“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 sounds great, especially after reading Lamentations 5. The book of Lamentations is one of the best earthly examples of the price-tag for sin. Here is a vivid look at sin’s consequences.
So much of the Babylonian Exile is a figurative undoing of God’s Covenant with Israel. Of course, God’s covenants are irrevocable, but it’s as if God has said, “If you don’t want to have a relationship with me, here’s a taste of what life would look like without me in it.”—and it ain’t pretty.
God’s promise to Abraham was land, seed, and blessing. In verse 2, Israel’s reproach is that their “inheritance,” the Land, “has been turned over to strangers.” Abraham’s seed has become orphans and widows (3), with no one within a generation to “be fruitful and multiply.” Finally, the blessing that God promised has been lost, for instance, no longer is the Land “overflowing with milk and honey,” but even water and wood must be purchased (4).
The fruit of the Spirit isn’t simply a call for obedience, it is a gift received by a relationship with God through Christ. The verse that jumped out to me was verse 5 that said, “Our pursuers are at our necks; We are worn out, there is no rest for us.” Rest is a keyword when considering God’s promises. Ultimately, God’s Covenant with Abraham, especially in the Promised Land, was a taste of the eternal rest we find in the Lord when we enter into the hereafter. When I read verse 5, I immediately thought of the Galatians 5. Sin’s consequences is exactly opposite of the fruit of the Spirit—not only does sin not have the capacity for love, but sin cannot experience or appreciate the love of another. Sin doesn’t bring joy or peace, but frustration and unrest. We can keep going, but I’ll leave that to you, as you see examples in this chapter of despair.
Lamentations ends without a real ending. There is a plea for restoration (21), but it’s qualified with “Unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.” There is an incredible truth in that awful statement—only the Lord brings real hope. Restoration will only come from the Lord. Finally, Israel understands that for them to experience love, joy, peace, etc., it must come from the Lord. If the Lord has really abandoned them, they are hopeless and they know it—and sometimes that’s a great place to start.
If you’re in a season of difficulty, I hope you’re encouraged. First, things could always be worse. Second, even if God allows believers to experience the consequences of their sin, it is only in part. For those of us in Christ, our eternity is sure—and our eternity is one characterized by rest. God’s promises are irrevocable and even the Babylonian Exile had an ending.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate