Does This Mean Nothing To You?

Do you care as you pass by and witness tragedy and devastation?

Christians are meant to represent the God that we love and serve to the rest of the world. The sort of God that he is is what we are meant to be sharing with others. Is God a holy God? Yes, so we should be reflecting his holiness in our own lives.

Is he just, loving, gracious, pure, and true? Yes, so those qualities should feature in our lives as well. Related to this, we need to share in the heart of God: we need to care about what he cares about, rejoice in what he rejoices in, and grieve over what he grieves about.

The more time we spend being with God and seeking to know him, the more we will become like him. And out of that we can more faithfully and more accurately represent him to the rest of the world. As the Apostle Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

That is basic Christianity 101. Here I want to look at just one aspect of this. As I mentioned, we should care deeply about the things God cares deeply about. What breaks the heart of God should break our hearts. What grieves God should grieve us. Let me speak to this more, based on a verse I just again read.

The short book of Lamentations (just five chapters) is all about the fall of Jerusalem and the temple at the hands of the Babylonians. Because of Israel’s continual sin and disobedience, God used the Babylonians as his instrument of judgment, and many Israelites were taken away into captivity. They became exiles – strangers in a strange land.

For more on this important Old Testament book, see here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/12/11/bible-study-helps-lamentations/

Just one verse in the book is worth drawing your attention to here. Lamentations 1:12a says this:

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
   Look around and see. (NIV)

Or as Old Testament scholar Leslie Allen rendered this verse:

Should it not be your concern, all you passersby?
   Take notice and look!

How could any of God’s people not be utterly shell-shocked, disturbed, and despondent over what had happened? How could this utter devastation NOT bother them immensely? Lamentations 3:49-51 speaks of the right sort of response to all this:

My eyes will flow without ceasing,
    without respite,
until the Lord from heaven
    looks down and sees;
my eyes cause me grief
    at the fate of all the daughters of my city.

Other texts express the same emotional and mental grief over what has befallen God’s people. As we read in Psalm 137:1-4:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

So what is the Christian takeaway on all this? Some might say, ‘So what? That was long ago and involved ancient Israel.’ But the point is this: just as the true people of God cared deeply about what was happening to them back then, so too all true Christians should grieve deeply over what is happening in the world today, and what is happening in the church today.

In many ways the church today in the West finds itself in cultural captivity. We too are strangers in a strange land. We too live in a hostile environment, and we face majorities who look down on what we value and believe. Every day we see more and more attacks on the Christian faith, more blatant cases of anti-Christian bigotry, and more outright persecution of devout followers of Christ.

All these things should bother us, as they bother God. Does it bother us as we witness the rise of an aggressive secular left and its war on all things Christian? Does it disturb us as we see the ongoing assaults on faith, family and freedom? Do we care about the erosion of religious liberty and the growth of Big Brother government?

Simply looking at the many parallels between what is happening today as power-hungry leaders whip up hysteria and panic about a virus, taking away our most basic of human rights and freedoms, and what we saw happening in Germany in the 1930s, should make us all shudder.

And there are numerous people who actually survived the Holocaust who are still alive today that have pointed out these ominous similarities. They are deeply troubled and frightened by what they see happening today. And they have every right to be so concerned. We should be too.

I conclude with a few remarks about Lam. 1:12. One commentator, J. Daniel Hays reminds us of what is going on in this verse “The image is of the grieving, weeping widow (Jerusalem) looking up and addressing those who walk by.” Robin Parry explains further:

Lady Jerusalem opens her first main speech (1:12-16) by turning from addressing YHWH to addressing those passing by. Calling on those passing by is a common motif in a destruction scene. Passers-by play the conventional role of witnesses to disaster and often of mockers (Ps. 89:41). The audience is cast in the role of passers-by and drawn in by this address as Jerusalem’s words to onlookers reach out of the page to the readers. She invites the readers to look at her but not to mock her. Has she given up on YHWH, and is she now looking for solace in those gawping at her? It is not clear at this point, but what is clear is that she needs a comforter to stand with her, and thus she calls out to bystanders.

