Study on Faith and Gods Faithfulness
God’s Faithfulness Lamentations 3:22-26
All Scriptures ESV unless otherwise noted
The Prophet is writing out of the experience of his soul being weighed down with the JUDGEMENT OF GOD.
Still he is Never the Less CONFIDENT in –
GOD’S UNCONQUERABLE MERCY !!!
(see vv. 19-26 & cf vv, 55-57)
No matter how Bad Things seem to be…
It is of the LORD’s MERCY that they are not worse!
(See following notes by Matthew Henry on Lamentations vv. 1-20)
Title of Psalm 102 would fit well… A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord
God is Angry – v.1
He is at loss – v. 2,6
God appears as enemy – v. 3,12,13 (Ps 73:14)
He is sorely afflicted – v. 4,15,16 (Ps 102:9)
No escape seen – v. 5,7,9,11
God not heaving prayers – v. 8
Neighbors laugh – v.14
In despair – v. 17,18
Therefore – Grief stricken – v. 19,20
There is reason for HOPE –
Because of God’s Faithfulness and Steadfast Love
God never fails – He does not Change !
The promise of Mal. 3:6 is true. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
Israel was unfaithful… We are unfaithful…
If God dealt with us according to our sin, we would be consumed.
Psalm 130:3,4 “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”
But PRASE GOD ! He s FAITHFUL – to all his covenant promises (and warnings – cf. Deut. 28)
I Cor.1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Heb. 6:10-19 Look up – God makes promise and swears by Himself.
The people of God are like the burning bush - burning, but never consumed. The church of God is persecuted by men… but never forsaken by God. Listen to how Paul pictures this truth in 2 Co 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
WHY? -Because- “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23
Mercies – plural inexhaustible fountain of mercies… God is the Father of mercies.
Zephaniah 3 describes the Judgment of God on Jerusalem and the Nations, but 3:5 says “The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.”
God’s mercies are adapted to each days requirements. Consider the blessing of Moses on Asher and closing benediction.
Deut. 33:24-27 “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be. “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
NOTE: These words of comfort are not spoken indiscriminately for or to any and all
But vv. 24-26 for those who can say “The Lord is my portion”.
Psalm 72:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The Prophet points us to PATENCE and EXPECTATION!
loving-kindness, a characteristic of God in the ot. The Hebrew word khesed, which is rendered by the kjv as ‘loving-kindness’ (30 times), as ‘kindness’ (38 times), and as ‘mercy’ (145 times), is translated in the rsv chiefly as ‘steadfast love’ (182 times) and ‘kindness’ (21 times), but occasionally as ‘great kindness’ (Gen. 19:19) or ‘loyal love’ (1 Sam. 20:14). In its preference for ‘mercy’ the kjv was obviously influenced by the Septuagint (lxx) which in 168 instances renders khesed as ‘mercy’ or ‘compassion’ (Gk. eleos) .
All renderings in English only approximate the richness of the original. It contains the idea of devotion, loyalty, and covenant faithfulness (see Exod. 34:6; Neh. 9:32). Thus one who was ḥasēēd (Ps. 18:25) was a ‘loyal’ (rsv) ‘devout person.’ The plural ḥasidim is used frequently by historians to describe the pious and devout predecessors of the Pharisees at the time of the Maccabean revolt (167 b.c.).
This word is used chiefly, but not exclusively, of God. The ‘kindness’ the prophet Micah enjoins humankind to love includes both its human and divine aspects (Mic. 6:1-6). It is thus a metonym for covenantal loyalty and performance. J.G.G.
Faithfulness (27 / 49)
|Deut 32:4||A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.|
|1 Sam 26:23||for his righteousness and • his faithfulness,|
|2 Chron 19:9||in faithfulness, and with your whole heart:|
|Ps 33:4||and all his work is done in faithfulness.|
|Ps 36:5||extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.|
|Ps 37:3||dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.|
|Ps 40:10||I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;|
|Ps 88:11||in the grave, or your faithfulness in • Abaddon ?|
|Ps 89:1||make known your faithfulness to all generations. *|
|Ps 89:2||the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”|
|Ps 89:5||O Lord, • your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!|
|Ps 89:8||O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?|
|Ps 89:24||My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,|
|Ps 89:33||steadfast love or • be false to my faithfulness.|
|Ps 89:49||which by your faithfulness you swore to David?|
|Ps 92:2||in the morning, and your faithfulness by • night,|
|Ps 96:13||righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.|
|Ps 98:3||love and • faithfulness to the house of Israel.|
|Ps 100:5||and his faithfulness to all generations. *|
|Ps 119:30||way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.|
|Ps 119:75||and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.|
|Ps 119:90||Your faithfulness endures to all generations; *|
|Ps 119:138||testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.|
|Ps 143:1||In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!|
|Isa 11:5||and • faithfulness the belt of his loins.|
|Lam 3:23||they are new every * morning; great is your faithfulness.|
|Hos 2:20||I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you|
SECTION OUTLINE THREE (LAMENTATIONS 3)
Jeremiah recalls his sufferings but expresses hope in the Lord. He tells the people to repent and asks the Lord to vindicate him by punishing his oppressors.
I. The Afflictions (3:1–20, 43–46, 52–66)
A. Of Jeremiah (3:1–20, 52–66): The Lord and the people plague him.
1. From the Lord (3:1–20)
a. The Lord brings him into deep darkness (3:2–3).
b. The Lord makes him old and breaks his bones (3:4) .
c. The Lord walls him in a dark place and chains him down (3:5–7).
d. The Lord ignores his prayers (3:8) .
e. The Lord blocks his path (3:9) .
f. The Lord attacks him like a bear (3:10–11).
g. The Lord pierces his heart with arrows (3:12–13).
h. The Lord makes him the object of ridicule (3:14) .
i. The Lord fills him with bitterness (3:15) .
j. The Lord takes away his peace and prosperity (3:16–20).
2. From the people (3:52–66): Mistreated and imprisoned by his own people for preaching against their sins, Jeremiah calls upon the Lord to pay them back.
B. Of Jerusalem (3:43–46)
1. From the Lord (3:43–45): Jeremiah laments that the Lord has treated them in the following ways:
a. He has chased them down and slaughtered them without mercy (3:43) .
b. He refuses to hear their prayers (3:44) .
c. He has discarded them as garbage (3:45) .
2. From their enemies (3:46) : They speak out against Jerusalem.
II. The Agony (3:47–51): Jeremiah cries out, “My tears flow down endlessly.”
III. The Assurance (3:21–24, 31–33): Despite Jeremiah’s groaning, he finds hope in the Lord. He rejoices that the Lord’s unfailing love keeps his people from complete destruction.
