It is the year 587 B.C. Jerusalem lies in ruins. Blood stains the streets. Thousands of God’s people have been dragged off into exile. God’s holy temple is robbed. And the book of Lamentations is penned by the prophet Jeremiah.
People are not normally familiar with the contents of Lamentations. Maybe it’s because it’s an Old Testament book; maybe it’s because it can be difficult to relate to; or maybe it’s because it’s hard to make sense of if you don’t understand the bigger picture. Irrespective of the cause, the point is that Lamentations is an often neglected gold mine.
For this reason, this article hopes to introduce you to at least five of the great treasures that can be unearthed from the pages of Lamentations.
1. Sin is really bad… at least God thinks so.
All humans suffer with a terrible inclination to underestimate their sin. Lamentations offers us a reality check. It reminds us that sin is horrific beyond comprehension, and that the Holy God of creation is utterly repulsed by it.
Let Lamentations teach you to be wary of having petty thoughts about your sin.
2. The result of sin is always shocking… regardless of whether you’re a christian or an unbeliever.
As an act of judgment, God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed. The sight of that desolation would have been shocking to behold, but it is that very shock factor that reminds us of how grave sin’s consequences are.
Similarly, the unrepentant will one day stare down into the bottomless, fiery combustion hole that is hell and reel at the appalling penalty of sin, and the Christian who looks to the cross finds themselves overwhelmed at the picture of God’s own Son slaughtered as a lamb.
Jerusalem destroyed; the screams of hell; the agony of Jesus on the cross, it’s all a reminder of sin’s terrible cost.
Let Lamentations teach you to be wary of having small thoughts about the consequences of sin.
3. We can and should mourn both realities
We are permitted to mourn the holy justice of God poured out upon sinners. In fact, when the heart of a man is in tune with God, it will find itself mournful over such instances.
Let Lamentations teach you to be broken at the site of punished sin – be it in hell or at the cross.
4. Death is sad, and lamenting can be holy.
Sadness over death is not necessarily a result of weak faith, or immature thinking. Death is sad. The lamenting of Jeremiah was not in vain.
The life of Jesus speaks to this as well. Did he not mourn over the death of Lazarus, even though he knew Lazarus would soon live again?
Let Lamentations teach you to think rightly about death.
5. God’s judgment is swift, thorough, exhaustive and unfathomable in it’s extent… But his mercies are new every morning.
Our sin is horrific but God is merciful, and so there is no reason why any human being should have to suffer under the vengeance of a Holy God.
God lovingly sent Christ his Son, to take our punishment at the cross, and now, if we would trust in him, the penalty of our sin would be completely removed.
Let Lamentations urge you to trust in Jesus Christ for yourself. Your soul does not have to endure the lament of hell.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
If you want to learn more about the book of Lamentations or hear the above points being further explained, please see the clip below for a recent sermon by Pastor Craig Ireland.