Introduction Of The Book Of Lamentations – Jerusalem’s Destruction And Fall

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Bible Trivia Q & A 20200119

Lamentations

A communal response to the fall of Jerusalem

By Jeremiah, the heartbroken prophet

Oh, the pain and despair of it all! How can God allow such oppression, such suffering, such agony? There are no words to title this book, only the “aaghh” of grief and despair. And so it begins.

The people of Judah are broken, humiliated, and abandoned in the aftermath of Jerusalem’s destruction and fall at the hand of Babylon (586 B.C.). Grief can be such dark chaos.

Words tumble recklessly, senselessly, out of a heart broken with total despair. But how does one express these dark thoughts?


Acrostic Poems

They need shape and order. To get a handle on this sadness, to pull the thoughts together, they are brought under the discipline of poetry. They are forced into the order of an acrostic, or rather four separate acrostic poems.

In the Hebrew each poetic set of lines begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with the exception of chapter 3 where sets of three lines are set as an acrostic.


Speak the Unspeakable

The words and thoughts are made to conform to this literary device simply to make it possible to bend these horrific scenes into a shape that the people can bear and remember long after the event.

In this way, the writer (whoever he may be) can speak the unspeakable. This English translation uses a form of the acrostic without the strict adherence to the Hebrew style. This poetic form is essential to the presentation of the message.


Mournful Lines

Tradition associates this book with Jeremiah, so the Christian canon places it after Jeremiah’s prophecy.

There is nothing in the book itself to say who composed its mournful lines, but it was obviously written in the land of and for a people completely devastated by Babylon’s victory.


Dark Moments

Lamentations is not just the record of a dark period in history, but it also faces head-on some of the most difficult issues that God’s people must ever consider.

  • How can a loving God allow His people to suffer in such a horrible fashion?
  • How can a sovereign God let other nations oppress His own?
  • How can pain and utter loss be reconciled with God’s mercy, righteousness, and justice?

Echoing through these dark moments is the voice of hope, for the Lord is using these harsh measures to bring His wayward people back to Him.

From the dust of destruction comes the rebuilding of the nation and the hope of His redeeming love. God’s anger may not last forever, but His faithfulness to His covenant promises will. For those who put their trust in God, every day is an opportunity to experience His love and mercy.



Lamentations 1:10

The people of Judah and Jerusalem have had many opportunities to recognize their failings.

Now they learn that their choices have grave consequences. For generations they have ignored the warnings and continued in idolatry, dependence upon foreign powers, and oppression of the less fortunate.

Yes, the sacrifices in the temple have continued, but they have continually turned away from God. One prophet after another has called them back to a life of trust in the Lord, but they still look to others for assurance. Time has run out.


Lamentations 2:8

For generations the Judeans have looked upon the temple in their midst as a comfort and even a protection. Jeremiah stood before the temple and preached to these same people that they should not trust in the lying words of others:

“Change your ways and stop what you are doing, and I will let you live in this land. Do not rely on the misguided words, ‘The temple of the Eternal, the temple of the Eternal, the temple of the Eternal,’ as if the temple’s presence alone will protect you ” (Jeremiah 7:3–4).

Even good things from God can be misconstrued to turn us away from Him. Now the temple itself will be brought low because of the hard hearts of the people.


Lamentations 3:34

Hope is realized when the next generation of exiles in Babylonia receive God’s mercy and are brought back to the promised land, Palestine, in a second exodus, a journey not unlike what the Israelites experienced as they left Egypt under Moses’ leadership.

God surely causes grief and torment, but He also provides kindness that originates from His heart of compassion.

The discipline administered by the heavenly Father hurts, but the pain is not lasting and actually reflects His compassion. When the Lord sends affliction, it is instructive, restorative, and temporary.

Affliction and judgment may sometimes come from the Almighty, but what always springs from the heart of God is a deep and eternal mercy for His people.


