My devotional takes me through the Bible in a year, and yesterday was the book of Lamentations. Some thoughts…
Chapter One: Pure Grief
Jeremiah is writing as if Jerusalem itself is speaking. Jerusalem is in grief, and full of despair. She knows why this has happened. And she understands she deserves it. All Jerusalem asks is while God is punishing wickedness, deal with her attackers to.
Chapter Two: Description of The Loss
Jeremiah then writes the rest of the book from his point of view. In this chapter, he primarily addresses the loss, suffering, and pain endured by the Assyrian invasion.
*Brief history note: the Assyrian Empire invaded the southern Israelite kingdom of Judah, laying waste to Jerusalem, in 722 B.C. Politically, this was because the Assyrian king (can’t remember his name at the time and I’m too lazy to find it among all the books on my bookshelf… I really should reorganize that poor thing…) found out that Judah and Egypt were forming an alliance to rise up and fight back against him. So… death to Judah. Death to Egypt. You get the point.
Spiritually, God was punishing Judah for many years of idol worship and playing up to other nations (which got them in the trouble with Assyria in the first place), among other sins which they as a nation were simply commanded not to do. God is King over His people, and the folks in Judah needed to be reminded of that the hard way. Like any King dealing with rebellion: punishment will quickly follow if you break my laws and commands.
So in this invasion, destruction, and exile of Judah, we see see both how God’s laws have a practical purpose that He has clearly foreseen (don’t make earthly kings mad), and a spiritual purpose that became just as clear to the Judians (don’t forsake The King’s laws).
Chapter Three: Hope!
I love how in the first half of chapter three, Jeremiah is still talking about the utter desolation of Judah. But then he switches to another point: this shall end. God has not forsaken His people forever! Punishment lasts for a while, but it will end when the people repent, and God will restore them when their lesson has been learned.
” But this I call to mind,
And therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to and end;
they are new every morning:
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I will hope in him.” ” — 3:21-24
I like the entire passage of verses 19-33. But I’m assuming you’ve either grabbed a bible by one or have googled the Bible. I’m using the ESV, for future reference. So read it yourself!
Chapter Four: We Deserve This
“This was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her
the blood of the righteous.” — 4:13
Suffice to say, Judah did deserve all that happened to them. Oh, and they have an interesting little history of killing prophets, and well, anybody sent to them by God to call them to repent… yeah… not the best.
Towards the end of this chapter, Jeremiah does give a message to Judah’s enemies that they themselves shall soon too be punished, and that they were simply a vehicle for God to discipline His children, so they shouldn’t get very haughty about the fall of Judah.
Chapter Five: Restore Us Soon, O God!
Jeremiah reflects one last time about the desperate situation Judah has gotten itself into, and prays to God that this time of discipline shall soon be over, and that God will soon restore His people.
“But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.”