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sad man August 23-24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Psalm 74, 79, 85, 102, 120, 137; Lamentations 1, 2, 3

Note: Because this is a two day study, it is suggested that the Bible reading be done on August 23 and the Bible study read on August 24.

Loss and Hope

Many Country and Western songs are written about painful circumstances and most often about loves that are lost. Many like the music style even if they do not know the lyrics. Others identify with the lyrics because of similar circumstances they are going through. The best songs composed are usually born from experience.

These six Psalms and the book of Lamentations in today’s Bible study are songs of national lament, possibly written by Jeremiah since he was present at the occasion of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. These were times of anguish and tears, despair and hopelessness. What happened to Jerusalem? The Psalmist, in his petition to God, said,

Your foes [the Babylonians] roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards [flags] as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling [of the temple] with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, ‘We will crush them completely!’ They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land, (Psalm 74:4-8, NIV).

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. We are objects of reproach to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us, (Psalm 79:1-4)

The armies of Babylon destroyed the nation of Judah. She experienced famine under the Babylonian siege; there was nothing for the people or animals to eat or drink. The people of Judah finally resulted to cannibalism. Women were even eating their own children. Finally, Jerusalem’s impregnable walls were battered down by the Babylonians and fell in pieces. King Zedekiah and his small army fled the city, but Zedekiah was captured as his army scattered. He was taken to Babylon in shackles, where his sons were killed before his very eyes. In the meantime, Jerusalem’s temple was pillaged, destroyed and burned. The king’s palace and all the important buildings were burned. Most of the Jews remaining in Jerusalem were either killed or taken into exile. The women were raped. The young men were tortured as they were strung up. The elderly were despised. Only a few of the poorest people, with no position or property, were allowed to stay in the land of Judah to care for it. Even the princes of the land were reduced to nothing, having to scrounge around for food. With any money the remnant could find the people had to buy water to drink and wood for cooking. There was no joy in Jerusalem. The survivors of Babylon’s attack wondered, what do we do now? Where is God? Doesn’t he care anymore? Will we be totally forgotten? Will we perish?

The glory of Israel was gone - its temple, its land and its people devastated and destroyed. The book of Lamentations demonstrates God’s faithfulness in fulfilling the covenant he had made 900 years earlier in the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:49-59). It was a covenant of blessing for obedience, and a covenant of cursing for disobedience. God was faithful to both parts of the covenant. This was the unhappy fulfillment, for it was a fulfillment of the curses for disobedience. However, even through the grief of those times there was hope because God would never forget his people. If you have gone through unhappy experiences because of your sin, it does not mean that God is unfaithful and that there is no hope. If you are a Christian, God will never forget you. There is always hope for those who repent and turn back to God. Unfortunately, even those who are innocent sometimes suffer for the sinful actions of others. Jeremiah suffered and so might some of us.

Imagine the reaction of the Jews in Babylon when they heard of their beloved city. They were not allowed to cry publicly because of their captors, but they groaned in their spirits and cried privately for their city and her people. They lost their relatives, their city, and their temple. Would they cease to exist as a nation? Would they ever return to their land? Return to what - to rubble and charred remains? Was there no hope? Yes, there was hope for the future. In seventy years, as impossible as it seems, they would return to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem and the city wall. In the future they will have an even better hope.

Psalm 102:16-21 expresses the psalmist’s hope:

For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: ‘The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.’ So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem.” (NIV)

Future deliverance will come!

The exiles were in distress. They lived in a foreign land, in a foreign culture as captives. Their bodies and souls wasted away, yet Jeremiah offered this hope to them in La 3:22-26, 33-40:

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.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD….

For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny a man his rights before the Most High, to deprive a man of justice-- would not the Lord see such things?

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. (NIV)

With the LORD there is mercy and restoration (more...).

Lessons to live by:

  • Sin must be punished because God is righteous and good.
  • Continual unrepentant sin can destroy us, leaving us weeping, wailing, and wasted.
  • The LORD is merciful and will restore those who truly repent (more...). We need to learn the lessons of our punishment and wait on his mercy. He does not despise a repentant heart; He heals and forgives, and he favors those who walk in the fear of the LORD.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Lamentations 3:31-33 “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” (NIV)

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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