Lamentations: Lament over sin, and you will be Happy (1:1-22, 2:5-6, 3:22-23)

March 20, 2016

Book: Lamentations

Lamentations: Lament over sin, and you will be Happy (1:1-22, 2:5-6, 3:22-23)
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Lamentations: Lament over sin, and you will be happy

(1:1-22, 2:5-6, 3:22-23) Pastor Heo

1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. 2 Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. 3 After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. 4 The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish. 5 Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe. 6 All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. 7 In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into enemy hands, there was no one to help her. Her enemies looked at her and laughed at her destruction. 8 Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away. 9 Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. “Look, LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.” 10 The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary— those you had forbidden to enter your assembly. 11 All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. “Look, LORD, and consider, for I am despised.” 12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger? 13 “From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all the day long. 14 “My sins have been bound into a yoke ; by his hands they were woven together. They have been hung on my neck, and the Lord has sapped my strength. He has given me into the hands of those I cannot withstand. 15 “The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah. 16 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” 17 Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. The LORD has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them. 18 “The LORD is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look on my suffering. My young men and young women have gone into exile. 19 “I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive. 20 “See, LORD, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death. 21 “People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my distress; they rejoice at what you have done. May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me. 22 “Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my heart is faint.”

5 The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for Daughter Judah. 6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting. The LORD has made Zion forget her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths; in his fierce anger he has spurned both king and priest.

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

(Meditate on these last verses as the conclusion and memorize them.)

In God’s providence, today is Palm Sunday AND we are studying Lamentations. This is the culmination of Jesus’ ministry on earth, and afterward he dies for the sins of all the world. Lamentations is a recollection of sins and mourning for them.

586 BC

  • The united kingdom of Israel was divided in 930BC,
  • In 722BC the northern kingdom was destroyed and conquered.
  • This story tells the story of the defeat of the southern kingdom and exile in 586BC.

This is a collection of 5 laments over the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews.

Despite the mournful state of most of the book, we can see there is a note of trust in God and hope for the future.
Even today, these 5 poems are used by Jews in annual feasts, fasting, and festivals to commemorate this event.

Lamentations (of Jeremiah)

The prophet Jeremiah wrote this book. His name does not appear here, so how do we know this?

4 Reasons

  1. There are many striking similarities between the book Jeremiah and this book Lamentations – we can compare them. We can see the same compassion, concern, sympathy, and grief evidence in both books.
  2. 2 Chron 35:3 says, “Jeremiah composed laments for King Josiah…” – he is a man of sorrow, lamentations, grief, weeping
  3. Early Jewish and Christian tradition attributes this book to Jeremiah
    • Lam. 1:2 “Bitter is she who weeps at night…” <=> Jer. 30:14 “All your allies have forgotten you. They care nothing for you…” (enemies <=> enemies)
    • Lam. 1:15 “The Lord has rejected all the warriors… he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men…” <=> Jer 8:21 “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed (ruined, destroyed). I mourn and horror grips me.”
    • Lam. 1:16 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears…”, Lam. 2:11 “My eyes fail from weeping…” <=> Jer 9:1 “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night…” Jer. 9:18 “Let them come quickly and wail over us, until our eyes overflow with tears…”
    • Lam. 2:22 “As you summoned.. so you summoned against me terrors…” <=> Jer 6:25 “Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads for the enemy has a sword and there is terror on every side…”
    • There are more, but these are a good start.
  4. We are studying prophetic books – among the 16 prophets, only Jeremiah was an eye-witness of the fall of Judah. All the other prophets ministered for Judah much earlier, before the destruction of Jerusalem – so they didn’t see it.
    • Daniel – was taken to Babylon at the first deportation.
    • Ezekiel – was taken to Babylon at the second deportation.
      • So, they were already in Babylon when Jerusalem was destroyed.
    • Hosea, Joel, Amos ministered in the northern kingdom before it was destroyed much earlier.
      • So, ONLY Jeremiah SAW all these things with his own eyes. The historical background can be found in the time of Jeremiah.

Thus, we can say this book was written by Jeremiah.

This book describes a funeral of a city/nation. Jeremiah composes his emotion “A death has happened – Jerusalem lies barren…”

Jeremiah writes his lamentations in alphabetical fashion – beginning each chapter with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. “alaef”

Each chapter starts like this “Ah!”

In Korean, the first vowel always sounds like “Ah!” and in English as well. In Greek, the first letter “Alpha” = “Ah!” and in Hebrew as well.

Another interesting thing is that this book has 5 chapters (5 poems). Each consists of 22 verses. (Check your Bible).

