LIFEGROUPS: WEEKLY DISCUSSION GUIDE
Week of February 14, 2021
SERIES: Learning to Lament
Week #1: How!?!?
This weekend Pastor Brian begins a new series called, “Learning to Lament.” Over the next five weeks, we will walk together through the Old Testament book of Lamentations. Here is an overview of the first message in this important and impactful series.
How!?!? This exclamatory question is one that we, at least subtly, have been asking during these days, weeks, and months. As we look at the events going on around us, we are led to ask: How!?!? How did we end up here? How did this happen? It’s a question the people of God were asking in their day as well.
The book of Lamentations, found in the Ketuvim (Writings) in the Hebrew Bible, is a collection of 5 stand-alone poems tied to the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 586 BC. The destruction of the city, who just days before had been thriving, left the people wondering and questioning what had happened. How!?!? The city was deemed undefeatable. They had the favor of God, the Temple that housed the presence of God, and the prophecy of a throne that would never end. How could it all be destroyed?
The people had begun to think that they could live however they wanted without consequence. They committed grievous sins both as people and as a nation. They thought that because of their favor with God, He would not judge them. Yet, in Deuteronomy, God had specifically told them that obedience would bring blessing while willful disobedience would yeild destruction. And this was exactly what had happened. God judged the community and national sin of his people just as He promised. How had the city gone from what it was to what it was now? That is how.
These five poems are a lament over the fall of Jerusalem. It is a funeral for the City of Peace that was inhabited by God and his chosen people. It is a reminder and lesson to us as well. Let’s take a look at what their lamenting can teach us as we are Learning to Lament.
LESSONS FROM LAMENTATIONS CHAPTER 1
- Destruction gives birth to lament. (1:1-11)
- Lamentations 1:4-5 “The roads to Zion mourn, for none come to the festival; all her gates are desolate; her priests groan; her virgins have been afflicted, and she herself suffers bitterly. Her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper, because the Lord has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.”
- This was the state of the city. It’s destruction led the writer to lament.
- Lament yields a cry for compassion in the right direction. (1:12-17)
- Lamentations 1:17 “Zion stretches out her hands, but there is none to comfort her; the Lord has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should be his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.”
- The writer turns to the Lord. He is asking the Lord to “see him.”
- Look, O Lord and see I am despised… SEE ME
- Look, O Lord and see I am distressed… SEE ME
- Lament results in confession of sin. (1:18-22)
- Lamentations 1:18 “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word…”
- The first lament focuses on the misery of a people who suffered the consequences of ignoring the prophets’ warnings that God punishes those who sin.
- It serves as a solemn reminder of the ultimate misery and sorrow of all who think they can escape God’s judgment of sin.
- But here is the good news! We serve a God who loves with a steadfast love. He loves even a people who have been condemned for their unfaithfulness.
- Lamentations 3:21-22 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
- In 586 BC Jerusalem was decimated as a result of her rebellion against God. That was not however, the end of Jerusalem or Judah for that matter. Out of Judah would come the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Jesus. Somewhere around 30 AD just outside the walls of a Roman occupied Jerusalem, Jesus was decimated as a result of our rebellion against God.
- This is steadfast love. This is his mercy. This is his grace, the substitute for our eternal punishment. The Prince of Peace makes our new Jerusalem the city of eternal peace. This is the gospel. Christ died in our place and turned our weeping into dancing.
- We need to lament now.
- God will judge national sin and personal sin.
- He will judge every nation, the whole of the earth according to the Bible. Every person will face the righteous judgment of God. We are either saved through the blood of Christ by faith or we are not saved from the wrath of God against sin.
- America is not the “new Israel”, but it is a unique country founded on Judeo-Christian principles and yet wrought with national sin.
- God is judging. We may not have experienced a Nebuchadnezzar, but we are killing ourselves from the inside out.
- Romans 1:28-32 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
- We must cry out for compassion in the right direction as we lament our disobedience.
- We are crying out in many directions. For a political leader. For a government. For policy and representation.
