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Lamentations – A Survey

December 26, 2008

LAMENTATIONS
Background information:
-Author: Unknown, possibly Jeremiah
-Timeline: Manasseh 693-639 B.C., Josiah and revival/was killed by Egypt in 609 B.C., 1st Babylonian deportation-Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abendeggo, 2nd deportation after attempted rebellion-597 B.C. – Ezekiel, 3rd deportation -587 B.C. (city, people, temple leveled-Zedekiah captured, had to see sons killed)
-Vss to consider 1:17,18/ evil prospers if God withdraws 2:3 / 3:32-God only inflicts as much as is needed then brings relief/ 3:39-in light of our sin, how can we complain?
-Overall structure: 1/5 overall summaries, 2/4 specific details, 3 central focus-high point of emotional expression- center verses 22-24…This book is about retributive suffering, not necessarily yours. But we can glean some principles for all suffering. The problem comes in when we confuse any suffering that happens to us/others with the idea of retribution. Sometimes it rains on the just and unjust alike in this fallen world.
-Why was this so lamentable? 1) it was their home 2) theology of land –now land desolate, burned, empty(promise, ancient near east belief) 3) temple was location of God’s presence-hundreds of years had led to point of God having temple in their midst and now?! 4) People were covenant community of God 5) Davidic king – anointed one “messiah” was cut off/national hopes die 6) outside help from Egypt was even cut off
In essence, God is DEAD!! See 2:9
Main Points:
1)    Recognize God’s sovereignty over our suffering. See 3:43 C.S. Lewis “He who has God and has nothing is the same as he who has God and has everything.”
2)    Let suffering draw us into communal sharing and support. Note the use of the 3rd pers. Pl. in ch 4. These are national funeral dirges. (‘How’) Used today by Jews in remembering the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
3)    Let suffering be given its full acknowledgement but no more. Acrostic, recall history
4)    Suffering can lead to: a) hardness of heart  or  b) seeking after God  Crabb: “Often we seek  God to help us with our problems when we should foremost use our problems to help us seek God.” Acrostic may have been used to cover confession from ‘A to Z’
5)    It’s normal to have a struggling faith. See 3:18 “Ex. Ned Flanders – all smiles”
6)    Our suffering needs to be grounded in history. If not, won’t categorize it; ‘suffering’  becomes abstract and incurable. Script. history vs. eastern philosophies, wisdom “This really happened!”
7)    Instead of explaining pain, scripture often helps us face grief. See 3:4-7
8)    Without anger (God’s or yours), suffering is depersonalized. (5:22) How did the writer connect suffering to God’s wrath? How can we? Or, can we? What about events like 9/11? How are they alike/dislike the destruction of Jerusalem? What’s to be our response? Luke 13:1-5 and Leviticus 19:18/Matt. 5:44
9)    Teaches us how to pray during trouble. 1:22-24/ 2:22-24/ 3:55-66/5:1-22
10)    Repentance happens in response to God’s initiative. See 3:19-25
11)    We must hold out hope that God will one day make things right! See 3:57-66
Application:
-How much does it take for God to allow to happen to you (or bring upon you) before you give up hope? Remember Lord doesn’t reject forever. See 3:31. Trouble comes at night but joy comes in the morning.
-Do you have a balanced, healthy Christianity that is able to express sorrow, grief, disappointment with God? Contra. masked form of asceticism.
-Do your problems teach that “God is your only good” (Psalm 16) and that rather than His gifts that He is your portion? See 3:22-24 –these verses are not generic, but rooted in God’s covenant faithfulness to fulfill His promises. Have we realized that YHWH is our inheritance and that we can never lose Him?
-Do we understand that when God inflicts its not for fun (3:33, Lit. from his heart) but to correct, grow, and form us into Christ’s image?

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One Comment leave one →
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