IV. The Admonition (3:25–30, 34–42): Jeremiah’s threefold advice to the people:
A. Wait patiently for the Lord to respond (3:25–26).
B. Accept the Lord’s discipline (3:27–30, 34–39).
C. Repent of your sin (3:40–42).
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS
Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866–1960
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)
One of the important lessons the Children of Israel had to learn during their wilderness journey was that God’s provision of manna for them was on a morning by morning basis. They could not survive on old manna nor could it be stored for future use (Exodus 16:19–21).
While many enduring hymns are born out of a particular dramatic experience, this was simply the result of the author’s “morning by morning” realization of God’s personal faithfulness in his daily life. Shortly before his death in 1960, Thomas Chisholm wrote:
My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.
Thomas Obediah Chisholm was born in a crude log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. From this humble beginning and without the benefit of high school or advanced education, he somehow began his career as a school teacher at the age of 16 in the same country school where he had received his elementary training. After accepting Christ as Savior, he became editor of The Pentecostal Herald and later was ordained as a Methodist minister. Throughout his long lifetime, Mr. Chisholm wrote more than 1,200 sacred poems, many of which have since become prominent hymn texts.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.
Chorus: Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided—Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
For Today: Psalm 9:10; 36:5–7; 102:11, 12; James 1:17
Live with this spirit of grateful praise—
The Book of Lamentations is a mournful postscript to the Book of Jeremiah. Through the use of five dirges, or funeral laments, the author grieved over the fate of Jerusalem because of her sin. Yet the book contains more than just the backward glances of a vindicated prophet. ”It is a mute reminder that sin, in spite of all its allurement and excitement, carries with it heavy weights of sorrow, grief, misery, barrenness, and pain. It is the other side of the eat, drink, and be merry‘ coin“ (Charles R. Swindoll, The Lamentations of Jeremiah, ”Introduction“). Lamentations both mourns the fall of the city and offers reproof, instruction, and hope to its survivors.
Title. The title of Lamentations is taken from the book’s first word, ’êḵâh. This word may be translated ”Alas!“ or ”How“ and was a characteristic cry of lament or exclamation (cf. 2 Sam. 1:19; Jer. 9:19). Rabbinic and Talmudic writers referred to the book by this title or by the name qînôṯ which means ”dirges“ or ”laments.“
The Septuagint translators converted the Rabbinic title qînôṯ into thrēnoi, the Greek word for ”dirges.“ This title was also adopted by the Latin Vulgate which named the book threni, or ”Lamentations.“ The translators of the English Bible followed the pattern established by the Septuagint and Vulgate translators and named the book ”Lamentations“ after a description of its contents. Many also followed the Jewish tradition of ascribing the work to Jeremiah. Thus the title of the book in English is either ”The Lamentations of Jeremiah“ (kjv, asv, nasb, rsv) or ”Lamentations“ (jb, niv).
Author and Date. The book does not name its author, but Jewish tradition attributes it to Jeremiah. The Septuagint added the following words as an introduction to the book: ”And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said. . . . “ The Aramaic Targum of Jonathan, the Babylonian Talmud, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate all made statements that attribute the work to Jeremiah.
Internal evidence also points to Jeremiah as the author. Several ideas used by Jeremiah in his prophecy reappear in Lamentations (cf. Jer. 30:14 with Lam. 1:2; and cf. Jer. 49:12 with Lam. 4:21). In both books the writer said his eyes flowed with tears (Jer. 9:1, 18; Lam. 1:16; 2:11); and in both the writer was an eyewitness of Jerusalem’s fall to Babylon and pictured the atrocities that befell Jerusalem in her last days (Jer. 19:9; Lam. 2:20; 4:10).
Jeremiah’s authorship of Lamentations was universally accepted till 1712 when Herman von der Hardt wrote a commentary which challenged this position. The objections raised by von der Hardt and others against Jeremiah’s authorship have been answered (e.g., Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1964, pp. 365-7; and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., A Biblical Approach to Personal Suffering, pp. 24-30).
Assuming that Jeremiah was the author of the book, the book itself must have been composed within a narrow period of time. Jeremiah would have penned the poetic dirges after Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 586 b.c. (cf. 1:1-11) but before he was taken to Egypt after Gedaliah’s assassination (ca. 583-582 b.c.; cf. Jer. 43:1-7). The vivid descriptions and deep emotions expressed in the Book of Lamentations argue for a composition shortly after the events occurred, possibly in late 586 b.c. or early 585 b.c.
Historical Background. From 588 to 586 b.c. the army of Babylon ground away at the defenses of Jerusalem (for comments on these dates see information at 2 Kings 25:1-10). So Judah’s early flush of excitement and euphoria following her rebellion against Babylon was replaced with uncertainty and fear. Her ally, Egypt, had been vanquished in battle as she tried in vain to rescue Judah from Babylon’s grasp. One by one the other cities in Judah were crushed (cf. Jer. 34:6-7) till only Jerusalem remained before the Babylonian hordes.
Within the city the ever-tightening siege by Babylon’s armies began unraveling the fabric of society. Starving mothers ate their own children (Lam. 2:20; 4:10). Idolatry flourished as the people cried out to any and every god for deliverance. Paranoia gripped the people until they were willing to kill God’s prophet as a traitor and spy just because he spoke the truth.
The long siege ended abruptly on July 18, 586 b.c. The walls were then breached and the Babylonian army began entering the city (2 Kings 25:2-4a). King Zedekiah and the remaining men in his army tried to flee, but were captured (2 Kings 25:4b-7). It took several weeks for Nebuchadnezzar to secure the city and strip it of its valuables, but by August 14, 586 b.c. the task was completed and the destruction of the city began (2 Kings 25:8-10). (For support of the dates July 18 and August 14, 586 b.c., see Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983, p. 190.) The armies of Babylon burned the temple, the king’s palace, and all the other major buildings in the city; and they tore down the walls of the city which provided her protection. When the Babylonians finally finished their destruction and departed with their prisoners, they left a jumbled heap of smoldering rubble.
Jeremiah witnessed the desecration of the temple and the destruction of the city (cf. Jer. 39:1-14; 52:12-14). The once-proud capital had been trampled in the dust. Her people were now under the harsh hand of a cruel taskmaster. With all these events stamped vividly on his mind Jeremiah sat down to compose his series of laments.
III. Third Dirge: Jeremiah’s Response (chap. 3)
Chapter 3 is the heart of Jeremiah’s short book. This chapter gives the book a positive framework around which the other chapters revolve. The black velvet of sin and suffering in chapters 1-2 and 4-5 serves as a fitting backdrop to display the sparkling brilliance of God’s loyal love in chapter 3.
