The Heart of God: The Decline and Fall of Israel (6)
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Read and meditate on the book of Lamentations.
Lamentations is a carefully crafted poem weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem and longing for the day of God’s renewing grace. Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5 have 22 verses, each verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 3 follows this same pattern, but changes the lead letter every three verses. This way of writing was designed to aid hearers in remembering the message. Why does God want us to remember to weep for the judgment of His people?
1. According to Jeremiah, why did Jerusalem come to judgment? What were her sins, and how is it apparent she did not remain faithful to God’s covenant?
2. What was the role of kings, elders, priests, and prophets in the downfall of Jerusalem? How should this counsel leaders of God’s covenant people today?
3. Meditate on Lamentations 3.22-33. These verses appear smack in the middle of Lamentations. What is their message, and why do you suppose Jeremiah inserted them just here?
4. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 4.7-18. How do you see that Paul is picking up on Lamentations 4.1-6, identifying with it, yet showing us how to go on through this situation?
5. Notice how Lamentations ends (5.19-22). What is Israel’s – and our – only hope? Is it in our ability to keep covenant with God, or God’s determination to keep covenant with us? Explain.
Both the message and form (acrostic poem) of Lamentation show us that God thinks it is important that His people express awareness of and regret for their sins, even as they rejoice in the hope of their salvation. Why don’t we do this in our churches these days?
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”
Let Israel now say—
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed on my back;
They made their furrows long.”
The LORD is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.
Let all those who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned back.
Let them be as the grass on the housetops,
Which withers before it grows up,
With which the reaper does not fill his hand,
Nor he who binds sheaves, his arms.
Neither let those who pass by them say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
T. M. Moore
Two books can help you gain a fuller understanding of the terrain we will be covering in this series. Kingdom Documents provides a concise overview of the primary teaching of the Old and New Testaments, and shows, through early Church creeds, how our forebears understood the primary teachings of God’s Word. (click here to order). I Will Be Your Goddevelops more fully the idea of God’s covenant and leads us to consider the practical implications of our covenant relationship with God (click here).
Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, offers a parallel study of our theme in this series, using brief video presentations and the workbook God’s Covenant: An Introduction. All courses at The Ailbe Seminary are available without charge.
We are happy to be able to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.