Lamentations begins with a mournful description of her condition. Jerusalem is not a ghost town, but a land-fill where the very poorest people scavenge for something of value. The glory days are gone and the people of neighboring nations consider Judah an “unclean” place. How ironic that the “unclean” should regard the “clean” and unclean!
Chapter one of Lamentations lays the blame for all this on the sin of Israel, and on God as her judge. It also calls for sympathy.
Chapter two, however, is even more pointed that this calamity is God’s doing. There is no acknowledgment of sin, and no call for retribution against those who have rejoiced in her downfall and no cry for sympathy.
Does God ever walk away from His people?
I think the lamentations indicate that he does. He just doesn’t walk far. I am reminded of Hagar and Ishmael. At her wits end, she placed her child under a bush and walked away – not able to bear the death of her son. But she doesn’t go far. Surely not far enough away to avoid the child’s cries. God was not so far away He could not hear the laments of those left in the land (note the cries of hungry children in verses 11 and 19) – but He was away.
Sin drives a wedge between us and God. The more persistent sin is, the further God gets. It cannot be otherwise, for holiness cannot abide with sin. No one need think that if we persist in our ways, God will begin to overlook them and “learn to live with them.” After all, because He loves us, He has no choice.
But God will not be manipulated. He will walk away, but not without sending the wrath of his own thunder at His people who so depreciate the value of His blessing and presence.