The chapter itself differs markedly from the first two. Instead of 22 verses it has 66—3 verses for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The chapter also begins without the familiar ”How“ (’êḵâh) that stands guard over chapters 1 and 2. Instead, a first-person narrative unfolds as the writer describes his personal reaction to the suffering he has experienced.
The identity of the subject in chapter 3 has been disputed. Some feel that ”I,“ ”me,“ and ”my“ refer to Jerusalem personified (cf. 1:12-22; 2:22). However, while parts of chapter 3 could refer to the city, other parts of the chapter must refer to an individual (cf. 3:14, 52-54). In fact the parallels between this individual and Jeremiah are remarkable. Both were hated by their countrymen (Jer. 1:18-19; Lam. 3:52), were ridiculed by those they tried to help (Jer. 20:7-8; Lam. 3:63), had plots made against their lives (Jer. 11:18-19; Lam. 3:60), were cast into watery pits (Jer. 38:4-13; Lam. 3:53-58), and wept over the people’s destruction (Jer. 9:1; 13:17; 14:17; Lam. 3:48-49).
Therefore it is probable that the person in question is Jeremiah himself. Yet his description goes beyond just one person to include all the people. This is most obvious in his switch from the singular to the plural (”we,“ ”us,“ ”our“) within the chapter (cf. vv. 22, 40-46). The best solution is to see the individual in chapter 3 as Jeremiah representing all Israelites. He used his own experiences because the things he suffered represented things that many Israelites had suffered.
The chapter may be divided into three sections. Jeremiah detailed his afflictions during the time of Jerusalem’s fall (vv. 1-18). But his knowledge of God’s ways in the midst of his affliction produced hope, not despair (vv. 19-40). So Jeremiah could lead Israel in prayer to God for deliverance, restoration, and vindication (vv. 41-66).
A. Jeremiah’s afflictions (3:1-18)
3:1-3. In a long list of metaphors Jeremiah enumerated the many afflictions that he, as Judah’s representative, suffered at the hand of God’s wrath (cf. 2:2, 4; 4:11). Jeremiah was confused as he watched God seemingly reverse His past attitudes and actions. Instead of walking in the light of God’s guidance he had been forced to stumble in darkness (cf. 3:6). God turned His hand against Jeremiah. This phrase is unique, but the concept of God’s hand was known in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Sam. 5:6; Job 19:21). God’s hand of favor had become a fist of adversity.
3:4-6. God’s adversity resulted in misery for Jeremiah. God’s afflictions had taken their toll on his health (cf. Ps. 38:2-3): his skin and flesh were old (probably wrinkled) and his bones were broken (figuratively speaking of his inner agony; cf. Ps. 42:10). These outward changes were matched by inner bitterness (cf. Lam. 3:15, 19). Jeremiah was broken in body and spirit.
3:7-9. Jeremiah could see no way out of his adversity. He was imprisoned and chained, so his freedom was gone. God refused to acknowledge his prayers for help, and all avenues of escape were blocked.
3:10-13. God’s actions seemed designed to single out Jeremiah for punishment. God was like a bear or lion in hiding beside the path who attacked and mauled Jeremiah. Switching figures, Jeremiah said he felt like a target against which God was taking target practice (cf. Job 6:4; 7:20; 16:12-13). God had chosen him for adversity.
3:14-18. In a burst of vivid images Jeremiah concluded the description of his afflictions. He was mocked and laughed at by his compatriots, filled with bitterness (bitter herbs and gall [cf. v. 19], the most bitter-tasting plant in Judah), trampled underfoot, deprived of peace and prosperity, and led to despair.
B. Jeremiah’s hope (3:19-40)
3:19-24. Jeremiah’s condition paralleled that of Judah. His outward affliction (v. 19a; cf. vv. 1-4) and inward turmoil (v. 19b; cf. vv. 5, 13, 15) pushed him toward despair (my soul is downcast, v. 20). However, one thought (this I call to mind) crowded out the hopelessness that threatened to overwhelm him: Because of the Lord‘s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. Judah was down, but not out. God was punishing Judah for her sin, but did not reject her as His covenant people. The word for ”great love“ is ḥeseḏ, which has the idea of loyal love. God was sticking by the people He had chosen. The covenant made with Israel in Deuteronomy 28 (see Introduction) had not been abrogated. In fact God’s loyal love could be seen in His faithfulness in carrying out the curses He had promised while at the same time preserving a remnant. The judgment itself was a witness to the fact that God had not abandoned His people. God’s ”compassions“ (from reḥem, ”womb,“ and in the pl. for intensity) showed His gentle feeling of concern for those who belonged to Him.
Could Judah push God so far that He would finally abandon her forever? Was God’s supply of loyal love and compassion limited? Jeremiah’s answer was no. God’s ”loving-kindnesses“ (nasb) are new every morning. God offered a fresh supply of loyal love every day to His covenant people. Much like the manna in the wilderness, the supply could not be exhausted. This truth caused Jeremiah to call out in praise, Great is Your faithfulness. He was taken back by the limitless supply of God’s grace offered to him. Because of this, Jeremiah resolved to wait for God to act, bringing about restoration and blessing. He could trust God despite his circumstances because he now understood how inexhaustible was God’s supply of loyal love.
3:25-40. The God who brought the cursings spoken of in Deuteronomy 28 would also bring about the restoration promised in Deuteronomy 30. In the meantime God’s people needed to develop the proper attitude toward their afflictions. Jeremiah wrote seven principles about the nature of Israel’s affliction: (1) Affliction should be endured with hope in God’s salvation, that is, ultimate restoration (Lam. 3:25-30). (2) Affliction is only temporary and is tempered by God’s compassion and love (vv. 31-32). (3) God does not delight in affliction (v. 33). (4) If affliction comes because of injustice, God sees it and does not approve of it (vv. 34-36). (5) Affliction is always in relationship to God’s sovereignty (vv. 37-38; cf. Job 2:10). (6) Affliction ultimately came because of Judah’s sins (Lam. 3:39). (7) Affliction should accomplish the greater good of turning God’s people back to Him (v. 40).
Jeremiah was able to place his (and Israel’s) affliction in proper perspective by remembering how it related to God’s character and His covenant with His people. Judah’s afflictions were not cruel acts of a capricious God who delighted in inflicting pain on helpless people. Rather the afflictions came from a compassionate God who was being faithful to His covenant. He did not enjoy making others suffer, but He allowed the afflictions as temporary means to force Judah back to Himself. So Jeremiah ended this section by exhorting the people, Let us examine our ways . . . let us return to the Lord. God’s affliction was designed as a corrective measure to restore His wayward people (Deut. 28:15-68). It was designed to force the people to return to the Lord (Deut. 30:1-10).
