“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.”
The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah. It chronicles the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian army, led by King Nebuchadnezzar. The first two chapters of the book give sad accounts of what happened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the siege.
In chapter three are two verses about God’s faithfulness which, with the backdrop of the first two chapters, might seem misplaced. Lamentations 3:22, 23 says, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Jeremiah saw that the Israelites were not completely destroyed because God is merciful, compassionate, and faithful; great is God’s faithfulness.
How could it be that in judgment God is being merciful, compassionate, and faithful? Idolatry was why judgment fell upon Jerusalem. Nearly all of the prophetic books point out Israel’s idolatry, God’s anger with it, and His desire that they turn from it and obey and worship Him. Idolatry is equated with adultery in the Bible. In their idolatry, the people were being unfaithful to God. By practicing idolatry, they forsook God, the only One that really cared for them; Who wanted nothing but their best. But, though they had offended Him in this way, He was compassionate and merciful to them, and He was faithful to them. In spite of God’s many warnings through the prophets, they refused to turn away from their idols; they refused to turn to and trust in Him. And so, God’s judgment fell, as told in Lamentations. In the verse above, Jeremiah suggests a plan of action; “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.”
First, Jeremiah says, Let us search our ways. The Hebrew word means to search with diligence. He wanted them to think about where they were headed and the paths that they were using to get there. Note that he includes himself in this search. If people really desire to see Almighty God, do they think that He can be approached in just any way? Some say that there are many paths to God. They seem to think that anything they choose is OK, without considering that the One Whom they “seek” might have thoughts about it. Could He have feelings and rules about how to approach Him? Let us not be presumptuous with God. He does indeed have prescriptions about being in His presence that MUST be followed or we will not be able to be in His presence.
Then Jeremiah said they should try their ways. Having searched out their ways, they were to try or test them. What would be a good test? What would be a trustworthy standard? The philosophies of men fall too short for consideration. The Bible has much to say about how to approach God. Would their ways pass that test? And, what if they found that their approach didn’t line up with God’s Word? Would they be willing to set aside their notions and come to Him on His terms? Are the paths we have chosen in accordance with what He requires? Let us try our ways.
Jeremiah then says that, having searched and tested their ways, they should turn again to God. The Israelites were under God’s judgment, and Jeremiah tells them to turn to Him again. Could it be that having rebelled against Him as they have, He would accept them again? Remember what Jeremiah said, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” And, Hosea 6:1 states, “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”
Turning to Him means seeking and coming to Him in His way, believing that He will accept us. If we are honest, we quickly see that our ways are not even close to what honors Him. We must turn to His ways. And, incredible as it may seem, scripture clearly teaches that when we seek for Him we will find Him! Even in their adulterous idolatry, God would accept the Israelites if they turned from their sin.
So, what is His way? The Bible teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God. As recorded in Genesis 15, Abraham believed God and his belief was counted to him for righteousness. His belief was in God concerning a promise that He had made that his descendants would be innumerable. At the time, Abraham was 75 years old, and didn’t have any children.
At the center of the Bible is the death, burial, and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ. This is the event upon which all matters of eternity hang for every person. God says that we must be reconciled to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus has reconciled us to God, we cannot reconcile ourselves. Nothing we can do can make an eternal difference. We must stop trying to convince God that we are good enough, and humble ourselves before Him. Our only hope before God is to take Jesus as our Savior from God’s wrath. We must have faith in Him. Jesus said He is the Way to God. Everything else is idolatry.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.
the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Refrain (Edward Mote)