GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today we begin the book of Lamentations. It’s gonna go fast, though, so don’t blink!
We finish it tomorrow!
Today’s readings are Lamentations 1-3:36
Quick Facts About This Book
- The Hebrew name for this book is Eikhah, which follows the pattern of many books in that their title is taken from the first word or phrase of the book. In this case Eikhah can be translated as “How”, usually in a questioning sense.
- Lamentations is considered by many to be the work of Jeremiah the prophet.
- Some commentaries describe these books as both poetic and prophetic.
- Lamentations is a collection of five poems which mourn the destruction of both Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah.
- Each chapter begins a new poem. Originally, (before translating), each line in the first four poems began with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and went through the entirety of the alphabet in order.
We begin with a scene of Jeremiah, “taking in” what Jerusalem has become after the Babylonian siege. Recall how persistently he warned Israel this would happen, and now the city is desolate, his warnings having fallen on deaf ears.
Although this is a book of great sorrow, it is also one of hope as we will see Judah return, the Father having foretold them ahead of time that He would show them Grace and bring them back. Keep in mind, as we read, that the Father did not want to do this. He set out warning, time and again, calling to His people to return to Him but they would not. They were boastful and proud of their own folly, considering their own wisdom as superior to His.
What do you do when a child refuses to turn from their ways? You allow them to feel the consequences of those actions. Judgement has come. A judgement that YHWH’s people had ample warning and opportunity to avoid. In the end, they chose it.
Lamentations 1:4 The roads to Zion mourn, for none come to the festival…
The original word for “festival” here is moedim or appointed time. This is referring to the Biblical Feasts. When the temple existed, three of these feasts involved traveling there: Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, & Sukkot.
Lamentations 1:5 Her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper, because YHWH has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions…
Again, in our western mindset we tend to see this as harsh. But as a good parent, if you had a child persistently disobeying, chasing after trouble, perhaps engaging in illegal activity, would you not discipline them in hopes of them turning from the error of their ways? Consider all that YHWH had done for Judah and how painfully, boldly, and willfully they turned from Him. This is not the act of a parent who wants to cast aside their child, but of a parent who dearly loves their child, enough to do the hard things in order for them to seek Him once more.
These texts depict the pain, devastation, and heart wrenching momentary loss of hope that Judah feels at having received their punishment. Already, according to plan, they are expressing regret and turning towards the Father.
“Look, YHWH, for I am in distress; my stomach churns; my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious…” Lamentations 1:20
Chapter 2 starts with a description of YHWH’s actions as a result of Judah’s transgressions. The beginning of this poem is told more from the point of view of YHWH. Lamentations 2:19-22 seems to switch back to a response from the people as they try in earnest to pour out their heart to YHWH.
Lamentations 2:7 brings to mind the Maccabean revolt.
The books of Maccabees are part of the Biblical canon for some churches but generally not Protestant or some branches of Judaism. They are considered historical accounts of the time that is often referred to as “the silent period” between the “old” testament and the “new” testament. There are several historical records of what took place during this time and Maccabees is one of them. These books were in the Septuagant (Greek) and Vulgate (Latin), which are some of the earlier Bibles that many of our modern versions are translated from.
I am comfortable mentioning this as there is nothing in 1 or 2 Maccabees that I have seen which contradicts the word or teachings of YHWH. Maccabees 1 and 2 were also in the 1611 King James Bible.
Maccabees is a moving, inspiring, historical account of YHWH’s people when faced with unimaginable odds.
Daniel predicted what happened in Maccabees and this event is a precursor to what is detailed in Revelation to take place again, a pattern of things to come, with Antiochus Epiphanies taking on the role of the future anti-christ.
I’m not in any way suggesting you deviate from this Bible study – We are so close to having read the entire Bible! But if you have any additional time and would like to read some historical texts that bridge the gap between the two testaments in our Bibles, Maccabees is certainly worthwhile. 2 Maccabees chapter 7 will, no doubt, leave a deep impression on you as it did me.
Lamentations 2:14 details the danger of following false prophets and leaders who do not walk in obedience to YHWH:
Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading. Lamentations 2:14
Looking at the inverse of this passage: This passage condemns false prophets for not exposing the iniquity of their people. We saw, time and again, that they tickled their ears, told them what they wanted to hear, in order to remain in favor.
We can then flip that round and see what happens when leaders point out the sin in those they are leading. They are restored to the fortunes YHWH meant for them to have. He is our inheritance. This verse goes on to depict YHWH’s people as being scorned and mocked before the world – due to their own behavior.
Lamentations 2:17 YHWH has done what He purposed; He has carried out His word, which He commanded long ago…
We were told in the beginning the penalty for choosing our own way. Time and again He has lovingly taught, beseeched, and pled with us to apply and lean upon His wisdom rather than our own. There is no surprise coming. There is nothing that will happen that has been been told to us time and time again.
2 Lamentations 2:20 made me think of two different references. The first line about mothers eating their young: recall this happened in 2 Kings 6:24-30. The second part took place just before the Maccabean revolt as depicted in the book of Maccabees.
Lamentations 3:7 – Y’all, I want you to think of something for a moment.
Often, before the Father will free us from our bondage, He will allow us to feel that bondage all the more so that we are able to understand and appreciate the freedom from it.
Think of the Israelites in Egypt. Before they were freed, their yoke was made all the more difficult. Only then were they able to experience true freedom, with their heavy burden lifted. I have found this to be true in my own life as well. Before He delivers us, He causes us to take notice of just how heavy our bondage is.
In Lamentations 3:1-20 we find the author in a deeply dark place. An ever flowing list of descriptions to show the loneliness and shame of this people follows. But then at verse 21 we get a break in the clouds- And its a beautiful break indeed.
Lamentations 3:21-23 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
And now the hope. Always, there is hope. The Father set out, not to cut off His children, but to bring them back to Him, separating them from their sin and all that would keep them in bondage. Let’s read the whole passage:
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:20-33
How many times have we seen the Father allow his people to run through some hard times only to see them come out on the other side with more faith than they had previously?
Our Father loves us.
His love never ends.
Even when he disciplines us he still loves us.
In fact, He disciplines us because He loves us.
His ways are righteous and good yesterday, today, and all of the tomorrows.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!