C. Jeremiah’s prayer (3:41-66)
The condition of the prophet (vv. 1-18) and the character of God (vv. 19-40) prompted Jeremiah to pray. This next section is in two parts. In the first part (vv. 41-47) the prophet exhorted the people to confess their sins to God because of their suffering. This section was written in the plural (”we,“ ”us,“ ”our“). In the second part (vv. 48-66) Jeremiah remembered God’s personal deliverance after his cry; this prompted Jeremiah to call on God to judge his enemies. This section was written in the singular (”I,“ ”me,“ ”my“); it represented Jeremiah as the model for Judah. As God rescued Jeremiah and judged his enemies, so God would rescue Judah and judge her enemies if she would call on Him.
3:41-47. This prayer flows out of the exhortation in verse 40. Judah’s return to the Lord would be accomplished through prayer. As she turned toward heaven she would acknowledge that she had sinned and rebelled. The nation’s troubles—being under God’s anger (cf. 2:1, 3, 6, 22; 3:43), having unanswered prayer, being rejected like scum by the nations, and being scoffed at (cf. 2:16)—stemmed from her disobedience to God. All her terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction resulted from rebellion against God’s covenant. When Judah would realize the awful consequences of her sin, she would finally admit her guilt.
3:48-51. In verse 48 Jeremiah abruptly shifted from the plural to the singular. Verses 48-51 provide a transition from the people’s confession (vv. 41-47) to Jeremiah’s example (vv. 52-66). As the people confessed their sin and then waited for God to respond, so Jeremiah continued to weep (cf. 2:11) and pray until the Lord would look down from heaven and see. God promised to restore Israel when she called on Him from her captivity (Deut. 30:2-3). So Jeremiah vowed to continue calling for God’s restoration of His people till the event actually happened.
3:52-55. After vowing to pray for the people till God reversed their fortunes, Jeremiah related circumstances from his own life which were examples for them. As Judah was afflicted, Jeremiah was also afflicted. As she was to cry for relief, so Jeremiah had cried for relief. God’s deliverance of Jeremiah was then a prelude to the deliverance He would bring the nation.
Jeremiah’s ministry during Judah’s final days created many enemies. The people from his own hometown plotted to kill him (Jer. 11:18-23), and everybody at the temple demanded that he be executed (Jer. 26:7-9). He was beaten and thrown into prison as a traitor (Jer. 37:11-16), and was later, near the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege, lowered into a muddy cistern to starve to death (Jer. 38:1-6).
Jeremiah was probably referring to this last incident in Lamentations 3:53-55. He cried to God for deliverance from the pit where he was facing certain death. Some feel that the pit could also be a double reference to both the cistern and the grave or sheol (cf. 2 Sam. 22:5-6; Pss. 18:4-5; 69:1-2, 14-15; Jonah 2:5-6). Probably Jeremiah’s experience in the physical pit brought to mind the Hebrew concept of the pit of death. One cannot push the metaphorical image too far, however, because the phrase and threw stones at me (Lam. 3:53) would be meaningless if the pit referred only to death. If one were sinking in the pit of death, why would he care if people were throwing stones at him? But if he were trapped in a physical cistern this could pose a real danger, as it did for Jeremiah.
3:56-58. Jeremiah’s plea for deliverance from the pit was answered. You came near when I called You. God intervened on Jeremiah’s behalf and rescued him from certain death in a muddy cistern (cf. Jer. 38:7-13). So Jeremiah was a living example to Judah of God’s loyal love and faithfulness (cf. Lam. 3:22-23). God did deliver (redeemed here means ”delivered“) this man who called on Him for help.
3:59-66. Jeremiah then called on God to vindicate him before his enemies, those in Judah who opposed him. God had seen . . . the wrong done to Jeremiah—their vengeance . . . their plots. . . . their insults, and their mocking. Jeremiah also asked God to pay them back what they deserve. This was fulfilled historically when Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem. The leaders responsible for rejecting and persecuting Jeremiah were punished by Babylon (cf. Jer. 39:4-7; 52:7-11, 24-27). The parallel to Jerusalem was obvious. She too was persecuted by her enemies (Lam. 3:46-47); but she could be confident that God would vindicate her before her enemies if she would turn to Him.
NEEDS MET BY LAMENTATIONS
Lamentations takes the particular event of Jerusalem’s downfall and shapes it into a timeless cry of anyone of God’s children who suffers—for his own or for others’ sins. The core confession of trust in God’s love, even in the most tragic of situations (3:32–33), forms the center of the book’s answers to these questions regarding the Israelites’ life needs.
• Why has the nation of Israel’s life fallen apart (1:8)?
• Why was God not on the side of Israel, his chosen people (4:12)?
• What should be Israel’s next step (3:39–40)?
• What could possibly provide the security for any hope for the future (3:32–33)?
Jeremiah’s agony over Jerusalem’s destruction mirrors God’s own pain over disciplining his children (3:31–33). The reason for discipline is the sin of God’s children. The application of discipline comes from God’s love and holiness. The purpose of reading about the past act of God’s judgment on Jerusalem is hopefully to avert the need for God disciplining believers today in a similar way (3:40). In the flurry of present activities it is easy to forget that God exists and still demands holy living. Reading about the great judgment on God’s holy city of Jerusalem should remind believers that as temples of God’s Holy Spirit they also are not immune to God’s severe discipline should they fall into sin. The book also serves as an example of how to mourn for sins and cry to God. Grief and pain are to be expressed, not denied or kept within. Lamentations gives believers something to identify with when they experience discipline. God’s anger toward sin is real. But it is the anger of a loving father who will deal out pain if it is necessary to mature his children. And believers can always say, with Jeremiah, the “punishment will end” (4:22).
3:1–66 CALL FOR REPENTANCE
The author reflected on his personal experiences of affliction during his prophetic ministry (Lam. 3:1–18). He then received encouragement and consolation by reflecting on God’s faithfulness (3:21–29). He used the imagery of hyperbole, that is, exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. The words “unfailing love” (3:22) are translated from a Hebrew term related to the Hebrew word for “stork,” suggesting a mother’s love and faithfulness. It can be translated “loyal love” or “covenant loyalty.” Burying “face down in the dust” (3:29) was an Oriental expression of submission. In 3:37–38 is a strong statement of God’s sovereignty over all circumstances (cf. Eccles. 7:14; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). The writer referred to his own imprisonment in the “pit” (Lam. 3:53; cf. Jer. 38:6). The expression “This is the end” (3:54) means “I was as good as dead.” In 3:64–66 the author did not take personal vengeance on his persecutors, but left retribution to the Lord (cf. Rom. 12:19).
