Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Lametations "Total Anguish" 3/3|
Chapter: Lam 3
Passage: Lam 3:52-66
A. Find Out:
1. What 3 pictures does he use to convey what happened? v.52-54
2. So what did he do? v.55
3. What response did he get? v.56,57
4. What does he know the Lord has seen and heard? v.58-63
5. What does he ask the Lord to do? v.64
6. How does he extend that? v.65,66
1. What 3 stages of awareness come through now in these verses?
2. How does that lead him to pray and why do you think that is?
In the previous part of this chapter the writer had come through to a place of acknowledging the Lord's sovereignty and their sin and subsequent need for repentance. He has been reiterating the awfulness of what has happened and he concludes that with 3 figurative pictures describing what has happened to him: he had been hunted, put into a pit and stoned and it felt like he was about to be drowned death was very near. But in that place he called out to the Lord in desperation and was aware of the Lord drawing near and reassuring him.
That had been a turning point. Up until then despair had almost overwhelmed him, but now there is hope, God is there, communication is open. See the order: the Lord heard (v.56), came near (v.57) and took up his case (v.58). Then he becomes aware that the Lord has seen and heard all that has gone on, the Lord KNOWS the wrongs that were committed in this act of judgement. It seems more likely he is writing as Jerusalem again plotted against and mocked. In the face of the Lord's presence, he is now aware of the unrighteousness of the enemies of Jerusalem . Elsewhere in prophetic Scripture the Lord speaks against the wrong attitudes of those He had used to bring judgement, and He will not let that go; He will deal with it. It is that sense that the prophet catches as he prays and asks the Lord to come and deal with these enemies of Jerusalem , for that is right.
1. When we become aware of the Lord, we see the truth more clearly.
2. Truth demands that unrighteousness be dealt with.
Chapter: Lam 4
Passage: Lam 4:1-10
A. Find Out:
1. What is the first thing identified that has changed? v.1
2. Who are next mentioned as changed? v.2
3. Whose state is next covered? v.3,4
4. Who and what are next contrasted? v.5
5. Who next are contrasted? v.7,8
6. Who are the final group contrasted? v.10
1. How is this like a poetic news documentary film?
2. What seems to be the main idea conveyed?
Having come to a place of repentance, the prophet does not just say, Oh, it's all right now! No, he has to live with the carnage. This isn't a case of OK we can move on now because the nature of what happened means it will take years if not decades to get over it if ever!
The writer now gives us snap shots of the changes that have taken place. This is like a bird's-eye view documentary, picking up on specific illustrations of things that have changed, things that have to be coped with now.
The city once was known for its gold, but no longer (v.1). Actually the real gold, the real value of Jerusalem were the people, especially the young men who would be come its future but now they have been dashed and reshaped (v.2). The children of Jerusalem once knew prosperity but now they are waifs and strays who are hungry and thirsty (v.4) like modern pictures of famine. Once the affluent people ate well and dressed well, but now the few that are left are penniless in the streets while other bodies are piled in the ashes of pyres (v.5), which remind one of the judgement of Sodom (v.6). The princes in the palace were once well known for good, clean looks, but now the few that are left are dirty, starving, bags of bones (v.7,8). Most terrible of all, the mothers who were once so compassionate, have become cannibals, even killing and eating their own children to survive (v.10). How terrible.
1. Judgement has long term effects which do not just go away.
Chapter: Lam 4
Passage: Lam 4:11-17
A. Find Out:
1. What 4 things does he say that the Lord has done? v.11
2. Who didn't believe what could happen? v.12
3. Yet why did it happen? v.13
4. So how are they described? v.14,15
5. What happened to their relationship with the Lord? v.16
6. What was it futile to do? v.17
1. What had Jerusalem been like previously?
2. How do you think the prophets & priests failed?
3. So what is their plight now?
Some things are hard to imagine. The great stronghold of Jerusalem being entered by its enemies had been one such thing that had been difficult to imagine. But there it is now, in places burnt down even to the foundations. And why? Because those who supposedly represented God to the people had badly failed to do so! Prophets are supposed to call the people back to God with the word from God. Priests are supposed to lead the people to God, and neither group had done their job, so that the people and their leaders went right away from God. Even worse they had encouraged unrighteousness.
