What happens when you die?
If we die without honoring God in our hearts we will regret it forever!
Lamentations chapter 3
By Craig C. White
What happens when you die? What is it like in the grave? Are you aware of your plight? The Bible answers these questions. The answer is that you are very much aware of your situation. For the believer in Jesus Christ your spirit is kept safely and in peace with God until the resurrection. The unbeliever however is painfully aware of the confinement of the grave and also laments their rejection of God. From the grave the unbeliever’s circumstances only get worse when all of those confined to the grave get tossed into the lake of fire forever!
Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Here is one mans account of death and the grave. This is the fate that every unbeliever can expect when they die. Surprisingly these verses also describe Jesus Christ’s death. Christ suffered the death of a sinner to pay the penalty of sin for us, but we must believe that he did and we must receive his payment on or own behalf!
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Lamentations chapter 3 begins with the account of a suffering Jewish man. He has suffered God’s wrath through Israel’s terrible time of judgment. He has been despised by God and has suffered death. But here is the surprise. This man’s account of suffering and God’s rejection is also describing Jesus Christ’s suffering and death on the cross! We should ask ourselves, “what is this doing here?”
Lamentations 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
This is describing a particular man. He has suffered God’s punishment by the outburst of God’s passionate anger. God will punish the nation of Israel during their seven year long period of tribulation. The people of Israel have not trusted God’s word. He told them to drive out their enemies from the land. Instead they have said we must live together with our enemies. Likewise every person has the choice to trust God and his word. If we do not trust him then we will also suffer the punishment of God’s anger.
God’s anger is only satisfied by his punishment. No person can endure God’s punishment and live (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death;). But God became a man in Jesus Christ to suffer God’s punishment for us so that we could live. What is the description of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death doing in the middle of Lamentations? Jesus Christ’s suffering satisfies God’s wrath. Jesus Christ’s death satisfies God’s anger for disobedience even for the terrible time of Israel’s tribulation. God can apply Christ’s suffering to our disobedience only when we trust him. When the nation of Israel repents at the end of the Tribulation period and believes God then the punishment of God’s anger will be satisfied by Jesus Christ’s suffering and death. Their chastisement will end.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Lamentations 3:2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. 3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. 4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.
God brought Jesus to death and not life. God has turned against the man. God has caused every bad thing to happen to this man all day long. God has caused the man’s body and skin to be consumed and his bones to break.
These verses describe the suffering of a certain Jewish man during the Tribulation. Intertwined is also a depiction of Jesus Christ’s suffering. Jesus never suffered any broken bones on the cross fulfilling King David’s prophecy in Psalm 34:20 “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken”. These verses also describe the suffering that any man should expect to endure who has not trusted God.
Lamentations 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
Above, God has devised disastrous events to befall this man. Gall is a poisonous plant. Jesus was offered gall while he was on the cross to hasten his death and end his suffering. He refused it.
Matthew 27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
Lamentations 3:6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. 7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
Above, God has caused this man to die. He is in the darkness of the grave just like men that have been dead for ages. He cannot get out! He is imprisoned and shackled with a heavy metal chain.
Below, this man is shouting out from the prison of his grave to be freed, but God keeps the man’s request a buried secret. This is the suffering that Jesus Christ endured on behalf of all of us. This is the suffering that any man should expect to endure who has not trusted God.
Lamentations 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. 9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.
Above, this man is dead. God has blocked this man’s course of life. He cannot move. He is entombed with stone all around him. He cannot walk down the road where he wishes. Instead his path leads nowhere. He can only search out his own ruin.
Lamentations 3:10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. 11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.
Above, God has pounced on this man like a ferocious wild beast lying in wait. He has torn his body apart. Jesus was beaten and whipped worse than any man (Mat 27:26-30). Isaiah predicted the beating that the Messiah would suffer.
Isaiah 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
The prophet Amos uses this same language to describe the day of the LORD which is the same as Israel’s Tribulation period. It is a time of God’s judgment for Israel as well as a time of judgment for the entire world. You want to escape this terrible time of trouble.
Amos 5:18-19 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. 19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Lamentations 3:12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. 13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
Above, God has pulled back the string of his bow and taken aim at the man. God’s arrows have penetrated inside of the man’s body.
Lamentations 3:14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
Verse 14 above describes the animosity and insult that the Jewish people showed for Jesus as he was beaten, condemned to die, and nailed to a cross. Many of his own Jewish people cried out for his death and insulted him as he suffered.
Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
Lamentations 3:15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. 16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. 17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
Above, this man is still speaking from the grave. He is filled with sorrow. It is as if he has drunk poison. To cover with ashes portrays a dead body lying in the street covered with gravel and ashes being trampled over by traffic. This man’s has forgotten God’s promise of eternal life.
Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: 19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
Above, this man is dead. His hope of life and knowing God is gone. From the grave he still remembers his suffering. His soul bows down. He surrenders to God’s chastisement.
What should we learn from Lamentations? First, every person must confront death, and there is an eternal grave to escape! If we die without honoring God in our hearts we will regret it forever! Second, Jesus Christ’s suffering satisfies God’s wrath. Only when we trust God can he then apply Jesus’ suffering to our disobedience and satisfy his wrath towards us. This applies to the disobedience of Israel and it also applies to the disobedience of every heart.