Thru the Bible – Day 185

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Day 185 – Thru the Bible

Today we complete Lamentations. Well done!

Lamentations 4 – This poem is similar in tone to chapter 2, but announces the completion of Jerusalem’s punishment. Central to its teaching is the common suffering of all the people of Judah. Yet it is suffering that is self-inflicted. The Christian doctrine of original sin does not relieve us of our responsibility as sinners. We sin because we want to, and because it is our nature to hate God until his Spirit draws us to Himself through the gospel (Romans 1:28–32; 5:12). God’s grace is so profound that it gets deep down inside us, even to the level of desire (Romans 8:5–15).

Zion’s inviolability is a myth when used as a cloak for rebellion against Zion’s God. The status of leaders does not cover their sin and its consequences. Nevertheless, the word of comfort cannot be suppressed. Out of exile shall come redemption, and Zion will be comforted (2 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).

“The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished.” With these words God promises that the punishment of His people will end—it has a terminus, as opposed to what will happen to Edom. But despite the merciful contrast being expressed, we still must ask, “How could it be that the punishment of the covenant people will end?” Israel has proven horribly rebellious time and time again, and all against a righteous and holy God. On top of that, as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). So how can a just God end the punishment of an unceasingly sinful people?

The answer is that the punishment of God’s people is accomplished only in the perfect sacrifice of “the Lord’s anointed” who was promised to provide an everlasting kingdom for His people. He and He alone atones for sin. We are invited to trust Him and fall down in gratitude at His feet. He is worthy of all our praise. He is the sinless Anointed One who sacrificially took punishment He did not deserve to end our punishment for all time.

How does this reminder of God’s love encourage you today?

 

Lamentations 5 – As chapter 4 mirrors chapter 2, so chapter 5 returns to the desolation of chapter 1. But there is a significant difference, for here hope is a constant theme. This hope grows out of the realization of guilt, the confession of which leads to hope in God’s mercy. The plea that God should remember becomes a plea for restoration. The author realizes that Israel’s sin is not momentary. The reference to the sins of the fathers only demonstrates this people’s continuing lineage of sin and in no sense diminishes their guilt.

Though Lamentations focuses on one particular horrifying event, it becomes relevant for all time. Its darkness reveals the utter lostness of sinful humanity. But through the storm clouds streams a bright beam of hope that stems from God’s mercy. This hope in the covenant faithfulness of God finds its full realization in Jesus as He takes the weight of our rebellion upon Himself on the cross of Calvary.

Lamentations guides our lips and our hearts in how to relate to this world. On the one hand, we are to take the horrors of this fallen world with utter seriousness. Believers of all people should not be frivolous or trite, given our doctrine of creation, the fall, and original sin. Yet on the other hand, the redemptive purposes of God in His grace get down even underneath the weight of sin and fallenness. Jesus has Himself gone through suffering and death and has come out on the other side. He has conquered every final reason for us to throw our hands up in the air. In Him, kindness appeared in tangible, human form, yet not kindness that ignores evil and sadness. This was a steely kindness that came for the very purpose of overcoming all evil and sadness.

The writer of Lamentations says, “The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning.” Such is the state of the soul that many of us will find ourselves experiencing at various seasons of life. Yet this state is not our final status. One day all joy will be restored, and mourning will turn to dancing. Jesus, who underwent the ultimate mourning in Gethsemane as He prepared to suffer for our sin, has secured our eternal joy. His suffering means our acceptance. This is the great exchange of the gospel. Look the horrors of this world and of your own soul square in the face, and trust Him.

When you go through diffuser time, how do you remember that this is not the final chapter of life with Jesus?

 

What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?

 

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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