Lamentations 4:11

Is this poetic hyperbole, or could such a horror really have happened? Even today, famine and disease cause devastation in developing nations reminiscent of what this poet describes happening in Jerusalem.

Suffering will always exist because sin — rebellion against God — affects every aspect of a culture at every level of society.

When Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem in the early sixth century B.C., he did not allow any food or provision to enter the city; he literally waited for God’s people in Jerusalem to starve to death.

As the executioner of God’s judgment, Nebuchadnezzar punished everyone equally, regardless of the severity of his or her sins, because all sin is worthy of death. The people in Jerusalem really experienced God’s dark cloud and His frowning countenance.

 



12 thoughts on “Introduction Of The Book Of Lamentations – Jerusalem’s Destruction And Fall

  1. Awesome review you have here,  

    In a nutshell Lamentations has traditionally been ascribed to Jeremiah, probably on the grounds of the reference in 2 Chronicles 35:25 to the prophet composing a lament on the death of King Josiah, but there is no reference to Josiah in the book and no reason to connect it to Jeremiah.

    Hope this goes a long way to understanding the review

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this Bible Study Session being Awesome.

      I am truly grateful for the creation, the continuous growth and hope that this website will continue to prosper from educational Bible Study information about books of the Holy Bible such as this.

      Blessings To You My Friend!

  2. This is a great site that you can use to spread the gospel. 

    The page has great spacing and categorization of the different topics. The only thing that I would consider changing is the awkward use of the WA promotion in the middle of the page. 

    Don’t get me wrong, WA can virtually get promoted anywhere and it can definitely get included on this site as well, the only thing that you might want to consider doing is encouraging your audience to start their own outlet to share the word and use WA as their vehicle to do just so.

    1. Thank you for your comment about this being an Awesome website for the spreading of the Gospel.

      I respectfully accept your advice concerning the placement of my W.A. promotion, and I will consider placing it in a more convenient location acceptable for this site.

      Warm Regards To You My Friend! 

  3. These ancient texts and books of the bible are full of lessons that have been studied and analyzed for literally a millennium! I find them to be great sources of inspiration — great to challenge thoughts for introspection and reflection. 

    Considering the original writer was speaking the unspeakable, and that even that translated text has been translated again and again, how much do you think has been lost in the translations? 

    Some of the messages can resonate with a very bleak outlook, which is helpful if accurate, but a heavy distraction if overstated. 

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for your interest in this Holy Bible Study Session. 

      Here in these Holy Bible Sessions on this website, we are studying information in the Holy Bible. I find it quite difficult to study information that we don’t have, nor am I concerned with it. My main concern is, to have a healthy relationship with GOD, through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

      Thank you for reading and commenting on this study session.

      I Wish You Lots of Blessings on Your Journey!

  4. Hi Jerry,

    Thank you for this overview of Lamentations. 

    Regarding the questions raised in your dark moments section, the way I look at it is that the children of Israel had countless opportunities to remain faithful to God and His word, but chose again and again to turn from Him. I suppose, like any loving father would, God allowed his children to reap the rewards of the sin that they sowed, but was ever ready to deliver them and return them to His loving fold. 

    1. Hello,

      I also agree that the Love as a father, in a somewhat comparison to the people of Israel, depends largely on God’s guidance in our daily lives, but during this present day in time, many of us think we are too busy and ignore this important role and the relationship we should have with GOD.

      I Hope For Many Blessings For You My Friend!

  5. Going into the scriptures is another good dimensions brought into this, the book of lamentation is a poetic scripture which is very knowledgeable when well applied. Many Christians are failing because of non believing in the old testament, they are very rich in knowledge. The bible is just too complete.

  6. Hello there,

    Thanks for the review it was really helpful. The book of Lamentations was written, not simply to memorialize the tragic destruction of Jerusalem, but to interpret the meaning of God’s rigorous treatment of his people, to the end that they would learn the lessons of the past and retain their faith in him in the face of overwhelming disaster. 

    This book teaches us not to be disobedient to God in any way.

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