SERIES: Learning to Lament
Week #2: Destruction
This weekend Pastor Zac continues our journey through the Old Testament book of Lamentations series called, “Learning to Lament.”
Lamentations chapter 2 gives the reader an even more detailed look at the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem brought by the Babylonians in 586 BC. In addition to the actual siege on the city, the author, believed to be Jeremiah, gives an eye-witness account of the full nature of the calamity and ongoing struggle of those left in Jerusalem.
In these detailed and at times horrific words, we can learn some important lessons.
LEARNING FROM LAMENTATIONS CHAPTER 2
- LESSONS FROM LAMENTATIONS 2
- The anger of the Lord is righteous. (2:1)
- What happened was the work of the Lord. It was his righteous anger now directed at his rebellious people because of their sin.
- Notice: Jeremiah never condemns the Lord – his anger or his actions. God’s anger was just. His wrath was justified. The people had been warned, they had been wrong. They had turned from the Lord to sin.
- Psalm 7:11 ESV “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”
- The anger of the Lord is righteous. (2:1)
- The judgement of the Lord is severe. (2:2, 5, 7-8)
- The consequences of their sin were great. They were severe. This is how serious God is about sin.
- The power of God that has fought for the people of Judah was now against them. The same power that had worked miracles was now bringing destruction. He has become like an enemy.
- God will judge the world –the consequences will be expressed differently – but they will be devastating.
- Matthew 25:31-32, 34 & 41 ESV “31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats… 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
- Sin and its consequences affect everyone. (2:9-12)
- The consequences of their sin affected everyone (directly and indirectly) – there was no one removed from the penalty of sin.
- The actual siege on Jerusalem lasted two years. Once the walls were breeched, there was much pain, destruction, and loss of life. But this was not all there was. Jeremiah (describing in first person detail) is talking of the subsequent conditions and hardship. The closing verses describes horrific things. There was famine, thirst, torture, slaughter, and even cannibalism.
- Many of the things they were experiencing in their destruction, exile, and rule by the Babylonians were the very same things the people of God has been guilty of doing to others.
- And it affected everyone. Even innocent bystanders can be hurt and caught up in the consequences and effects of sin (vs. 19-20)
- That’s the way sin works:
- No one is righteous – all have sinned.
- Romans 3:23 ESV “23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
- Romans 6:23 ESV “23 For the wages of sin is death…”
- The consequences of sin affect not only the one sinning – but can even affect those around them.
- It was the personal and national sin of the people that was being judged – and both personal and national sin have consequences that affect and impact everyone (both the one committing the sin and others – even the innocent.)
- We tend to minimize our sin…but we need to see both sin and its consequences for the serious things they are.
- No one is righteous – all have sinned.
- The sorrow of the prophet is great. (2:11)
- Jeremiah is writing this and sharing his utter devastation and sorrow at what he is witnessing. This is affecting not only his emotions but it is also affecting him physically.
- When was the last time we were moved in a similar way when it came to our sin and the sin around us? The brokenness and hardship we see in our lives and around us because of our sin. This is lamenting.
- The words of the Lord are trustworthy and true. (2:17)
- The Lord had warned the people – from long ago. He made them a promise – be my people, follow and obey me and I will bless you and bless others through you. But if you choose to disobey and not follow me, I will curse you and bring hardship, defeat, and destruction to you.
- Deuteronomy 28:1-2 ESV “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
- Deuteronomy 28:15, 25, 36, 45 ESV “15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you… 25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies… 36 “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37 And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away… 45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you.”
- Jeremiah is describing and lamenting the fulfillment of these words. The people rejected God – they choose sin and disobedience and now the promised consequences have come.
- The right response to sin and judgment is to lament now. (2:18-22)
- Jeremiah, in light of all that he has seen and described – calls for the people to cry out to God. Their only hope in these days is to cry out, lament of sin, and turn to the Lord.
- Even though Jeremiah believes the judgement is right – righteous – justified. We still hear the utter anguish of what they are experiencing. In their honesty, we see the destruction that sin can bring and understand what it means to lament.
- There is no resolution – just the cries of a wounded people because of sin.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
- Where does this leave us today? We need to learn from these lessons and understand that the right response to sin and its consequences is to lament and turn to God.
- We need to see that the Lord is right in his anger toward sin.
A GREATER HOPE
- There is a hope greater than all of this.
- Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
- The hope and love of Jesus is greater than the consequences of sin and the coming judgement of the Lord.
- The Lord is a God of redemption and restoration. Judgement is coming for sin – but God made a way for us to be forgiven and free. Jesus came and took our place. The judgement and wrath of God – His righteous anger for our sin was placed on Jesus. Jesus took our place. He took the punishment and consequences of sin that we deserve.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- This means that we have a hope greater than our sin!
- Everyone will give an account of their lives – how they lived. In that day, our only and best hope is Jesus.
- Romans 3:23 ESV “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 6:23 ESV ” 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- We need to lament and confess of sin – cry out to Jesus for forgiveness and new life.
- To unbelievers: We need to choose today to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
- To believers: – we need to lament of sin. Both personal and corporate. We need to confess where we have gone wrong. Confess where we as His followers have chosen something less than His ways and His kingdom in our lives and our churches.
- We need to lament – to confess, cry out, and turn back to God.
ICEBREAKER QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION
Group Check-in: This has been a challenging week for many in our church and community. Our groups have done an incredible job staying in touch with members and helping to meet needs. Thank you for this! Take some time as you begin this week to do another quick “check-in” with your group (if needed).
- How is everyone doing physically as of today (Power, water, heat, needed repairs, etc.)? How can we help with these things?
- How is everyone doing emotionally? How are you feeling? How can we encourage and support you?
- How is everyone doing spiritually? How have you seen God at work this past week? How can we pray for you?
After listening in, take time to plan for any needed response and pray for your group, their friends and family in need, those in our church, and others in our community.
Once again, begin your discussion by having your group look back on their readings from this past week.
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 your 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: What new details do we see about the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent hardships of the people in Lamentations 2? How would you describe the situation and circumstances the people were facing?
Q: What does this chapter teach us about the character and nature of God? What about this could be challenging to us? Why are these truths important for us to know and understand?
Q: What does the Bible teach us about the coming judgement of the Lord? What will be the result of this final judgement? (i.e. Matthew 25)
Q: How do we sometimes minimize our sin and the effects of our sin on our lives and in the lives of others? Why do we do this? What is a better response?
Q: How can we be more like Jeremiah in how we view and respond to sin, its devastation, and its consequences?
Q: What does Lamentations 2 teach us about the words and promises of God? What difference should this make in our lives?
Q: Read Lamentations 3:21-24. How do these verses point to the hope we find in Jesus?
The destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent hardships reveal to us the severity of sin. While we may be tempted to minimize our sin and the results it can bring, we need to be reminded of sin’s seriousness and how God views sin. In this, we are encouraged when we look to Jesus. Even though our sin means we deserve punishment, we have hope in Jesus. He took our place. The punishment of sin was placed upon him. Our forgiveness was not free and easy…its devastation was placed on Jesus. He willingly took our place and paid the price for our sin. This is the hope that we have, and this should compel us to pursue righteousness and obedience in our lives. While the ultimate price for our sin has been paid, sin still brings destruction and devastation to our lives and the lives of others. Let’s learn to lament this sin, cry to God, embrace His forgiveness, and live in His ways for His glory.
Use the following questions to wrap-up your discussion.
- 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 3 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 2, psalm 7:11, Matthew 25:31-32, 34 & 41, Romans 3:23 & 6:23, Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 15, 25, 36, and 45, 2 Corinthians 5:21
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