Image of A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations
A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations by Allen, Leslie C. (Author), Wolterstorff, Nicholas (Foreword) Amazon logo

Lastly, Leslie Allen, who I mentioned above, says this about the text:

In stanza 12, the initial appeal is an indirect allusion to Zion’s plight and her craving for comfort. A scenario occasionally described in the Old Testament (e.g., 1 Kings 9:8-9; Jer. 19:8; 22:8-9), one that must have been commonplace in the ancient world, portrays travellers passing by a city once vibrant with life but now destroyed by enemy attack. They stand and look at the ruins with curious horror and then pass on, shaking their heads in shock. A contemporary scenario is the way drivers on the freeway slow down to look with horrified fascination at the result of a tragic accident. Here Zion puts herself in the ancient scenario, as she will later, in Lamentations 2:15. She pleads for some feelings of humanity to be shown by these imaginary travelers, though she knows the stereotyped scenario is not scripted that way.

(As I typed those words, I could not help but think of similar images in Australia with lockdown mania destroying so many once lively and thriving cities. They now lay empty, deserted, and graffitied with countless shops and businesses never again to reopen. Could it be that Covid and power-drunk politicians are God’s judgment on a sinful nation?)

Other Old Testament passages say similar sorts of things about the need for God’s people to grieve with godly grief. I have often quoted Amos 6:1-7 for example. Let me do so again:

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
    and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
    to whom the people of Israel come!
Go to Kalneh and look at it;
    go from there to great Hamath,
    and then go down to Gath in Philistia.
Are they better off than your two kingdoms?
    Is their land larger than yours?
You put off the day of disaster
    and bring near a reign of terror.
You lie on beds adorned with ivory
    and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
    and fattened calves.
You strum away on your harps like David
    and improvise on musical instruments.
You drink wine by the bowlful
    and use the finest lotions,
    but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
    your feasting and lounging will end.

Woe to you if you are complacent and do not grieve over Israel’s downfall. Or in this case, woe to you if you do not give a rip about the church’s downfall, or Australia’s downfall, or America’s, etc. Does none of this bother you? Does it not concern you at all? If it does not, you may need to repent and ask God to break your heart with what breaks his heart.

Yes, I recognise that we are all different, and people do have differing personalities, temperaments, outlooks and so on. Some folks seem to be always positive, upbeat and happy, while others are more gloomy and solemn. But regardless of this, we all can seek to share in more of what is on the heart of God as we see things collapsing all around us. We must share in his grief, and we must shed tears over what we see.

Or is it simply nothing to you as you pass by?

[1541 words]

16 Replies to “Does This Mean Nothing To You?”

  1. Yes Bill, it grieves me greatly that our State, nation and indeed the world is turning away more and more from God. That is why I am involved with Australian Christian Lobby, endeavouring to help “make truth public”.
    It also grieves me that the Australian church seems asleep….unaware of what is going on or, if aware, they don’t know or care how much this evil permeates their children’s schools and universities. And it grieves me that some parts of the church have been completely deceived and are embracing homosexuality as normal and condoned by God. Very very sad…..

  2. Hi Bill,
    I found this sermon to be very comforting over the weekend. As we are being hounded to vaccinate literally day and night I must confess to feeling quite exhausted by it all. It was good to know that others around the world know of our plight and we are drawn to our biblical hero’s who set the example for us to follow.
    Blessings to you

    https://youtu.be/w8QwDNnvFhs

  3. Great article as usual Bill. I often despair that so many pastors and churchgoers support government edicts without question. One congregation in Sydney this week got fined thousands of dollars for holding a COVID prayer meeting!

    You are smarter than me. Perhaps you can come up with a relevant contemporary version of Niemoller’s famous prose:
    First they came for the unvaccinated
    etc.

  4. I care deeply for the lives lost and ruined by the toxic jab. I weep regularly. I could not cope if I was not a Christian. My record: my 94 year old father was hospitalised with breathing difficulties and now has heart damage, my dentist’s dear 42 year old fit and healthy friend died after vaxx, 2 volunteer coleagues were hospitalised with breathing difficulties, one having heart surgery today post vaxx, a number of people in my art class have had weeks of illness, one was hospitalised for 6 weeks to learn to walk again. The husband of a friend could not get out of bed for 6 weeks after vaxx. His doctor told him it was ‘just old age.’ My family is being torn apart. My son has probably been vaxxed and all my grandchildren may be next (I pray against it).