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK
I. The Misery and Desolation of Jerusalem (1:1–22)
1. A Description of the City’s Destruction (1:1–11)
2. The City’s Plea for Compassion (1:12–17)
3. The City’s Confession of Sin (1:18–20)
4. An Appeal for Punishment of Jerusalem’s Enemies (1:21–22)
II. God’s Judgment on the City (2:1–22)
1. God’s Wrath Expressed in Jerusalem’s Destruction (2:1–9)
2. The Suffering of the People (2:10–13)
3. Misleading Advice of False Prophets (2:14)
4. Ridicule by the Enemies (2:15–17)
5. An Anguished Appeal to God (2:18–22)
III. Hope of Relief through Loving-Kindness (3:1–66)
1. An Individual’s Description of the Suffering (3:1–20)
2. God’s Past Mercies as the Basis for Future Hope (3:21–39)
3. An Appeal for God’s Mercy (3:40–51)
4. An Appeal for Deliverance and a Call for Vengeance (3:52–66)
IV. Sorrows of the People Resulting from the Siege (4:1–22)
1. Remembrances of Better Days (4:1–11)
2. The Sins of Prophets and Priests (4:12–16)
3. A Vain Search for Help (4:17–20)
4. Edom’s Coming Punishment (4:21–22)
V. A Prayer for Mercy and Deliverance (5:1–22)
1. The Affliction and Suffering of the People (5:1–13)
2. The Loss of Joy and Hope (5:14–18)
3. An Appeal for the Lord’s Restored Favor (5:19–22)
Outline of contents
|1:1–7||Jerusalem’s loss of greatness|
|1:8–17||The Lord’s wrath against Jerusalem|
|1:18–22||Appeal to the Lord|
|2:1–22||The Lord’s anger|
|2:1–10||‘Like an enemy’|
|2:11–19||Tears like a river|
|2:20–22||Appeal to God|
|3:1–66||The compassions of God|
|3:1–21||‘He has walled me in’|
|3:22–30||‘His compassion never fails’|
|3:31–39||‘He does not willingly bring affliction’|
|3:40–48||‘Let us return’|
|3:49–66||‘You redeemed my life’|
|4:1–22||The horrors of siege|
|4:1–10||A dehumanized people|
|4:11–22||‘Your punishment will end’|
|5:1–22||‘Remember, O Lord’|
3:1–21 ‘He has walled me in’
The poem opens with various pictures of human distress. Darkness is a typical biblical picture for lostness (cf. Is. 9:2). Sickness is barely distinguishable from death (6), itself a shadowy non-life (cf. Jb. 3:11–19; Is. 14:18–20).
Physical pain leads to deep frustration, bordering on despair (7–9; cf. Ps. 88). The writers of the Psalms often experience God’s refusal to answer prayer too (e.g. Pss. 10:1; 13:1; 22:2). The pictures then become more violent, suggesting both the dangers that await the traveller on ancient roads and the perils of battle (10–12).
The Lord’s affliction of the poet now takes the form of his persecution by his own people (13–15). Jeremiah too drew extreme hostility from his fellow-countrymen (Je. 20:7; cf. 11:18–23). As with the prophet, so the poet’s suffering at the hands of his own people is meant to call to mind their suffering at the hands of their enemies. The poet’s hopelessness reaches its climax (16–18) when he says that he has lost his peace, or the sense of well-being that should have been the mark of a healthy relationship between God and his people.
When, however, the poet dwells on his condition, his thoughts turn to hope (just as those of the Psalmists; Pss. 42–43). As he gives rein to his memory, then his mind turns to God’s past goodness. Such use of memory is always vital in the spiritual life.
3:22–30 ‘His compassion never fails’
This central passage of the poem is one of the OT’s expressions of faith. The poet’s mind has already begun to turn from the present horrors (21), and now he thinks of the things that are always true about God. Love (22) is the term often translated ‘steadfast love’, the most typical quality of God. It is here in the plural (though not in the niv), to emphasize that it is an enduring love that does not fail. Judgment cannot be God’s last word, for his compassion triumphs over it, albeit agonizingly. This agony is well expressed in Hos. 11:8, and has its most profound expression in Jesus’ suffering on the cross—God’s greatest judgment on sin and his final self-giving love for humanity.
Because love and compassion are the chief attributes of God, they are always fresh, ready to be proved and known again (23). For this reason, those who have been afflicted may always put their trust in him again, for their acceptance and restoration. God is ‘faithful’, or unchanging, in his love. Therefore the poet can be content that God should be his lot (portion; cf. Ps. 73:26), whatever the circumstances.
Since God is like this, it is good to seek him. To do so, however, may bring a cost, as implied by vs 27–30 (recalling again the life of Jeremiah). It may be that the goodness of God will be known only after suffering patiently endured.
3:31–39 ‘He does not willingly bring affliction’
The thought in the previous verses leads now to a fuller expression of the idea that affliction is not the Lord’s last word. God’s love and compassion will be known after grief, for he does not willingly afflict (33; cf. Ho. 6:1). For this reason, God is not one to tolerate unjust affliction—such as is sometimes brought upon human beings by their fellows (34–36; cf. Jb. 8:3). Yet when calamities come because of sin, this is no injustice (37–39). It is in this context that God can afflict—though he hates affliction.
Modern readers must take care in understanding thoughts like these. The point is that a relationship is established between judgment and salvation; the one lies beyond the other. This order is exemplified in the death then resurrection of Christ. The judgment prophecies of the OT should never lead to the conclusion that some particular affliction is a particular judgment on the sufferer.
3:40–48 ‘Let us return’
There is a sudden change in vs. 40–47 to a plural speaker and a confession which gives way to complaint. It is possible that the decision to return to the Lord (i.e. to repent; 40) was insincere (cf. Je. 3:22–25; 14:7–9). The Lord’s forgiveness seems to have been expected as a right (42). The people went on to complain that the Lord would not hear their prayer and that, therefore, they were suffering (43–47). The implication is that he is unjust—a suggestion which the preceding verses have declared to be untrue. The final verse in this group returns to the voice of the poet, who mourns not only the suffering of the people, but perhaps their lack of understanding.
3:49–66 ‘You redeemed my life’
The remainder of the poem is the poet’s response to the complaint of the people in the preceding verses. Here again, his own persecution stands in a sense for the people’s suffering at the hands of enemies. There is in the lament, furthermore, a certain expectation that his cries would be heard (56–60, 64–66). If, then, the poet could expect deliverance from the Lord, it may be that the people could too.
The ideas of being cast into a pit (53; cf. Ps. 88:6), being overwhelmed by waters and calling on the Lord for help (54–55; cf. Ps. 18:3–6) are common enough in laments. However, the expressions here recall Jeremiah’s experience in particular. He too was thrown into a pit (Je. 38:6); he knew plots against his life (60; cf. Je. 11:19; 18:18); and called on the Lord to act against his personal enemies (64–66; cf. Je. 11:20; 18:19–23).
