Rely on the Lordís Faithfulness

 

Background Passage: Lamentations 1:1-5:22

Lesson Passage: Lamentations 3:19-33, 37-39

 

Introduction: This little book records a series of laments or funeral dirges concerning the fall of Jerusalem (c. 587 B.C.).The great city, once the crown jewel of Jewish culture, lay in ruin.The Jewish people, with the exception of a small remnant, had been deported.The beautiful buildings, including Solomonís Temple, had been razed.The glorious culture of Godís people seemed so devastated that no one could imagine that Judah would ever recover.The sensitive heart of Jeremiah was broken by the sight of the once magnificent city in ruin.To give vent to his grief, the prophet penned a series of funeral poems.These verses stir the heart so deeply that Jewish people still recite them annually, and, during Holy Week, liturgical Christian churches read sections from Lamentations.

 

An ancient tradition says that Jeremiah wrote this book, from a quarry north of Jerusalem, shortly after the fall of the city.The book was written anonymously, but conservative scholars (E.J. Young, Gleason Archer, and William Hendriksen) affirm the probable authorship of Jeremiah.The poems follow an acrostic pattern, each verse beginning with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (twenty-two letters).Chapter Four has sixty six verses, and, in the original language, three successive verses begin with the same letter; then, the next three verses start with the next Hebrew letter.Chapter Five does not follow the acrostic pattern.

 

Lamentations underscores some very important lessons for Christians.The book affirms the faithfulness of God to his word.As we discovered in our study of the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet gave unmistakable warnings to Judah concerning the impending judgment of God.Unfortunately, the people of Judah refused to hear and obey the Lordís word.Perhaps they reasoned that God would change his mind; or, they may have convinced themselves that Jeremiah exaggerated the displeasure of the Lord with their disobedience. Decades of faithful preaching had met with the studied and persistent disregard of the people.They discovered, with tragic and devastating consequences, that God keeps his word.Furthermore, this book wonderfully reminds us of the Lordís faithfulness to his covenant of grace.The people of Judah had sinned horribly, and they justly deserved God sentence of judgment; nevertheless, the Lord remained faithful to his purpose of mercy for his people.Lamentations contains very encouraging words concerning the Lordís pledge to save and preserve his children.

 

Also, this book teaches us that men may glorify God by giving expression to a full range of human emotion.American evangelicals seem to believe that joy is the only legitimate passion that one should convey in worship.The Bible paints a very different figure.God created men with a full array of emotions, and these may be expressed properly in God-honoring worship.Jeremiah felt deep grief at the destruction of Jerusalem; yet, he also honored God as he poured out the sorrow of his heart.There is an appropriate way to worship God in all the circumstances of life.God does not call his people to an emotionless stoicism. Surely this book reminds us that our worship of God should display this wonderful variety and that the gospel strengthens and comforts Christians in all circumstances of life.

 

Above all, Lamentations reinforces our understanding of the sovereignty of God.He, indeed, works all things after the counsel of his own will.He uses the nations to serve his purposes, and, in due time, he will accomplish all of his perfect will.No earthly power can resist him, and no circumstance can circumvent his decrees.Take heart, dear Christian friend, the Lord is at work. Nothing escapes his notice, and he has a loving and sovereign purpose in all the occurrences of life.

 

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                    The First Lament (1:1-22)

A.     The dismal appearance of the fallen city (vv. 1-3)

1.      Jerusalem like a grieving widow (v. 1)

2.      Like a forsaken mistress (v. 2)

3.      A city without comfort or rest (vv. 3-4)

B.     The city mourns for its lost splendor (vv. 5-9)

C.     Jerusalem disgraced before her adversaries (vv. 10-11)

D.     Jerusalem grieves for its destruction (vv. 12-22)

1.      God brought this destruct on Jerusalem (vv. 12-15)

2.      Jerusalem wept for its ruin and found no comfort (vv. 16-17)

3.      Judah acknowledged Godís justice in destroying the city (vv. 18-19)

4.      Jerusalem called upon the Lord in her distress (vv. 2-22)

 

