Lamentations Overview

The Historical Books of the Old Testament, Genesis to Esther, are the story of the Rise and Fall of the Hebrew Nation.

The Poetical Books, Job to Song of Solomon, roughly, belong to the Golden Age of the Hebrew Nation.

The Prophetical Books, Isaiah to Malachi, belong to the days of the Fall of the Hebrew Nation.

Classified as to time:

The whole period of the prophets, roughly, covered 400 years, 800 BC to 400 BC.

The central event during this period is the destruction of Jerusalem.

13 of the prophets are connected with the Destruction of the Hebrew nation: 3 with its restoration. 

The Northern Kingdom fell, 734-721 B.C. Preceding, and during, this period were: Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah Micah.

The Southern Kingdom fell, 605-586 B.C. In this period were: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.

The Restoration of the Nation occurred 536-444 B.C. Connected with this were: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.       NOTE THEY ARE THE LAST THREE! 

Classified as to who their message was mainly to:

To Judah: Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

To Israel: Amos, Hosea

To Nineveh: Jonah, Nahum

To Babylon: Daniel

To Captives in Babylon: Ezekiel

To Edom: Obadiah 

The difference between prophets and priests:

Priests were the regularly appointed religious teachers of the nation. They were a hereditary class, and were often the wickedest men in the nation. Still they were religious teachers. Instead of crying out against the sins of the people, they fell in with them, and became leaders in iniquity. Prophets were not a hereditary class. Each one got his call directly from God. They were called from different vocations. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were priests; and perhaps also Zechariah. Isaiah, Daniel, and Zephaniah, were of royal blood. Amos was a shepherd. What the rest were is not known.                 -Halley’s Bible Handbook

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Jeremiah chapter 52 recounted the Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem is so significant, 10 different aspects of it are recounted in 2 Kings 25, the book of Jeremiah, and the book of Lamentations.

They are:

The siege of Jerusalem

The famine in the city

The flight of the army and the king

The burning of the palace, temple, and city

The breaching of the city’s walls

The exile of the populace

The looting of the temple

The execution of the leaders

The vassal status of Judah

The collapse of the expected foreign help

-Moody Press, MacArthur Study Bible

Jeremiah 52:28 is interesting, detailing the taking of the Jews to Babylon

3,023 men; 2 Kings 12 lets us know that 18,000 total were taken

The Book of Lamentations

Lamentations is the 25th book of the Old Testament and Bible.

This is probably the book Jeremiah didn’t want to write.

When his predictions of societal decay came true, a talk radio host wrote a book entitled, “I Told You So.”

When Jeremiah’s prophecy about the Destruction of Jerusalem came true, he wrote the book of Lamentations.

In this you really see Jeremiah’s heart.

Many times as a Pastor I have warned people about the path they were heading down. I have told them not only can God not bless the sinful course they are on, He has to judge it.

Sometimes those people have come back to me on the other side, and in brokenness they have confessed that I was right.

I have never responded to them by being happy I was right, but tried to compassionately meet them where they were, mourn with them and point them to the hope the repentant have in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah is a beautiful picture of doing that in the book of Lamentations. 

What word is within the word Lamentation?                Lament

To lament is to feel or express sorrow.

Jeremiah poetically puts into words the overwhelming sense of loss he and the nation were feeling.

Sinful people often act like death and destruction will never come, but when it does, they call for the preacher to help make sense of it all. And that’s what Jeremiah does.

The theme of Lamentations is twofold:

We have reaped what we have sown.         BUT…

Yahweh is not done with us yet!  

The Structure of Lamentations is 4 Poems and a prayer.

The first four chapters are in the acrostic format! In other words, each verse starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In chapter three, the formula contains three verses in a row before going to the next letter. So the first four chapters have 22, 22, 66, and 22 verses each, corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew Alphabet.

The Five Chapters could be summarized as follows:

1        Grief

2        Punishment

3        Hope

4        Confession

5        Prayer

A Closer Look at Lamentations:

1:4     Great language: The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes for the appointed festivals.

1:5     The Lord has made her suffer because of her many transgressions.

1:14   How well said – My transgressions have been formed into a yoke

The wages of sin is death

Sins have built in consequences           -         Wow!

2:6     God given credit for destroying temple, abolishing festivals and Sabbaths

2:11   My eyes are worn out from weeping

The weeping prophet

Have you any tears for sin’s consequences?

2:14   Where are the deceptive and empty words of prophets now?

2:17   God will judge sin

3:18-33       Great is Thy Faithfulness! 

THERE IS HOPE!

Notice in verse 22 there’s the key word of the poetic books again: Hesed, God’s Faithful love, here translated mercies!

3:39   Can any sinner really complain when his sins are punished!

No, sins deserve punishment! But oh the toll, the high cost of sin!

3:40-42        The appeal to turn back to the Lord!

4:6     Punishment compared to Sodom

4:10   The extent of the suffering

4:13   The sins of the prophets and priests

Stricter judgment for leaders!

4:15   We are now all unclean! All rejected!

Chapter 5   A Prayer for Restoration

Verse 7 may be true of our economic woes a comin!

Verse 21

Lord, restore us to Yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times.

Let me encourage you to lament some when you are in your prayer closet – face your grief and your disappointment head on, take it to God – He can handle it!

But in your grief don’t forget God’s faithfulness and His promises!

What are some of your favorite promises?