    150. August 26 2021 COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 26-08-2021 | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
    8 reports of thrombocytopenia (blood clots with low platelets – TTS) this week.
    5 suspected cases have been deemed not TTS due to ’insufficient medical evidence’
    New reports – women 27 yrs, 34, 67, 68, 73,74,75 and a 83 yr old man.
    • The Product Information for the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine has been updated to include a warning about Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), and a caution about anxiety-related reactions in response to vaccination.
    Total – 116 cases of TTP
    In the last week the TGA has received 2,327 reports of serious injuries post vaxx.
    Total serious injuries: 52,849
    To the 15th of August 476 post vaxx deaths have been reported.
    Tasmania continues to have the highest rate of ‘adverse events’.
    New ‘adverse event’ – menstrual irregularities and vaginal bleeding – 322 reports received including vaginal bleeding in post menopausal women. TGA has decided that none of these are related to the vaccine.

    56 reports of Immune Thrombocytopenia after AZ
    89 reports of Guillaine Barre Syndrome (paralysis)
    235 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis have been received – post Pfizer vaxx.
    47 in one week! Are these high numbers due to younger people having the vaxx? These events are more likely in young men.
    COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 26-08-2021 | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
    Summary – to 15/8/21 COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 26-08-2021 | Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
    476 post vaxx death reports – 16 more since last week’s report
    52,849 serious injuries – 2,327 in the last week
    Thrombocytopenia 116 reports – 8 reports this week

    Reports of Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) – 56 received

    89 reports of Guillain Barre syndrome (paralysis)

    235 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis have been received – 47 in one week!

    New ‘adverse event’ – menstrual irregularities and vaginal bleeding – 322 reports received including vaginal bleeding in post menopausal women. TGA has decided that none of these are related to the vaccine.

  5. My son in law who is a businessman told me today that 100,000 businesses have shut down permanently in Victoria Australia, never to open again.
    I go regularly to give blood in Melbourne and it now has an occupancy of 10%. It is like a ghost town with bordered up shops, graffiti, and the homeless begging.
    It is tragic to see this once great city that was once voted, the most livable city in the world.
    Truly tragic Bill and totally being destroyed, by design, by Demonic Dan!!
    Terry

  6. May I humbly suggest that we collectively lack the courage to change the things I can as very few things that I cannot change IF we individually and collectively adhere to the Objective Truth of the Word that our hardship is the pathway to peace (the Way of the Cross). The covert / overt messaging of liberation, social justice, even “prosperity gospel” theology promotes “coexist” most recently to the exclusion of the Christian Cross (their backhand testimonial to the power of the Cross).

    The Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.
    Amen.

    Peace be with you and yours,

  7. Upsetting and confusing is the death of truth. People we respected have been shown to be unworthy of respect. A recent opinion piece in the British Medical Journal suggested that we should regard a research paper as fraudulent until proved otherwise. There is a great sifting, very necessary but no fun at all. The Manchester (England) shop sign had it sad but right: “In God we trust. Everyone else pays cash”.

  8. I am both grieved and angered over what is happening. I am on the younger side, turning 44 in November, but even the country of MY youth, I was a 80’s kid, is gone. Between those who can’t see that we have passed that point of no return that many nations before us have passed and those who feel they shouldn’t say anything because it won’t matter not much being done by Christians but being pedestrians. The first group expects MASSIVE revival any minute regardless of the conditions, in fact they have for at least 30 years and it only gets worse (some seem almost like the worse it gets the bigger the revival which is on par with the more sin I commit the more forgiveness I can receive), the second doesn’t really as a witness you have an obligation to speak out. It doesn’t matter if they stop it doesn’t matter if they listen you are called by God to speak against evil no matter what not just when conveniently or when people will listen to you.

    I know judgment is coming is necessary and is the only way but I do not rejoice over it I am not glad for it. I would prefer we turn back on our own but we have had plenty of time and have failed to turn back this is the ONLY way. Even so the coming death and destruction is saddening and heart wrenching. I think of my beautiful city in flames and weep. I think of the children who will die and anguish. If only we had listened to God right away.

