Should we ‘CELEBRATE’ the MISFORTUNE of our ENEMIES?
August 25 Bible Reading: Lamentations Chapters 4-5
"Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked. The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity. He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins!" (Lam. 4:21-22)
The prophet Jeremiah had every reason to feel vindicated and excessively self-satisfied at the tragedy that had befallen the city of Jerusalem and the country of Judah. After all, he had prophesied that the nation of Babylon would soon attack and subdue them if they would not turn back to following Jehovah God. But as he reflected on the tragic destruction of Jerusalem, he reacted not with a celebration, but with tears and tender sympathy. His heart was broken over the events that had happened to his people, and the dirge recorded in the book of Lamentations is an outpouring of his grief and anguish. This ‘weeping prophet’ speaks to us today how we should react to the pain and suffering of others. We should be driven by compassion for other people, especially when they are hurting.
This was not the manner in which the people of Edom, Judah’s neighbor to the south, reacted when they heard the news of the fall of Jerusalem. Instead of showing any kind of empathy towards their neighbors, they were delighted to hear this news. The psalmist records their true reaction in his prayer: "Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, "Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!" (Ps. 137:7) This is hardly surprising since the Edomites were ancient enemies of the Israelites, despite having a common ancestry through Esau, the eldest son of Isaac and the elder brother of Jacob (see Gen. 25:30; 36:1, 9).
The two verses referenced above (Lam. 4:21-22) draws a contrast between the country of Israel and her gentile neighboring country, Edom. Though Edom rejoiced over Jerusalem’s calamity now, this bitter ‘cup’ would someday be passed to her. The ‘cup’ is often used as a symbol of divine judgment (see Ps. 75:8; Isa. 51:17, 22; Ezek. 23:31–34; Rev. 14:10; 16:19), and drinking from such a ‘cup’ gives a picture of being forced to undergo judgment (see Jer. 25:15–28). We know that our Lord Jesus Christ drank the ‘cup’ of divine wrath against sin for all humanity (see Mark 10:38; 14:36; John 18:11).
God was judging Jerusalem for her sin at the moment, but He would also judge Edom for her sins shortly. “Rejoice and be glad” probably means “Laugh away, but you too will be judged and made to drink the cup of God’s wrath” (Jer. 25:15). Even though Edom rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah, it is certain that one day she will be punished severely as her sins will be laid bare while Israel will be restored. Jerusalem could look forward to restoration, but Edom will receive severe judgment from God soon (see Obad. 8–14; Jer. 49:7–22). In contrast to Edom, God will offer a reprieve to His people because of His mercy and compassion towards them (see Jer. 42:10-12; 49:7–22; 50:20).
Unlike the people of Edom, we should not celebrate the misfortune of either our friends or, even our enemies! God’s Word never encourages God’s people to be happy when others suffer, even if they deserve to suffer. The love that God calls us to “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Let us remember that our Lord Jesus Christ wept over the city of Jerusalem that would be razed to the ground and destroyed in 70 A.D. instead of feeling satisfied at the ‘just’ punishment for crucifying Him on the cross shortly (Matthew 23:37-39). In the similar manner, instead of gloating over the misery of our enemies, we should pray that somehow their circumstances will turn them toward God, and away from the evil that has perpetrated into their lives today.