1How has the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger!
He has cast the beauty of Israel down from heaven to the earth,
and hasn’t remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.
2The Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob
He has thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah.
He has brought them down to the ground.
He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.
3He has cut off all the horn of Israel in fierce anger.
He has drawn back his right hand from before the enemy.
He has burned up Jacob like a flaming fire,
which devours all around.
4He has bent his bow like an enemy.
He has stood with his right hand as an adversary.
He has killed all that were pleasant to the eye.
In the tent of the daughter of Zion, he has poured out his wrath like fire.
5The Lord has become as an enemy.
He has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces.
He has destroyed his strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation in the daughter of Judah.
6He has violently taken away his tabernacle,
as if it were a garden.
He has destroyed his place of assembly.
Yahweh has caused solemn assembly and Sabbath to be forgotten in Zion.
In the indignation of his anger, he has despised the king and the priest.
7The Lord has cast off his altar.
He has abhorred his sanctuary.
He has given the walls of her palaces into the hand of the enemy.
They have made a noise in Yahweh’s house,
as in the day of a solemn assembly.
8Yahweh has purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion.
He has stretched out the line.
He has not withdrawn his hand from destroying;
He has made the rampart and wall lament.
They languish together.
9Her gates have sunk into the ground.
He has destroyed and broken her bars.
Her king and her princes are among the nations where the law is not.
Yes, her prophets find no vision from Yahweh.
10The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground.
They keep silence.
They have cast up dust on their heads.
They have clothed themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
11My eyes fail with tears.
My heart is troubled.
My bile is poured on the earth,
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because the young children and the infants swoon in the streets of the city.
12They ask their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
when they swoon as the wounded in the streets of the city,
when their soul is poured out into their mothers’ bosom.
13What shall I testify to you?
What shall I liken to you, daughter of Jerusalem?
What shall I compare to you,
that I may comfort you, virgin daughter of Zion?
For your breach is as big as the sea.
Who can heal you?
14Your prophets have seen false and foolish visions for you.
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
to reverse your captivity,
but have seen for you false revelations and causes of banishment.
15All that pass by clap their hands at you.
They hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying,
“Is this the city that men called ‘The perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth’?”
16All your enemies have opened their mouth wide against you.
They hiss and gnash their teeth.
They say, “We have swallowed her up.
Certainly this is the day that we looked for.
We have found it.
We have seen it.”
17Yahweh has done that which he planned.
He has fulfilled his word that he commanded in the days of old.
He has thrown down,
and has not pitied.
He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you.
He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.
18Their heart cried to the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
let tears run down like a river day and night.
Give yourself no relief.
Don’t let your eyes rest.
19Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the watches!
Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.
Lift up your hands toward him for the life of your young children,
who faint for hunger at the head of every street.
20“Look, Yahweh, and see to whom you have done thus!
Should the women eat their offspring,
the children that they held and bounced on their knees?
Should the priest and the prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?
21“The youth and the old man lie on the ground in the streets.
My virgins and my young men have fallen by the sword.
You have killed them in the day of your anger.
You have slaughtered, and not pitied.
22“You have called, as in the day of a solemn assembly, my terrors on every side.
There was no one that escaped or remained in the day of Yahweh’s anger.
My enemy has consumed those whom I have cared for and brought up.
When the 10 tribes of Israel in the north were conquered and exiled by Assyria the people of Judah did not recognise the warning that they would be next. They knew God as one who kept his promises, but they didn’t think that breaking their side of the covenant would affect them. The reason they thought they were safe was because they still had the temple, the symbol of God’s presence with them.
Chapter two brings a devastating blow to Judah as it displays the destruction of the temple. The one thing they were relying on, the thing in which they still found assurance was razed to the ground. The people often hid behind the temple and now they had been left completely exposed. As we learned before they would participate in temple life and then leave the building and just do whatever they wanted. Apart from their attendance at the temple there was nothing in their lives that set them apart as the people of God. Now the Babylonian army had torn down the walls and the temple and they were left defenceless and vulnerable.
Church and doing God’s work or ministry are ways in which we celebrate and honour our relationship with him, but they are not a substitute for a relationship with God. What happened to the Jews was extreme in response to extreme behaviour, but what would happen if some of the things we often hide behind were stripped back? Would our relationship with God still be shining through, or would our spiritual lives look naked and exposed like those in Jerusalem? We can make ourselves vulnerable not through sin or lack of serving, but through lack of a deep on going maturing spiritual relationship with God.