Bible Experiment Lamentations

This series is something I started a year or two ago now, and I continue to struggle, and grapple with… and will continue to struggle and grapple with it until I’ve finally made it completely through the entire Bible. Even when I am not physically writing one, I am reading and thinking about the next one. But the further in I go, the more and more my eyes are open to the amazing truths that are to be found. For those of you stumbling on to this series here, for the first time, in this series, I am reading every book of of the Bible, and writing a thousand words about each book. This idea was not mine, it was first an atheist’s idea – and I am just following in his footsteps.

I personally cannot imagine reading this book and not have any sort of concept for what it is all about. To not understand that the Bible is the single greatest love stories our world has ever known… is to miss the point… Of all of it. To see the miracles, and the ‘stories’ told in Sunday schools everywhere, and not understand how they are there to signal us to the one that is in love with us, is completely missing the point. To see the arcane laws, the list of names, the minutiae, and to not see that this is all about His protection and blessings, is completely and totally not getting it entirely. To see the death, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth, and to not understand why exactly it is there, is to miss the point completely.

I am going to start our discussion of Lamentations by leaping forward to the back of the entire book, and read from 1 John 2… “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

And my point here is only to clearly indicate, that the whole of the Bible is here to tell one story. Many people look at the Old Testament (or simply the Testament if you are a Jew) and see it as a separate story. But it isn’t. The story is singular from beginning to end. Singular. And the story is 100% about the creator’s love for you. That’s it. That’s what it’s all about. His love for you. The darkness is passing away… the darkness is passing away… and the true light, the really real true Light, is already shining. And boy do we need a dose of true Light in this book. because although it’s only 5 chapters, this sucker drops in super dense. It’s like the difference between steak and liver. Both are foods… of a sort… one is WAY more dense than the other.

Lamentations Overview
The book is 100% about the lamentations of one person, the author, and that was most likely Jeremiah. Jeremiah had just written all about what would happen (as did Isaiah a little while earlier) if Israel didn’t repent and cling to what really matters. And then, when it did happen, it is Jeremiah wandering amongst the desolated city streets and weeping for their once inhabiting people. Nebuchadnezzar had just walked into Jerusalem and cleaned house. And so the book of Lamentations is our prophet Jeremiah, sitting on a hillside, staring down at the city, mourning the loss of God’s people.

But if you want a pro-tip when it comes to the book of Lamentations, it isn’t just about the thing that it’s about. It’s about more than that. 722 years before the coming of the Christ, Lamentations is an echo of what Christ would eventually say to the people of Israel.

“O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”

Right here, in this quote, this is Christ, looking down over all of Jerusalem, and he is crying out to His people, lamenting, that Israel would not come under God’s watchful and caring wings.

Egypt. Babylon. Assyria. Germany. All have one thing in common, the nation state of Israel should not have survived. I just spent the past few hours, flipping back through the historical pages regarding the nation state of Israel. And after recounting how Israel came back to power, it really is enough to give a non-believer pause. Tell me of a single state that dissolved… and then spontaneously came back to being. It just doesn’t happen.

Lamentations Literal View
The romper room view of Lamentations – the simple view – is just the literal view. Jeremiah was weeping and mourning for the people that chose not to repent. He mourned for the fact that people died. He mourned for the fact that they’d walked away from their first love. But most of the gnashing of teeth, most of the mourning in this literal vantage, really just aligns along this one simple perspective which was proclaimed by Jeremiah in chapter one verse one:

She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.

And throughout the rest of the book, the whole of the book talks in detail about just how the Jews wiped out so catastrophically.

Lamentations A Deeper Read
I mentioned earlier that Lamentations not only was about Israel, but was also mirroring the future mourning of the coming Christ which was over 700/750 years later. So if it is also about the coming Christ, where is this dual mirroring found throughout these five short chapters?

L.1:1 – “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become”

How like a widow she has become… this is referencing Jesus’ weeping over the city leading into the Passion week.

L.1:12 – “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow…”

Here we have an echo of Christ’s hanging on the cross – and the mourning that would occur as a result.

L.2:15 – “All who pass along the way, clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem”

This is referring to how the people mocked the man who carried his cross beam through the city. It’s referring to the crowds and their laughter as the Son of God hung on the cross. This is referring to the spitting, yelling, screaming masses that wanted Christ on the cross as opposed to Barabbas.

L.3:14-15 – “I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the burden of their songs all day long. He filled me with bitterness, he has sated me with wormwood.”

Christ again. He was the stone that the builders rejected. And yet, he was the cornerstone.

L.3:30 – Let him give his cheek to the smiter…

Christ was beaten for us. His beard was plucked out. And he chose not to speak back to His afflicters.

The True Take Aways From The Lament
Lamentations really has nothing to do with the people of Israel being taken away into captivity. It has nothing to do with the mourning involved with their slavery, and their lack of freedom. Zero. (BUT YOU SAID THAT WAS WHAT IT WAS ABOUT!!??!) Well, sort of. It’s obviously, factually, about the Israelites being broken and carted off to Babylon. But that isn’t what it’s about.

It’s about God, mourning for his love, who has wandered away. Lamentations is all about God, mourning for you, his love… you who have wandered away from Him. Lamentations can be seen historically (myopically I would argue) and seen simply as a book to tell all about this one specific moment. Or, more accurately, it can be seen as a lamentation for Christ’s death… but even more importantly seen as a result of his mourning our prideful living and our willingness to go our own way.

And with this view in mind… this is our verse. This verse is not about Israel, and Jeremiah, it’s God talking directly to you.

Lamentations 3:21-
“Remember my affliction and my wandering,
the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.”

I recall the fact that I am desolate without Him. I remember just how awful it is, to attempt to go it alone. And it’s because of this memory, that I have hope. It is because of His loving kindness that I am exultant. It is because of this love story that He has extended to me, it is because of his compassion, that is new every morning, that I am alive. God is my everything. He is my only hope. He is my only love. I will wait for Him. I will wait for Him. I will seek for Him. And I will hope in Him alone.