Book of Lamentations
Jeremiah turns his deeper feelings about the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) into poetic form. Since we have been discussing the book of Jeremiah for many weeks, you can refer back to it to get more contextual background for this book.
Lamentations is written in the style of ancient Jewish funeral songs or chants. It contains five poems (or dirges) that correspond to the five chapters. The first four chapters are acrostic or alphabetical with each verse in each chapter beginning with a successive letter of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. Lamentations 3 is 66 verses because it is a triple acrostic with three verses corresponding for each letter. Other examples of acrostics are Psalm 37; 119, and 145, and Proverbs 31:1-31.
Each year, this book was read aloud to the Jews to remind them that their city fell because of their sinfulness.
This book teaches us that disobeying God can lead to disaster! It also shows us that even though God is angry at sin, He is also compassionate, loving, and faithful (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Jeremiah grieves deeply over the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem turned from God's protection to foreign alliances and their false gods, but none of that protected them from destruction.
Continuing in the funeral dirge, Jeremiah emphasizes God's anger at sin. The leadership of Zion led very poorly. The prophets were false and ineffective. The priests could no longer practice since the temple was destroyed. What a horrible state of affairs!
Jeremiah grieves over the famine of the children and the scoffing of the enemy. He calls the people to "pour out their hearts like water in the presence of the Lord" (Lamentation 2:19).
He also reminds them that this was the Lord's doing because of their sins.
Jeremiah and Jesus have something in common: they both wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).
Do you weep over the spiritual condition of your city? We do not have an obvious army, but we do have a real enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
I pray and "walk for the world" daily, but that also includes praying for the welfare of my city just as Jeremiah exhorted the exiles to do:
Seek the welfare of the city
where I have sent you into exile,
and pray to the Lord on its behalf;
for in its welfare
you will have welfare.
I love to go downtown during a busy Farmer's Market day and walk by and pray for the people hurrying here and there. I love to walk through my neighborhood and pray for each house. Take a walk through your city and pray for its welfare.
For the weeks leading up to Easter every year, I walk and pray through a great app called "Seek God for the City." The new one for the following year usually comes out in December. There is also a booklet if you do not have a smart phone.
We invite Your rule and reign in the cities in which we live. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.