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Lamentations Overview

The Prophet Jeremiah was an eyewitness to Judah’s continued rebellion, refusal to turn back to God and unrepentant idolatry. God sent prophets to WARN Judah (just as he did with Israel) that they would be destroyed if they did not TURN BACK to HIM. In ALL God is, KNOW He is patient, kind, loving and truly wants the best for us. Just as HE gave Judah and Israel MANY opportunities to TURN BACK to HIM AND WARNED them for YEARS of what would happen if they did not TURN BACK to HIM. However a time would come when HE will do what HE says HE will do. We are witnessing in what we read in Jeremiah and we can see how we are being warned today as our own nation and world turns from HIM towards other gods and idols.

Although Judah had a few kings that were good and followed the ways of The Lord, causing the nation to do the same, most of their kings were evil and refused to follow God. As time progressed, the country progressively deteriorated and refused to listen to any of God’s prophets …. especially Jeremiah. Therefore, God used the Babylonians to besiege, plunder, burn, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for approximately 400 years, was burned to the ground. (SO SAD!!)

Although the Book of Lamentations does not explicitly identify Jeremiah as the author he is believed to be the writer. Tradition holds to the belief that the Prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. This view is highly likely considering he was a witness of the Babylonians destroying Jerusalem. Jeremiah fits this qualification (2 Chronicles 35:25; 36:21-22).

The Book of Lamentations is a lament, wailing, or weeping for what occurred to Judah and Jerusalem. The word Lamentations is Ekha in Hebrew and means wailing and weeping. The Book was likely written between 586-575 B.C., during or soon after Jerusalem’s fall.

The book of Lamentations follows the Book of Jeremiah and is the book that gave Jeremiah the name of the “weeping prophet.” The last chapters of Jeremiah can be seen as the introduction to Lamentations. There are 5 poems in this book, each begins at a new chapter. Judah is personified as a woman in this book, but it is important to remember WHY all this is happening to her. An AVOIDABLE tragedy, all caused by sin and lack of repenting. Always read the Bible from God’s character, His Covenant and His Love. God is Holy, God is Just, God is Perfect, and God punishes sin and disobedience in His timing.

The Hebrew Old Testament puts Lamentations with a group of books called the Ketubin or “writings”. The group includes Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Lamentations. They are in their own category (our Bible is grouped by category too, that is why we are jumping around a lot) because these books are read at separate Feasts. To this day, this book is read in Synagogues throughout the world on the ninth day of the fourth month, a day of fasting, to remember the fall of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s grief ran deep in his heart for God’s people. Jeremiah wept for the Jews not just because of the suffering and the exile they would endure, but because they had rejected the word of the Lord. This saddened Jeremiah to a level of tears and sympathy.

A key verse in Lamentations and one of my favorites is 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Jeremiah’s deep and abiding passion for his people and their city is the SAME sorrow over the sins of the people and their rejection of God that Jesus expressed as He approached Jerusalem and looked ahead to her destruction at the hands of the Romans (Luke 19:41-44.) Jeremiah saw Jerusalem’s destruction. Because of the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah, God used the Roman siege to punish HIS people the same way that HE used the Babylonians in Jeremiah’s day. It is important to know that God takes NO joy in having to punish HIS children. His heart’s desire is that we ALL come to know Jesus Christ. God is a God of hope which is why HE sent HIS son….so that we ALL may live the abundant life today in this life and spend eternity with HIM in the next. One day because of Christ, God will wipe away ALL tears (Revelations 7:17.) No matter how far we have gone from HIM, we have the HOPE that we can return to HIM and find our compassionate, forgiving, loving God.

So as we begin reading the book of Lamentations tomorrow….look for God’s character. Look for the Scriptures of hope even in all the destruction!

Sharing HIS love,