Monday, September 10, 2012

Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Jerusalem





Scripture

Our skin has become as hot as an oven, Because of the burning heat of famine.
(Lamentations 5:10 NASB)
They ravished the women in Zion, The virgins in the cities of Judah.
(Lamentations 5:11 NASB)
Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,
(Lamentations 5:21 NASB)

 

Observation


Lest we think that the issues facing our world today are new, we find similar circumstances in the writings of Jeremiah. The people who were left in Jerusalem were starving, searching on a daily basis for food. When Jerusalem was overtaken the women were raped -- right there in God's city, in Zion. And now the victims are suffering and trying to survive from one day to the next. Jeremiah cries out to God, for he knows that salvation can only come from him. He prays for restoration, that the Israelites may be able to again step into the relationship they had with their God, for only in this was there hope!

 

Application


It is amazing how history repeats itself and how human behavior doesn't seem to change. Today in Africa there are people starving and in the midst of the famine we find people under unusual stress. Why is it that stress seems to bring out the very worst in human behavior? This stress in Africa has had a similar result as it did in Jeremiah's day. The women are raped, the virgins are defiled! Somehow in the midst of our panic of hunger we use and abuse others around us. It was true in Jeremiah's day, it's true today and it's been repeated over and over again. Although here in Lamentations, in Jeremiah's tears we find a solution. The answer to these horrible situations is to be found in humanities restoration in relationship to God.

When our relationship to God gets out of focus, or when we allow the things of this world to take over the place of God in our lives the end result is destruction. Just as the children of Israel experienced personal pleasure for a period of time, and had been warned of the destructive nature of their behavior, still they chose to go in the direction of worldly pleasures. They probably thought that God didn't really mean it, or the results couldn't really be that bad, or that God really does love everyone and he won't allow anything bad to happen to them. However, this relationship with God is two-sided. It is a covenant relationship in which God desires his people to be faithful to him and in return he does everything in loving and caring for his children. That's why Jeremiah uses the word "restore." Just as a couple who experiences difficulties in their marriage and infidelity -- their relationship must be restored. Our relationship with God must be destroyed if we are to tackle the issues of violence against one another which are the result of sin.

GBV, sadly, is nothing new. What's amazing is that it's been around for so long and we've been unable to do anything about it. Why is it that the church has been silent on the issue? Jeremiah was crying out to God about GBV thousands of years ago! We must cry out to God about GBV today, but we must also look at the root of the issue. First of all, God's people must be in a right relationship with him. We must put aside the things of the world that distract us and focus on him. We must be faithful to our loving God. We must also cry out to him and intercede for those who are victims in this world. We cannot leave them alone to fend for themselves but just like Jeremiah we are called to be their intercessors. And ultimately, we must be willing to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our world, because the root of the problem is a corrupted relationship between God and man. We will not fix problems of GBV by simply trying to treat the symptoms without going to the root of the cause. The cause is that humanity is not a relationship with God. We must be willing to be God's instruments who share the news of the transforming work of God in our lives and in our world which are possible by way of a personal relationship with him. This is the best news the world can ever hear and continues to be in need of hearing to this day. The Christian's response must be a wholistic response, both the spiritual and the physical.

GBV -- it's nothing new, but that may that not be an excuse to allow it to continue in the world. May we take action with the gospel, food, counseling, treatment, laws, water, and education -- to make a difference!

 

Prayer


Lord, thank you for allowing us to learn from the past, but please help me through your leading to make a difference for the future. Amen.

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