These men who had supposed to have been holy, men in contact with the holy God, carrying a sense of the awesomeness of God, now wandered the streets like destitute beggars. They stagger around the streets, groping around like blind men, overwhelmed by what has happened to them. They are the cause of all this, the blood of the people is on them and the people know it deep down and so they are outcasts and no one will go near them! Even more than that, the world sees and knows and no one else wants to know them either. They have no honour because they have dishonoured the Lord. They looked and looked for someone to come and save them, but there was no one and so they looked in vain!
1. God's representatives have a high level of accountability.
2. God's children generally have a high level of responsibility.
Chapter: Lam 4
Passage: Lam 4:18-22
A. Find Out:
1. What had happened to them? v.18,19
2. What wrong thought had they held onto? v.20
3. Who is told to rejoice? v.21a
4. Yet what will happen to them? v.21b
5. What will eventually happen to Jerusalem ? v.22a
6. But what will God yet do? v.22b
1. What picture of the thoroughness of the judgement is given?
2. How had their thinking been false?
3. Why will Edom be judged?
This passage has two distinct halves: first the continuation of the lament over what had happened to them, then a warning to Edom . First the continued lament. No one had come to save them and eventually the siege had come to an end with the enemy breaching the defences and pouring in. They poured through the city cleaning out the inhabitants and even those who hid were stalked (v.18) and so those who could, fled but they were chased across the country (v.19); there was no escape. They had thought that because they were special in God's eyes they would be saved (v.20) but they weren't!
Second, the warning. Edom had stood aloof and had refused to join an alliance with Israel and Egypt against Babylon . Edom had always been an enemy and had just looked on with satisfaction and eventually Nebuchadnezzar had rewarded their neutrality with some of Israel 's land. Your turn will come, says the prophet. Don't think you will escape. God will deal with your sin and wickedness. The same fate awaits you. You will be stripped by the enemy in the same way!
Now notice in the midst of this a statement of faith: Jerusalem , God will not prolong your exile! i.e. it will not be for ever, there will be an end to it. There is an end to this punishment. In the light of all the anguish he is feeling this is a remarkable declaration of faith and hope!
1. Don't rejoice over the disciplining of others. Watch yourself!
2. Discipline never lasts for ever. There will be an end.
Chapter: Lam 5
Passage: Lam 5:1-10
A. Find Out:
1. What is his cry to the Lord? v.1
2. How are they under other people? v.2,5,8,9
3. How have they been decimated as a people? v.3
4. How are they suffering shortages? 4,9,10
5. Why had this happened? v.6,7
2. In what ways does the writer show their plight?
3. What awareness does he give of the reason for it?
In many ways this chapter seems a summary or synopsis of what has gone before. In this first section of it the writer calls to the Lord (v.1) to look and see the effect of His judgement and in this part he focuses on their plight as caused by foreigners.
He reminds the Lord that Israel and Jerusalem was their inheritance and (implied) it was given by the Lord. But now, this land given to God's people has been taken away from them and given to foreigners (v.2). These aliens had come and decimated the population of Judah and Jerusalem and so now the few that are left have had whole parts of their families taken and they alone are left (v.3). The enemy still pursued them (v.5) and the land is in the hands of slaves, those under the rule of Babylon (v.8).
Economically they are in dire straights. Water now costs them (v.4) and the only wood available has to be bought. If they want bread (v.9) they have to go looking for someone in the countryside who might make it and in doing this they expose themselves to the risk of being hunted and killed. In the heat of the day, without food (v.10) they are feverish. And the reason for all this? They sinned (v.7) and had turned to Egypt and Assyria (v.6) and not the Lord for help and provision. Rejecting His help they fell to the enemy, hence their present plight.
1. Do we look to people or the Lord for our provision?
Chapter: Lam 5
Passage: Lam 5:11-18
A. Find Out:
1. What had happened to their women? v.11
2. What had happened to their leaders? v.12,14a
3. What was the place of young men and children now? v.13,14b
4. How has life changed and why? v.15,16
5. How has that left them feeling about Jerusalem ? v.17,18a
6. What is the closing picture of Jerusalem ? v.18b
1. How does looking at people tell of the disaster?
2. What is their emotional state at the end of all this?
3. What does the final picture convey?
If you go to an art shop you may find a painting by numbers' kit that enables the person with no painting skill to fill in the picture with the right colours. The writer of Lamentations is a bit like that. He fills in bit by bit the terrible picture that is Jerusalem at the time of his writing.
