Tuesday, 11 March 2014

LAMENTATIONS 3

LAMENTATIONS 3:1-66
The center of the book of Lamentations. We often work towards a climax the end of a piece, but very often in the OT the center is the high point, the heart of the message. So it is here. This chapter contains the best known verses in the book - 22-23.
Once again it is in the form of an acrostic - but this time in groups of three verses: aaa,bbb,ccc - for all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
v1-18: You Think You Have Problems!
What are you initial impressions of these verses? Do they remind you of any other passages of scripture?
Who it who says: "I am the man..."? Some think Jeremiah, or the King. We do not know for sure but we can say it was a male survivor, a believer. The first two Laments come with female voices - Lam 1 Jerusalem is 'She'. Lam 2 the focus is on the daughter of Zion, daughter of Judah, daughter of my people, daughter of Jerusalem v1, 2,4, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18.
Note how many times he says: 'He has'. Although the destruction was brought about by the Babylonians they are the secondary cause, it is the Lord who is the first cause of the affliction.
Here is a believer who says in v1 that he is under the rod of his wrath. How do you reconcile this with the believer been loved by God?
It is popular today to hear preachers say: "No matter how much you sin God loves you just the same." "God hates the sin and loves the sinner." We hear more today about 'grace' than we did 30 years ago. All these things are true but they are not the whole truth.
However, there is often a missing 'chord' that puts the preacher out of tune with the music of the message of the Bible. It is the chord sounded in Lamentations 3:1. We need a theology, an understanding of God that includes this. We need a full doctrine of the love of God.
(I am indebted for what follows to Mark Jones and his book 'Antinomianism' for the reminder of these truths.)
Briefly: [1] The intra-Trinitarian love of God. The love between the three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is an eternal love, and a natural love. There cannot but be love between the Father, Son and Spirit.
[2] The love God has for all he has made. This is not a necessary love. God does not have to love all his creation. It is a voluntary love. We can distinguish between: 
(1) God's universal love for all things. 
(2) God's love for all people - believers and unbelievers. 
(3) God's special love for his people.
God's love for his people be seen in three categories: 
(1) God's love of benevolence (big heartedness, giving out of generosity, kindness, grace,) seen in election and predestination. 
(2) God's love of beneficence (a gift that is not deserved or earned, but is generously and freely given). 
(3) God's love of delight or friendship in which he rewards his people for their holiness and obedience to his commandments - Hebrews 11:5-6; John 14:21; 16:26-27.
God loved our writer of Lamentations 3 with a love of benevolence and beneficence, but God did not delight in the sins of the City of Jerusalem and for a while his people were under his rod of wrath. This is the warning Jesus gave to some of the Churches in Rev 2-3:
Here we see that the Lord gets angry with believers - Rev 2:4-5; 14-16; Rev 3:1b-3; 15-19. The Lord disciplines those he loves. At times he hides his smile and we see and feel his displeasure, and disappointment, as the disciples did at times. (We shall not at this point take up the thought of grieving the Holy Spirit - Eph 4:30)
v19-33: How To Find Hope When Hope Has Perished.
v18 hope has perished.....v21 I have hope.
v22-24: He calls to mind God's love of benevolence and beneficence. Thomas Chisholm's testimony. What we can learn from sorrow.
v25-33: He sets about regaining God's love of delight and friendship. Pascal said: "All the miseries of mankind arise from his inability to sit still in his own room." Lloyd-Jones comments: "You have to be still, you must stop, you must be isolated, you must think. You cannot meet with the Lord in the midst of the noise and the bustle and the fury of life. Stillness is one of the great prerequisites."
v34-48: Evil In The World:
v34-36: Here is evil as God sees it. He sees every injustice.
v37-39: God's punishment is fair.
v40-42: He calls on the people to repent.
v43-45: Once again we see God's anger.
v46-48: All our enemies are against us.
v49-66: When The LORD Hides Himself Call to Him!
v49-51: He will weep until the Lord sees.
v52-54: The danger he faces - this fits with Jeremiah being imprisoned in a well.
v55-57: Persistent calling on the Lord
v58-60: God redeems him - enemies beware!
v61-63: God hears and sees all

v64-66: Romans 12:19 Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. 

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