II.                 The Second Lament (2:1-22)

A.     God Brought Judgment on Judah (vv. 1-10)

1.      God took no pity on Judah (vv. 1-3)

2.      The Lord became Judahís enemy (vv. 4-7)

3.      God rejected the unworthy worship of Judah (vv. 8-10)

B.     Jerusalem wept for its miserable condition (vv. 11-17)

1.      The bitter suffering of the city (vv. 11-13)

2.      Judahís enemies mocked her (vv. 14-17)

C.     Judah cried to the Lord in her misery (vv. 18-22)

1.      Bitter tears availed nothing (vv. 18-19)

2.      Even the helpless suffered because of Judahís sin (vv. 20-22)

 

III.               The Third Lament (3:1-66)

A.     The prophetís grief (vv. 1-21)

1.      The spiritual and physical consequences of Jeremiahís grief (vv.1-9)

2.      Jeremiah became the ridicule of the people of Judah (vv. 10-21)

B.     The prophetís hope in the loving mercy of the Lord (vv. 22-39)

1.      The Lordís compassions fail not (vv. 22-25)

2.      The believerís duty in times of difficulty (vv. 26-30)

3.      The Lordís sovereignty in judgment and mercy (vv. 31-39)

C.     The prophetís heartfelt call to repentance (vv. 40-42)

D.     The hardship of the prophetís suffering (vv. 43-54)

1.      The difficulty of prayer (vv. 43-45)

2.      The prophetís grief and tears (vv. 46-51)

3.      The persecution of the prophet (vv. 52-54)

E.      The prophetís plea for mercy and vindication (vv. 55-66)

1.      The prophetís hope that God would draw near (vv. 55-60)

2.      The prophetís plea that God would vindicate him (vv. 61-66)

 

IV.              The Fourth Lament (4:1-22)

A.     The degradation of Judah (vv. 1-12)

1.      The land made worthless (vv. 1-5)

2.      Judahís punishment greater than that of Sodom (v. 6)

3.      The desperation of the people (vv. 7-12)

B.     The causes of Judahís destruction (vv. 13-22)

1.      The failure of the religious leaders (vv. 13-20)

2.      Judah sought security in alliances with idolatrous nations (vv. 17-20)

C.     Reason for hope in the Lord (vv. 21-22)

 

V.                 Jeremiahís Intercession for Judah (5:1-22)

A.     Jeremiah asked God to remember Judah in her misery (vv. 1-18)

B.     A plea for the Lord to remember mercy (vv. 19-22)

 

 

Observations from the Lesson Passage:

1.      Godís chastening brings bitter consequences (3:19).The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the unpleasantness of Godís dealings with his disobedient children (See Hebrews 12:11).

2.      The bitter experiences of life are endured and made sweet by remembering the character of God.In the span of two verses Jeremiah took comfort in three attributes of God: his mercy, his compassion, and his faithfulness (vv. 22-23).Take some time to reflect on these glorious attributes of God.

3.      Jeremiah proclaimed that God was his portion (See v. 24).This reminds me of Godís words to Abraham in Genesis 15:1.ďÖI am your shield and your exceeding great reward.ĒJeremiah, though he felt the staggering loss of Jerusalem, found consolation in the presence and approval of the Lord.The Babylonians could not take that from him.

4.      Times of affliction and chastening call for the believer to remain quietly confident in the Lord (v. 25-27).†† How often we are tempted to chafe and struggle in the hour of difficulty!God calls us to humble submission and trust in his goodness and grace.

5.      Godís chastening is purposeful (See vv. 31-33).We may not see the Lordís purpose in the hardship, but he remains faithful and steadfast to his purpose of love for us.He does not delight in the chastening, but, in due season, the difficulty will bring fruit of holiness and greater obedience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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