The earlier verses had more generally conveyed the plight of Jerusalem but here he paints in more detail. Women had been ravaged by the plundering hordes, the leaders had been summarily dealt with or just cast aside as worthless, and the generation of older men had been decimated so that only young men and children are left to scrabble for survival in the ruins. A city that once knew joy and noise is now silent and mourning. The city that once wore a crown as a city that stood out with authority and prosperity has been brought down.
Consider what those remaining now feel about Jerusalem in the twofold description: first their hearts faint. There is no strength left in them, they feel weak. But then, our eyes grow dim for Mount Zion . Their hopes and dreams for this once wonderful city are dashed and they wonder if there is any future. No wonder as they look at the piles of burnt stones with the wind blowing through with no resistance. It is a city left to the wild animals to have free access. The walls have gone and the people are decimated. It is now a ruined place for the wildlife!
1. Calamity should act as a warning to us.
2. We thus need to understand and feel the extent of the calamity.
A. Find Out:
1. What does he declare about the Lord? v.19
2. What two questions does he ask of the Lord? v.20
3. What does he ask the Lord to do? v.21a
4. So that what may happen? v.21b
5. What two things might preclude that happening? v.22
1. How does verse 19 almost come as a surprise after the previous verses?
2. Yet what does he obviously still believe?
3. What does he almost seem to push the Lord to deny?
Like any good prophet, as he looks the situation in the face and sees the awfulness of it, he still declares the Lord's sovereignty. He's been sure of that a number of times in this book and he reiterates it now: the Lord reigns. The implication? That this is not an accident and Jerusalem is still under the Lord's control and its future is still in His hands. It is with that in mind that he asks questions of the Lord. Why do you seem to forget and forsake us for so long is his first question. It's not a grumbling demand; it is the precursor to what follows. Behind his questions seems the underlying sense of him saying to the Lord, do you really want to do this? In that he is truly prophetic for the Lord's heart is always restoration of the remnant and the role of the prophet is to catch the Lord's heart and reflect it back to Him.
He follows this first questioning with a request for restoration. It is first a restoration to the Lord Himself, for he knows that nothing less than this will enable Israel to return to Jerusalem . Bring us back to the relationship we had with you in days of old, is what he asks and then he adds a condition, but again it is a condition that is seeking to provoke the Lord to deny it. Lord do this he cries, that is unless you have utterly rejected us and your anger is beyond measure. He knows that the Lord has promised restoration (Jer 25:11,12), so this is a faith call!
1. In adversity can we acclaim the Lord's sovereignty?
2. Can we call on the Lord in accord with His declared word?
The Physical effect on Jerusalem
The effect on the People
The effect on the leaders
The economic state of Jerusalem
How her enemies view her
Comeback on her enemies
What Jerusalem feels
The cause for all this
Calls to the Lord
The Lord's Sovereignty
These laments are a combination of
In the midst of the lamentations over the things that happened when Jerusalem was sacked, is a constant awareness that this was not an accident. It was the purposeful judgement of God brought upon Jerusalem and Judah for their ongoing sin. Often, in this respect, there is no distinction made between 'Jerusalem' and the people. The fact is that sin brought this on the city, the sin of the people that make up Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not merely buildings; it is the people, they are Jerusalem.
Although there is a terrible awareness of the awfulness of what had happened, there is also an element of hope that is born out of a knowledge of the Lord. There are a number of calls to the Lord which indicate that the writer does not feel he has been utterly cut off from the Lord, even though he expresses that at one point.
In a poetic form, Lamentations is an amazing documentary following the destruction of Jerusalem that includes both facts and feelings.
What should it say to us today? Perhaps it should be a warning, possibly stronger than anywhere else in the Bible, that the threat and execution of the judgement of God should not be thought of lightly.
Although we as Christians should not be in fear and trepidation over occasional lapses, the warning is there that God does deal with His ongoing sinful people. We should remember that this judgement only came after warning after warning had been given by God through His prophets and it came on an entire people because as a people they were His and thus had a high level of accountability. Romans 1 gives us the way that God tends to deal more generally with wayward peoples He steps back and gives them over to the sinfulness of their ways which are self destructive. Yet the Bible suggests that God will bring disciplinary acts of judgement upon peoples generally (other nations around Israel ) to deal with their sin and to turn hearts back to Him where that is possible. Serious stuff!