It is no accident that the deliverance of the people, promised in vs. 22–30, involved the suffering of one who stood in their place. There is great poignancy in the fact that the suffering poet (or prophet) bore, as it were, the griefs of the people, even as he suffered at their hands. There are obvious similarities with the song about the Suffering Servant (Is. 52:13–53:12). And there is a foreshadowing of the insults and cruelty heaped on Jesus Christ by the people he came to save, even as he showed in himself the deep ‘compassions’ of God for them.
God is Never Short on Compassion by Scott Chambers
Grieving is the natural result of us experiencing some type of loss. Well meaning people often say, “I know what you’re going through.” The problem is that it is truly impossible for any human being to know exactly what we’re going through. The reason lies in the fact that grief is a unique personal experience and differs from person to person. During these times of sorrow and grief it is completely normal and necessary for us to take some time to focus on ourselves and our pain. There’s a fine line here if the inward focus continues too long we run the risk of losing our perspective and hope. During these times questions flood our minds to which there are no easy answers. “Where is God in all of this? “Does He abandon us when we fall on bad times?” Listen to the words of the great Christian author CS Lewis following the death of his wife due to cancer: “When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be or so it seems, welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away.” How many of us can identify with Lewis’ feelings. However, if what we read in the Bible is true about God, then He is infinitely good and loving and He will never leave us high and dry. Even His discipline as unpleasant as it is works to make us into the person He desires us to be. God truly is never short on compassion. Jeremiah remembered the unfailing love of God while he was struggling with feelings of abandonment, humiliation, oppression and bitterness. What Jeremiah learns from God in his time of darkness can provide us with hope and encouragement during times of sorrow and pain in our own lives. Even when those times have come as a result of our own rebellion against God.
I. Jeremiah understood what it meant to be broken by affliction.
A. Jeremiah had suffered along with his people. He affirmed, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.”
1. The Hebrew term used here is a word that can be literally translated as club, inferring that this was a weapon God used against Judah in judgment.
2. The actual inflicting of the wounds was done by humans, but they were simply acting on the Lord’s behalf.
3. He compared his experience to darkness, being smitten repeatedly, and the frailties of old age.
4. He likened himself to a city under siege, a dead man in eternal darkness, a prisoner, and a traveler forced to walk uncharted detours.
5. Jeremiah’s hopelessness reaches its climax when he says that he has lost his peace, or the sense of well-being that should have been the mark of a healthy relationship between God and his people.
B. Jeremiah felt as though God had built a wall around him and bound him with heavy chains to make sure there was no escape from his affliction.
1. Like a prisoner in a dungeon, his cries to God went unanswered. Like people seeking their way out of a maze, whatever direction they turned for relief was blocked.
2. One of life’s darkest moments is to experience the absence of God and have one’s prayers seem to go unanswered.
3. God is now compared to a wild beast that has pounced on his victim and is tearing him apart. Judah had been dismembered by its conquerors and was their helpless prey. God had not only cut off all avenues of escape but was actively pursuing his victim to bring about its total destruction.
4. The prophet was overwhelmed by the disaster. He had lost all inner peace. He had forgotten what prosperity meant. His confidence in Yahweh had been shaken.
II. Jeremiah was encouraged by God’s compassion.
A. Jeremiah’s prayer reflects a great deal of humility.
1. The sufferings were so deeply impressed in the heart of the victim that he found himself constantly thinking about them.
2. His “short-term memory” fixes his thoughts on his present sufferings. He seems incapable of thinking of anything else.
3. Jeremiah’s outlook on the situation is so bleak, his hope has been drained away and all his pride is gone.
4. Jeremiah is filled with remorse and a sense of total dependence upon God.
B. The very mention of the precious name of God helped Jeremiah regain a solid footing for his faith.
1. At the moment of his deepest despair and as he recalled his bitter affliction, a remarkable transition in his attitude took place as reflected upon the nature of God.
2. Suffering such as Jeremiah is experiencing is not eternal. What is eternal is the Lord’s love, his compassions, his faithfulness.
3. This suffering is like the darkness of the night; but just as the sun rises every morning, the Lord will faithfully show love and mercy to his people.
4. That any had survived the tragedy of 586 B.C. was due to the loving kindness of God. The daily provision of the necessities of life was evidence of his unceasing mercies. In the final analysis the faithfulness of God to his people was great beyond human understanding.
5. The knowledge that he possessed God, and God possessed him was the foundation of Jeremiah’s hope. He was confident that the Lord is always good to those who wait for him, which could be better translated place their trust in him.
6. Because love and compassion are the chief attributes of God, they are always fresh, ready to be proved and known again. For this reason, those who have been afflicted may always put their trust in him again, for their acceptance and restoration.
III. Jeremiah from his reflections discovers some practical tips on how to grow through adversity.
A. Jeremiah discovered that we must wait patiently on the Lord.
1. This is not to be taken as an encouragement to do nothing except sitting around licking our wounds but the kind that actively seeks God in prayer.
2. We are to patiently wait on God’s help patiently accepting what we are going through confident that it will strengthen our faith.
3. Those who truly trust in the Lord do not complain or despair even when in trouble.
4. Those who learn in youth to bear suffering are better prepared for the hardships that may come in old age.
5. Jeremiah shows that we need to be open to God in a way that we can discover what He would like us to learn through the suffering.
B. Believers should submit willingly to God’s will even when that means enduring pain and adversity.
1. Going through adversity is profitable only if it is done in the right way— without complaint or retaliation.
2. Affliction can be borne more easily when one knows that rejection and alienation from God, as well as suffering, do not last indefinitely since they are not God’s ultimate purpose for his people.
3. There must be a confidence that the trials will be replaced by God’s compassion because of the abundance of his “unfailing love”.
4. God punishes the guilty, but for a very short time, in comparison with his displays of love. Therefore, the sufferer must endure, realizing that the Lord will not show the one (anger) without the other (love).
IV. Regardless of our loss the message of Jeremiah has relevance for us today.
A. Regardless of what we have lost, the message of Jeremiah is that God will never abandon us.
1. The only way Jeremiah was able to make it through the pain of His circumstance was to reflect upon the character of God.
2. The Lord is always by our side faithfully and compassionately meeting our needs.
3. God’s great concern for His children may not always be the most obvious but the fact remains it is continually active.
4. We will never find any comfort or relief until we can personally rest in these truths.
B. There is a very important question that comes to mind as we reflect on this Biblical truth that we do not want to fail to deal with.
