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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Lamentations

I. OVERVIEW

  • The overall theme of this book of the Bible is one that is looking at the devastated city of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Babylonians and taken into captivity. 

  • One has to be careful, because the book of Lamentations is not in chronological order. Some portions of the book speak about the desolation of Jerusalem after the Babylonians conquered Judah and King Zedekiah. 

  • Some portions of the book go back in time and describe the moment when the Babylonians sieged, which means surrounded Jerusalem, in order to capture it.

II.  JERUSALEM IS DEVASTATED AND TAKEN INTO BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY

  • The Jewish people were already taken into Babylonian captivity for their sins during the reign of the last king of Judah, which was Zedekiah. 

  • Only the remnant of survivors is left in Jerusalem at the time when the author wrote this chapter. 

  • The streets were empty in Jerusalem. 

  • The city had been put into the hands of the Babylonians and had no strength to release itself. 

  • This also shows us that God is sovereign and we cannot do anything without Him (Lamentations 1)! 

  • Though we do not know for sure, it is traditionally thought that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations (Dehoff, 1989). 

  • The author of Lamentations definitely was weeping over the desolate state of Jerusalem. 

  • Unfortunately, the author cries out wishing that God would punish Jerusalem’s enemies.

  • Again, this is an imprecatory prayer and not one that Christians can utter, because we are to pray for the forgiveness of our enemies and love them despite how they treat us (Luke 23:34; Matthew 5:44).

III.  GOD'S ANGER TOWARD JERUSALEM  

  • Lamentations 2: This chapter speaks of the anger of God destroying Jerusalem. 

  • It says that He destroyed the Temple. 

  • He had even taken out His anger upon the king and priests. 

  • Thus, God was angry with both the civil government and the religious leaders of the Jews of Judah causing them to be conquered by Babylon, taken into captivity, and leaving Jerusalem in ruins. 

  • Notice that the destruction caused by the Babylonians (also known as the Chaldeans) was credited to God, Himself. 

  • This is accurate again, because Babylon was only God’s tool to express His anger toward Judah. 

  • It also tells us that God is in control of every nation on the planet. 

  • No one can do any thing without God’s permission. 

  • The author, believed to be Jeremiah, wept over this sad condition of Jerusalem. 

  • As Christians, it should hurt us to see people suffer and move us into doing all that we can to eliminate someone’s burdens (Galatians 6:10).

  • When it comes to our daily food and drink, this also proves that it comes from God no matter how hard we work for it (James 1:17).

  • Thus, Jesus always told us, as Christians, to pray every day for our daily food (Matthew 6:11). 

  • After we receive it, we should give God thanks for His love expressed in this manner (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

  • Part of Jerusalem’s problem that brought on the devastation was false prophets in their midst. 

  • This is why even the church of today can not have false teachers and preachers, because they will incur the wrath of God and cause the people to inherit this same wrath through their influence over the masses. 

  • If the internal suffering in Jerusalem was not bad enough, the enemies of the Jews were rejoicing that all of this devastation had hit them! 

  • What a miserable life indeed. 

  • The prophet seems to have one historical flashback in memory that happened before the total devastation of Jerusalem and Babylonian captivity that occurred in Lamentations 2:1-18. 

  • In verses 19-22, he seems to go back to the moments of battle with Babylon before Babylon succeeded in capturing Jerusalem. 

  • The Babylonians were so brutal during the siege that they killed the young and old men and women and allowed the people to starve inside Jerusalem. 

  • So much so, even babies and young children died of starvation. 

  • On top of that even mothers ate their own children to survive the siege (MacArthur, 2005). 

  • During this siege, the prophet begs for mercy from God to end the suffering and instructs the people to pray for the same thing!

IV.  JEREMIAH'S SUFFERING AND GOD'S COMPASSION

  • Lamentations 3: The author tells us that over the years in his ministry, God caused him to have suffered greatly (Lamentations 3:1-21).

  • He is teaching the Jewish people in Jerusalem that even though God punished them, He is still showing mercy and compassion to Jerusalem, because He did not destroy them completely.

  • He utters some of the most beautiful words ever written as a confirmation of faith in God despite the personal sufferings that he experienced in his ministry as inspiration to the Jewish people. 

  • He tells us that God is faithful, which means that He can be relied upon and that it is good to wait on the salvation of God!

  • Remember, Jeremiah talks about his lifelong struggles that he went through as a testimony to help the Jewish people during their period of struggle. 

  • Can you, Christian, keep your faith in the midst of the storm? 

  • Can you wait on the salvation of the Lord in these times? 

  • Through prayer, all of us can as the author of Lamentations taught in the later part of Lamentations 3 (Philippians 4:6-7, 13; Ephesians 3:16)! 

  • The Lord’s nature is that He will not be separated from His people long due to His anger, because He is compassionate and merciful (Psalm 30:5). 

  • The prophet shows us that the Lord will punish, but He does not want to punish His people when they sin! 

  • He only punishes when He has to (Hebrews 12). 

  • God would rather have us feel guilty about our actions on our own and then repent, instead of using His rod to strike us to make us come out of sin (2 Corinthians 7:10).

  • This applies even to the modern day Christian! 

  • In fact, for the modern-day Christian, when we repent, confess our fault to Him, and pray for forgiveness, then we are forgiven immediately (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). 

  • The prophet calls the Jewish people to repent of their sins in Lamentations 3 as well!

X.  THE BESIEGE OF JERUSALEM BY THE BABYLONIANS FORETOLD

  • Lamentations 4: The time period that Lamentations 4 is talking about is when the Babylonians sieged Jerusalem before the actual complete conquest of these Jews. 

  • The starvation inside of the city was so bad that Jeremiah said it would have been better to have been killed with the sword like others instead of suffering from the massive hunger inside Jerusalem (Lamentations 4:9).

  • The mothers actually ate their children in response to the starvation (Lamentations 4:10). 

  • The Jews of Judah depended on Egypt to deliver them from Babylon during the siege, but again, Egypt abandoned them and the Babylonians came back and captured Jerusalem anyway as God had foretold (Lamentations 4:17; Jeremiah 37:5-10) (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, 2004).

XI.  THE WOES OF BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY

  • Lamentations 5: This is the final chapter in this great book of the Bible. 

  • It speaks of the awful sufferings of the Jews left in Judah under the Babylonians after the captivity. 

  • The Jews were put into the slavery of manual labor, famine was in the land, their women raped, etc. 

  • The prophet acknowledges that the Jews of Judah have sinned and begs that their days of prosperity would return to them again.
     

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