  9. Part of the reason I put in the last paragraph is I think some think I and others who warn of coming judgment (especially when we explicitly say judgement first THEN revival), revel in judgement glory in destruction but that is not at all it. We carry a message that we would rather not carry for it is a harsh message indeed not at all a message we enjoy giving but we know it is a message that must be given least we fail in our duty to our Lord. We aren’t God to preach destruction and “gloom and doom” but we can’t lie about what the Lord wants us to tell people. We cannot sugarcoat it to make it more palatable. This medicine ISN’T supposed to go down smooth. Nobody enjoys this type of calling no-one asks for it or is clamouring for it. We ask for his judgment to come quickly NOT because we can’t wait for the opportunity to go around as fire is reigning down saying I told you so OR see I was right. We ask for it quickly so that the rebuilding can start quicker the repentance can flow quicker and ultimately God will receive glory quicker.

    We aren’t sadists or masochists we are just realists who understand what is happening and coming.

  10. Amos 6:3 “You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror.”

    That verse struck me; it is the transition between what they saw, v1-2, and what they were doing, v4-6.

    What does it mean to put off the evil day?
    Translators have tried to wrestle with it, but let me say what I think about how it applies now.

    The timing of the day of disaster is in our hands, it is the day of war, it is the day we say “cease doing evil”, it is the day we begin to pay the cost of facing the civil authorities.
    We see what is going on in Australia, we are variously involved, variously effected, but we desire to hang on to the comforts, securities, and familiarities.
    We know that confronting the evil, the issues, the problems, will cost us; perhaps bring disaster to us, it will appear to be “evil” for us.
    We are putting the day of confrontation off, putting the disaster off, for our own safety and comfort, and while we do, the issues, the problems, the evil, “the terror”, do nothing but increase.

    There is “the Day of The Lord”, this is not that day; but this is an evil day now.
    This disastrous day must come, this is the cost, this is the action that we must choose.
    We can put this day off, it is our choice, but we are under God’s rebuke if we do.
    And also his judgement v7.

  11. Yes thanks Bill. Your article is a timely one for me.
    I wish to respond to Argus Tuft, just a few moments ago I attempted to start a contemporary version of Niemoller’s famious statement. But it didn’t work. And the good news is that we are not there yet. Within Victoria, perhaps there is more police violence, to enforce the government narrative. While we seem to be moving to a point where a contemporary version of Niemoller’s statement may apply, especially if we – to quote Amos – attempt to put off the day of disaster. We are so like sheep. We have thus far been so compliant. My analysis says we must find an alternative media to undermine the mainstream media (I am speaking legal actions). We need alternative media which seeks to undermine the cycloptic vision that was once a critical analysis and insightful journalism operating in our mainstream media. There are many good things happening, but they are not getting air time; such as Clive Palmer funding Craig Kelly at the next election. I have dreamt of revisiting the pirate radio days of the 1960’s, when broadcasts were made in ships in international waters and beamed into the U.K. We need to be creative. I applaud those who are willing to protest in the streets. But it is real news that will create more vaccine hesitancy. Real news will also create vaccine regret. Lord help us get at it. And let’s keep in touch and build up our existing networks. We also need very accurate information.
    I would like to share the following video. To date I have only shared it this video with a small handful of people. In doing so I am seeking to impart hope for those resisting. I don’t know how true this video is for Australia. But if it is properly researched and if it can be proven, such information would be very powerful to undermining msm media and government narratives. But if it is false and we spread it, it only serves to undermining our cause. For this reason I am hesitant to share for fear of some fool running with it and damaging our cause and undermining our position. But I am sharing this because it looks like this may be true. Please consider the following as an incomplete investigation. Here’s the video link:
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/WYzX8uLACk77/

  12. I see someone has penned this:

    First they came for the unmasked, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not I unmasked.
    Then they came for those not vaccinated , and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not unvaccinated .
    Then they came for those who didn’t use the QR codes, and I did not speak out—
    Because I used the QR codes.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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