- Perhaps we should cry out to the One who is sovereign over all of this. Perhaps we should cry out to the King for compassion.
- Our cry should be: See us Lord. Comfort us Lord. Deliver us Lord. Have compassion and mercy on us Lord.
- We must confess our sin nationally and personally as we lament.
- From what must we confess? Not those people, or that leader, but from the consequences of our own sin. This is where we make a mistake. We focus on the sins of others. And how “they” got us into this mess. Nope. We need to confess our part and ask the Lord to give us comfort. See us. Don’t leave us. We have sinned against you.
- God will judge national sin and personal sin.
- What sin do I need to confess and lament today?
- Where have I/we turned away from the Lord?
ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION
Lamentations is not a book that we typically turn to for our daily devotion. The name itself is one that speaks of sorrow and scares many away. Why would I read a book full of poems about sorrow and despair? But there is great value here. Why? Because the nature and character of God is expressed in these words just as they are in a more familiar or favorable book of the Bible. There is much to learn in these pages. There is much to be encouraged and challenged by. Learning to Lament is important to our relationship with God. Encourage you group at the start of this series to really lean into these words and ask God to speak clearly to their lives.
One of the ways we are encouraging our church to do this is through reading one chapter of Lamentations a week. But instead of reading it one time, we are encouraging you to read this same chapter each day for a week. Grab a Bible, pen, journal, and use a tool like S.O.A.P. to guide your reading and reflection. To find out more, go to www.bayarea.church/live and click on “Reading Plan” for a guide and calendar for daily readings.
As you begin each group discussion during this series, ask your group members to share how the Lord has been speaking to them by answering these questions:
Q: What were some specific scriptures that stood out to you as you read the chapter this week?
Q: What were some of the observations you made about this chapter this past week?
Q: How did you seek to apply these truths to your life?
Q: What have you been praying for this week? How has God answered your prayers?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask and discuss the following questions.
Q: How is the destruction of Jerusalem described in Lamentations chapter 1? Why was Jerusalem destroyed?
Q: What specific words or phrases in chapter 1 reflect the depth of the lament and sorrow the writer feels over the destruction of the city?
Q: What does this chapter reveal to us about the character and nature of God? How should this affect the way we see and relate to God?
Q: What does this chapter reveal to us about sin and its results? How should this affect the way we view and deal with sin in our life?
Q: Read Lamentations 1:14. How does this verse describe our sin and its results in our life? How does sin promise freedom but then ultimately lead to captivity? How have you seen this in your own life?
Q: Why should we lament our sin? What role does lamenting have in our relationship with God?
Q: What does it look like for us to lament our sin?
Q: What can keep us from lamenting our sin, confessing it to God, and finding forgiveness and restoration?
Q: Read Lamentations 3:21-22. Where can we find hope when we are facing the consequences of our sin? Why is this important to remember when we are lamenting sin?
Lamenting and confessing sin is an important part of our relationship with God. Seeing our sin for what it really is and understanding the consequences of disobedience helps us understand the mercy, grace, and love of God all the more. While it is not a fun discipline, it’s an important one. As we conclude our group time this week, take a few minutes and walk through these final questions with you group.
- What did you hear?
- What is your one “take-away” from this week?
- What do you think?
- How did this passage and study affirm, challenge, or change the way you think about God, sin, and what it means to lament?
- What will you do?
- What is your next step? How will you take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to your life this week?
Have group members share their answers to the above questions. Close with prayer asking God to help us understand the importance of learning to lament this next week.
Encourage group members to read Lamentations chapter 2 each day this next week. The daily repetition of reading this chapter will allow God to reveal new and different things to them each time. Challenge them to come ready to share some observations they made throughout their daily reading with the group next week. Close in prayer.
SCRIPTURES FROM THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:
- Lamentations 1, Romans 1:28-32
February 14, 2021 Lamentations 1
February 21, 2021 Lamentations 2
February 28, 2021 Lamentations 3
March 7, 2021 Lamentations 4
March 14, 2021 Lamentations 5