1. If God is always so loving toward us, why does He seem silent and strangely absent when we cry out for help?
2. The answer is that the problem lies with us and not Him. This has everything to do with perspective.
3. Our human nature makes us think that we are big enough to run the world but when confronted by pain and suffering we are humbled by our own helplessness and dependence.
4. As we discover in the account of the Garden of Eden we are wrong. God put man and woman in a world that was free from suffering and pain, and we chose against God.
5. Just like Adam and Eve we have a choice. We can trust God or we can blame Him, not ourselves for the pain we have to endure.
6. He is there! We just need to remember that.
I would like to share with you the rest of CS Lewis’ words on this subject. “You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. Now! Let’s have a real good talk reduces everything to silence. I must get a good sleep tonight ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. It is similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? And so perhaps with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like a drowning man that can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”
So how can we regain our ability to receive God’s love when our sorrow is deep? Jeremiah gives the answer: Wait patiently, wait silently and submit willingly.
God is Still There Even in that Deep Hole by Scott Chambers
We have reached the halfway point in our journey through the book of Lamentations. The images have been quite graphic to say the least. We have vividly seen the consequences of continued disobedience put on display. By now you have probably begun to discover the central theme of the book through Jeremiah’s words. “The effects of disobedience are great, but the compassion and love of the Lord is far greater.” Despite the tragic nature of the consequences brought on by Judah’s disobedience, the situation is not without hope. The hope is seen in the fact that God stays with His people regardless of how disobedient they become. Despite feeling like he had fallen into a deep dark hole, Jeremiah discovered this truth to be quite evident. When Jeremiah finally reached the point where he was able to look up from his circumstance he saw that God’s mercy and compassion are unfailing. Regardless of how deep the hole we have dug for ourselves, God is still there, and He still loves us. As we examine that last half of the third chapter of Lamentations, we will discover Jeremiah reaffirming the great truths he has learned. Let’s open our minds and hearts to the timeless truths and hope contained within Jeremiah’s words.
I. Gaining some important perspective about Jeremiah’s ministry.
A. Jeremiah persevered in a forty year ministry devoted to warning the nation of Judah that judgment would come unless they turned back to God.
1. One has to wonder how long anyone can endure a seemingly fruitless ministry.
2. Day after day Jeremiah poured out his heart trying to get Judah to turn back to God but his pleas seemingly fell upon deaf ears.
3. Warning after warning went unheeded resulting in the consequence of God allowing the full force of the Babylonian army to descend upon Judah.
4. The piles of rubble left behind serve as a graphic reminder of the devastation continued disobedience can bring about.
B. As Jeremiah looks over the grizzly scene his heart breaks and he expresses his grief and sorrow over Judah’s fate.
1. Though he could not forget the sufferings which he had experienced, Jeremiah still found reason to hope in God.
2. Suffering such as Jeremiah and Judah are experiencing is not eternal. What is eternal is the Lord’s love, His compassions, His faithfulness
3. Contained within these truths Jeremiah found strength and hope that would enable him to endure the suffering and deep sorrow he was experiencing.
II. Three truths to live by when the days are dark.
A. God is infinitely just.
1. God does not get His kicks by inflicting people with suffering and pain.
2. God does not hand out undeserved punishments, when He does punish, you will find love and compassion following close behind.
3. The Lord is aware of suffering and injustice, although some might charge otherwise. Nothing that takes place, good or evil, escapes God’s notice.
4. God’s goal is to give us what’s best for us, whether we want it or not. He loves us too much to do anything less.
B. God is sovereign if He says something will happen you can count on it.
1. God sends both calamities and good things, in consideration of His self-proclaimed character and in reaction to the good and bad deeds of people.
2. God is being true to his divine character when he punishes sin.
3. Jeremiah is honest enough with himself to realize that his present suffering is deserved punishment, not a mistake. Therefore, he should not complain of unjust treatment.
4. God is ultimately in control of whatever goes on in the universe and He has designed both prosperity and adversity to be for our ultimate benefit.
C. God is holy; He is set apart from His creation.
1. God is our sustainer, redeemer and judge. He is holy and we are not. We are deserving of His wrath.
2. God does not force men to choose the path of disobedience with its resultant punishment. No one can then complain when he is punished for his sin.
3. Jeremiah encouraged the people to confess their sin and rebellion, which would make them more accepting of their current punishment.
4. These verses should not be read as bitter accusations against God but as contrite recognition that the people’s sins had brought God’s punishment. God had hidden himself from them like one hiding in a cloud and who refused to hear their prayers.
III. God is merciful but He will not tolerate continued disobedience.
A. The nation of Judah learned the hard way that God does not tolerate disobedience especially when it comes from His children.
1. The people instead of gaining their joy from living in obedience to God they decided to do it their way seeking to gain joy by pursuing the pleasures of the world.
2. The way of blessing is found in self examination, and turning back to the Lord. Unconfessed sin is not pardoned.
3. All their enemies mocked while God’s people experienced fear, danger, and destruction. The devastation of his people caused the prophet to weep without interruption
B. The poet revealed himself as an eyewitness to Jerusalem’s downfall and as a person of deep sensitivity.
1. As we have discovered misery, rejection and loneliness are the results of disobedience and Jeremiah experienced each and every one.
2. Jeremiah was determined to continue this flow of tears until God looked down and took note of his distraught prophet.
3. Although Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the pain and suffering he was not to blame for the destruction that came upon Judah.
IV. Jeremiah sought God seeking the help and comfort that only He could give.
A. The requests that Jeremiah brought before the Lord.
1. From deep within this dark hole Jeremiah pleads with the Lord to come to the assistance of His people.
2. Though Jeremiah prayed in the first person singular, he had assumed the role of an intercessor. The me was really us.
3. The Lord had seen all the wrong done to his people—the vengeful acts and taunting words of Judah’s enemies. Jeremiah called upon God to judge those who had committed wrongs against the Jews, to repay these enemies for the deeds they had done.
4. He asked that these adversaries experience “blindness of heart,” intellectual confusion. He wanted the curse of God to rest upon them. He asked God to destroy them from off the face of the earth. This was not a desire for personal vengeance, but a plea for justice.
B. God’s answer to the prayers of Jeremiah.
1. God had heard Jeremiah’s desperate plea from the midst of that dark hole. He reassures Jeremiah with the words, “Do not be afraid.”
2. God had redeemed the life of his prophet. Therefore, Jeremiah had confidence that God would listen to his present appeal for help.
