Icon: Utmost Humiliation
*Please be advised that the Book of Lamentations contains disturbing imagery*
Chapter 4 resumes the harrowing report of Jerusalem's desolation that was left off in Chapter 2. Again we hear of young children begging for bread and incidents of cannibalism (4:3-4, 10). Not even the rich and the nobility were spared; those who once feasted sumptuously on delicacies were reduced to scavenging from heaps of refuse (4:5, 7-8). So severe and prolonged was the suffering that those who were killed by the sword were better off (4:9).
The gold and holy stones of the demolished temple were scattered throughout every street along with the desperate and staggering people - those who were once the precious sons of Zion, valuable as fine gold, but now discarded as mere earthen pots (4:1-2). Notice how closely the defeated people are identified with the demolished materials of the temple.
If we skip ahead in the Biblical story, we can see this imagery resurrected and reconstructed:
As you come to [Christ], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV).
Through Christ's rejection, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, He becomes the heavenly Architect who chooses us to be the living stones in His new temple.
Though we often see ourselves as worthless rubble, He sees great value in us. Christ specifically selects building materials that are weak, low and despised, for so was He our cornerstone (1 Cor. 1:26-31). By the work of His Spirit in the trials and tribulations of our lives we are chiseled, polished, set and compacted into the great ediface of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-27).May we be given the faith to see this hard time of pandemic as precisely such a building project.
We as stones now lie scattered. We may not wish to see God as the one who has done the scattering, but we find ourselves scattered nonetheless.
Can we see our sufferings in the present as the Spirit's work of hewing and gathering us anew?
With patience and longsuffering, we look forward to the day when the Architect will set us back in our churches, perhaps even with a re-polished glory in which we shall see a clearer reflection of the shining gold and precious stones of the New Jerusalem to come.
On this Good Friday, we remember and give thanks that our heavenly Architect, Christ crucified and buried, laid Himself as our cornerstone, solid rock and sure foundation.
It is finished (John 19:30).