed her strongholds and has increased mourning and lamentation. There's that word in the daughter of Judah. Now I mentioned that Jeremiah writes, speaks of, makes mention of the city of Babylon 164 times. Guess how many times he mentions it in the book of Lamentations? Zero. He goes zero?
Yeah zero. He doesn't mention Babylon. Oh they're the ones doing the destruction. But what I want you to notice is here he turns to the Lord and says actually the Lord did this. Actually the God in heaven, the sovereign Lord used the Babylonians. So he is going all the way back to the source identifying God as the agent. Just like the book of Daniel chapter 1 verse 1 and 2. It says Nebuchadnezzar came against Judah. The Lord delivered Judah and King Jehoiakim into Nebuchadnezzar's hands. Two things were happening.
Humans were active. On the other hand God was active. And so the Lord verse 5 was like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel. Swallowed up all of her palaces. What does that mean to you and I when it comes to human suffering and pain?
Let me give you a tidbit. God is willing to give us hurts if it will turn our hearts. The hurts he allows to come are in order to turn our hearts back to him. He gives the hurts because he wants our hearts.
He has a goal in mind. God doesn't have a mean streak. God isn't getting back at you. God is a love streak whom the Lord loves. He chastens the Bible says and he disciplines every son that he receives.
That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Now let's go in the studio with Skip and Langa as they share how you can cultivate your spiritual health and enjoy a richer relationship with Jesus. Today we were reminded once again that the Holy Spirit dwells inside believers and because of that church buildings aren't as important as the people inside of them. That's why we must maintain our spiritual growth and nourishment. Skip what are some practical things our listeners can do to stay healthy spiritually? I remember hearing this growing up, you are what you eat. And some people feed on a lot of different things.
Some people feed on entertainment, people feed on a diet of news, some people on social media, they fill up their tank on these things. So my word of advice is before you read the hood news, what's going on in the neighborhood, read the good news, what's going on in God's kingdom, and get into God's Word first and foremost before you access anything else to get your heart ready to hear whatever news comes your way through those other outlets. And then I'll add to that, don't isolate yourself because if you isolate yourself, and especially if you just isolate yourself and feed on all these bad things, you're going to get wonky. The Bible says, he who has friends must himself be friendly. So be friendly with the right kind of people, get people around you to point you to the throne of God and encourage you on your walk.
Thank you, Skip and Lenya. The Bible gives you foundational truths about who God is and how He works in your life. And we make these biblical teachings available on the air across the US and around the world so friends like you can grow in God's truth. But your support is vital to keep these teachings coming your way. Your gift helps keep these messages on the air to encourage you and countless others. So please consider helping today. Just visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give a gift now. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Or you can call 800-922-1888.
800-922-1888. Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzigs covers a painful time in Israel's history, sharing important insight with you about why God allows suffering. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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