3. From a historical perspective we have no doubt that God heard and answered Jeremiah’s prayer.
4. The Babylonian empire would progressively deteriorate until Cyrus the Persian would conquer them in 539 BC.
V. Three principles that we need to apply to our own lives from this text.
A. When we find ourselves in a “deep dark hole”, we need to examine our lives and return to God.
1. God will not answer our prayers as long as we persist in disobedience.
2. Once we acknowledge our disobedience and turn back to Him, He will restore us.
3. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9—NIV)
B. When cross paths with others who are in a “deep dark hole” we should seek to comfort them.
1. When we are down we quickly discover that we need to know that someone cares about us.
2. A listening ear and a compassionate embrace can go a long way toward easing the burden of someone’s pain.
3. One thing God desires us to learn from our own pain is how to use what we have learned to help others.
C. Regardless of what we are suffering, a good understanding of God’s character and desire for our lives will help ease the pain and give us hope.
1. Until we understand God’s character and how He deals with us we are unprepared for the storms that will most certainly strike our lives.
2. The better we know God and the deeper our relationship with Him is, the better we are prepared to stand in the face of whatever comes our way.
3. That is the exact reason that we should take every opportunity to get to know God more fully.
One of the most powerful prayers in the midst of suffering I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women. Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis. Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote The Hiding Place, was imprisoned there too. The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says:
O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness Lamentations 3:21-23
When we think of faithfulness we think of someone who is, firm in his or her commitment. We think of someone who is permanent in his or her position. We think of someone who is reliable. When we think of the many people of the Scriptures that represents faithfulness the Prophet Jeremiah quickly come to mind.
Jeremiah is the author of the Book of Lamentations. Jeremiah is also referred to as the weeping prophet. The Book of Lamentations tells of his sorrows over the tragedy that befell the city, the country and, the people of Israel. In response to what happened, he urged repentance. He knew that God was a God of mercy and compassion. He stood in the Gap for his people and urged them to return to God. Through the pages of Lamentations, we are given a glimpse into the awful sufferings endured by the people of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar. However, Jeremiah knew what God would do for his people and for himself. Jeremiah knew that God was faithful. Jeremiah knew that God would do what He said He would do.
God told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1: 5-6, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.’ Jeremiah being a little insecure replied ‘Lord Jehovah, behold, I know not how to speak for I am a child.’ Many times, God calls upon us to do something we feel is strange. God calls us to do the impossible task and we deem ourselves inadequate. However, we must come to understand that with men it is impossible but not with God. For with God all things are possible.
It is here in Lamentations where the Prophet remembered that although he is a man of constant sorrows and he has seen many afflictions by the rod of God’s wrath, there is still hope. Jeremiah knew that God was His portion. Therefore, he had hope. He knew God to be faithful because every morning in spite of his sin, God gave him mercy. After all that Jeremiah had endured, among the rubble and ruin of Jerusalem, he is able to stand forth and lift his voice in praise to God for His great, unfailing faithfulness to His people!
Jeremiah was able to do this because he had a great perspective of God. Regardless of the situation or the circumstance, Jeremiah knew that God was still God. He knew God would be eternally faithful to His people. Today, as we go through difficult and trying times let us consider Jeremiah’s witness of God’s faithfulness. When bad times or hard times, come to us, let us realize that God has made the heaven and the earth by His great power and there is nothing to hard for God.
Like Jeremiah, we must face our mountains of success and valleys of failures. Like Jeremiah, we, too, are men and women of constant sorrows, nevertheless there is hope. There is hope because one day on Calvary God showed His faithfulness to the world. There is hope because Apostle John tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The songwriter wrote a very profound song. He wrote, ‘Great is thy Faithfulness, Oh God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with thee… Thou changeth not… Thou compassions, they fail not. As thou have been thou forever will be. Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see All I have needed thou hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord God unto me.
Study on Faith and God’s Faithfulness
All Scripture is (ESV)
Have Faith -.
Mark 11:22 And Jesus answered them, • “Have faith in God.
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Ps 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
faith in God. or, the faith of God. Col 2:12
The Faithfulness of God
1. Is part of his character.
2. Declared to be
a. Great. La 3:23.
b. Established. Ps 89:2.
c. Incomparable. Ps 89:8.
d. Unfailing. Ps 89:33
e. Infinite. Ps 36:5.
f. Everlasting. Ps 119:90
3. Should be pleaded in prayer. Ps 143:1.
4. Should be proclaimed. Ps 40:10; 89:1.
a. In his counsels. Isa 25:1.
b. In afflicting his saints. Ps 119:75.
c. In fulfilling his promises. 1Ki 8:20
d. In keeping his covenant. De 7:9
e. In executing his judgments. Jer 23:20
f. In forgiving sins. 1Jo 1:9.
g. To his saints. Ps 89:24
h. Saints encouraged to depend on. 1Pe 4:19.
i. Should be magnified. Ps 89:5; 92:2.
Our Daily Bread - September 19, 2007
The Faithfulness Of God
Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” —Mark 11:22
Some of Jesus’ words to His disciples about having faith in God leave me wondering if I can ever exercise that level of trust and confidence in prayer. I can’t recall telling a mountain to relocate itself into the ocean and watching it happen.
Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to China, said that Jesus’ words in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God,” could be translated, “Hold on to the faithfulness of God.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, former pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel, appreciated Taylor’s insight and said: “Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God and, as long as you do that, you cannot go wrong. Faith does not look at the difficulties. . . . Faith does not look at itself or at the person who is exercising it. Faith looks at God . . . . Faith is interested in God only, and it talks about God and it praises God and it extols the virtues of God. The measure of the strength of a man’s faith, always, is ultimately the measure of his knowledge of God. . . . He knows God so well that he can rest on the knowledge. And it is the prayers of such a man that are answered.”
“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (Ps. 119:89-90).
—David C. McCasland
Trust in Him, ye saints, forever—
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him. —Kelly
Life is not always fair, but God is always faithful.
kjv King James Version
rsv Revised Standard Version
J.G.G. John G. Gammie, Ph.D.; Emma A. Harwell Professor of Biblical Literature; University of Tulsa; Tulsa, Oklahoma
Achtemeier, Paul J. ; Harper & Row, Publishers ; Society of Biblical Literature: Harper's Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1985, S. 581
Willmington, H. L.: The Outline Bible. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 1999, S. La 3:40-42
Osbeck, Kenneth W.: Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Kregel Publications, 1990, S. 348
cf. confer, compare
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
ca. circa, about
ed. edited, edition, editor
cf. confer, compare
cf. confer, compare
Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:1218
Hughes, Robert B. ; Laney, J. Carl: Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2001 (The Tyndale Reference Library), S. 291
Huey, F.B.: Jeremiah, Lamentations. electronic ed. Nashville : Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1993 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 16), S. 447
OT Old Testament
niv New International Version
Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. La 3:1-49
Torrey, R.A.: The New Topical Text Book : A Scriptural Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos research Systems, Inc., 1995, c1897