Lamentations (Lam)

Book 25 of the OT. Although having only 5 chapters it is still classified as a major prophetic book as it was written by Jeremiah. He wrote this soon after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.  For 40 years, he had warned the people of Judah that continual disobedience to God would result in His judgement and showed that God suffers when His people suffer. Ezekiel had a prophetic ministry about this time too. Time to read: 20 mins.

Key people are Jeremiah and the exiled Jews.

Outline.  He wept for the nation because the warnings had been ignored and judgement had been fulfilled.  The consequences of sin are punishment.  Yet, even in this dark period of history, Jeremiah knew God was a promise-keeping God, and ultimately some Israelites would again settle back in Israel after the period of punishment.  He recognized the disciplinary role of suffering – the Lord has brought grief to the nation because of her many sins (Lam 1:5). However, he believed God doesn’t willingly afflict people and prayed that “our days may be as they were in the past” (Lam 3:33, 5:21).

Main lesson. God’s mercy is evident even when punishing disobedience, but also His mercy doesn’t prevent discipline from happening. Justice and love are balanced one against the other.

Key verses and thoughts: * “My eyes fail from weeping because my people are destroyed” (Lam 2:11). Jeremiah was genuinely heartbroken that the nation was needlessly being decimated – had the people repented of their sin God would have granted them forgiveness and so averted this devastation. What causes us to cry? Personal loss and our pride being wounded, or others who must suffer for their own sinfulness because, by shunning Jesus, they reject the only real solution to their sin and suffering?

* “Because of His great love, we are not consumed, His compassion and faithfulness are fresh each day” (Lam 3:22,23). In the midst of sin and sorrow, Jeremiah held onto this ray of hope – that although because of sin they were experiencing punishment, restoration was also promised to come. When experiencing affliction and tragedy keep in mind His great promises for the future and that God is governed by immense and pure love.

* “Why should we complain when punished for our sin?” Jeremiah asked. Rather, he said, “We should examine our ways and return to the Lord” (Lam 3:39,40). It’s a law of God and society that sin incurs a penalty. One goal of discipline is to produce right behaviour in the future. When experiencing the consequences of past mistakes ensure you learn from them by analyzing what was wrong and seeking to do better next time.

See also: affliction, Babylon, discipline, Jeremiah, prophets.