  • Chp 1: 22 verses
  • Chp 2: 22 verses
  • Chp 3: 66 (22×3) verses
  • Chp 4: 22 verses
  • Chp 5: 22 verses

Why? The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. (Greek = 24) “alaef – tau”

Jeremiah literally weeps from A-Z.

Let’s see a summary of each chapter.

Chp 1:

The story of the destruction of Jerusalem (its misery and desolation). There are 2 parts: v. 1-11 (Lamentation by Jeremiah), v. 12-22 (Lamentation by personified Jerusalem)

Chp 2:

The wrath of the Lord – holy anger of the Lord against his people. In this chp, Jeremiah moves from the desolation of Jerusalem to a description of Jerusalem’s total destruction. Babylon has destroyed the city but only as an instrument of God’s judgment. (Through Babylonia, God has terminated all religious observances, removed the priests, kings, and razed the city and palace and temple).

Chp 3:

The prayer of mercy – prayer for God’s mercy. In spite of this terrible Holocaust, still there is hope for the future – not because of human beings, but because of the character of God. (3:22-23 “Because of the great compassion of God, we are not consumed. His mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness.”) – Can you say this in your terrible situation? “In spite of my sufferings, GREAT is his faithfulness!”

Chp 4:

The sins of Jerusalem – contrast of past and present

Chp 5:

Prayer for restoration – Judah was destroyed/ruined totally, but there is still hope – not because of men, but because of God’s character, attributes, qualities. “Let God be true, even every man a liar.” – Bible says.

Let us read 3:22-23

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Do you believe our father God wants us to be happy, joyful, and blessed? Yes. But at the same time, he is too holy and pure to see sin.

  1. He is GOOD – so he wants us to be happy.
  2. BUT he is HOLY – so he can’t look upon sin.
  3. God loves sinners, but hates sin.

This is a lamentation over sin, basically. So, like this, we must weep over sin in order to laugh before God. We must lament our sin to be happy in God.

The prophet Jeremiah is a type of Christ (who wept over the same city Jerusalem: Matthew 23:37 “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets… how many times have I longed to gather in you your children, but you were not willing.”)

Even today, the problem of problems for all human beings is a sin problem. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is no one righteous, no even one.” (Romans)

As Christians, we must be clear on the sin problem. What is sin?

Westminster defines = “Any transgression of a law of God, or contradiction of God’s character.”

Romans 14:23 “Anything that doesn’t come from faith is sin.”

Greek word = “hamartia” = “sin” literally “missing the target” – if I miss the target, that is sin. (Missing God’s purpose for who he intends us to be – so the sin of sins is misbelieving God, not trusting in God).

Sin is a kind of sickness of the soul – so we need medicine – a remedy. This is a hopeless, incurable disease of the soul.

Yet, the remedy God has provided for sin = Jesus Christ. This is the only medicine for sin. Jesus, in his atonement and resurrection is the only remedy and medicine for sin.

Bible says “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

This is one of the main purposes why Jesus came into the world.

1 John 3:5 “Jesus came into this world to take away our sins…”

Isaiah – 700 years before he came – prophesied the piercing and crushing of Christ “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him. By his wounds we are healed… so that we might die to sin and live by his righteousness.”

Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins – and the sins of the whole world.

Sin is an ACT.

Doing something (anything) that God doesn’t like.

At the same time,

Sin is a STATE.

The fallen state (status) of man – not having a right relationship with God – no justification.

Sin is our NATURE.

This is the nature of fallen man – enmity with God.

  1. Sin is an ACT.
  2. Sin is a STATE.
  3. Sin is our NATURE.

“If you claim to be without sin, you are a liar. Is there anybody who can say, ‘I’m sinless’? You deceive yourselves, the truth is not in you. But, if you confess you sins, God is faithful and just to cleanse our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 5?)

The blood of Jesus Christ = our conclusion.

1 John 1:7 “The blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sins.”

I said already that today’s topic is very timely with the church calendar. This coming Friday is called “Good Friday.” This is a TERRIBLE happening, yet we call it “good.”

Imagine if your loved one – a child, your spouse, your parents died – could you call it “good”? No, impossible. So, how can we call this day “good”? Because HIS blood purifies all of us – as the Lamb of God, he “takes away the sin of the world.”

Let’s pray.

“Lord, teach me the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Teach me to hate sin. I want to love you with all my heart, strength, soul, mind.

“Lord, teach me to love you by hating sin. Teach me to confess and forsake my sin. Lord, empower me, enable me to defeat and overcome the challenge and temptation of sin. Today.”

Let’s pray.