Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 33


Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 33
Watching Now

I. Introduction

A. Name

B. Structure

II. Content

A. Chapter 1

B. Chapter 2

C. Chapter 3

D. Chapter 4

E. Chapter 5

III. The Gospel Promised Beforehand

  • Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt

Survey of the Old Testament



I. Introduction (00:13):

All right, welcome to our second lecture for the day. We're going to cover the book of Lamentations. Lamentations appears in the third division of the Hebrew Bible. We have law, the prophet’s writings, the writings deal with covenant life, how to think and live in covenant with God in the Old Testament, under the mosaic covenant in the new covenant. Well, in the New Testament, under the new covenant, slightly different, we are now in the second section of the writings. The first six books deal with life in the land. The last six books deal with life and exile, which makes perfect sense, given the content of these books. Lamentations is going to talk about, or describe the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the author experienced this fall and he's writing about it in five poems. All right, it's a gigantic funeral song.

A. Name (01:03):

We're going to have Esther and Daniel, two people who lived lives of faith in exile. So Lamentations is the kind of the exposition about the fall and how to live that way. Then Esther and Daniel are going to be examples of that. Then we're going to move into Ezra-Nehemiah Chronicles, which detail the return from exile and what that really looks like. Is the return from exile a true return, or they still in exile even though they're home? So the English name for this book, Lamentations derives from the content of the book. These are laments. They're a translation of the type of song. This is a funeral song or it's called a Kinah in Hebrew. It gets translated into Greek as lament or Lamentations. The Hebrew name, eicha is the first word in chapters one, two, and four.

So again, it's that whole tradition of whatever's first you just name the whole book after it. So in Hebrew, the name of the book is How! It is really a great way to start this thing, because it’s question is, “oh Lord, how could this be? How could you let this happen? How did we get here?” That's what the book gets at is how do we answer these questions in terms of authorship? This book of five poems is anonymous.  There's no like mention of any person who wrote it. There's no personal names in here. Tradition suggests that Jeremiah, the prophet was the author. You can see that from two things, one in our English Bibles, they have placed Lamentations right after Jeremiah to associate the two. Why would they have done that?

B. Structure (02:42):

Well, because in second Chronicles is 35:25, it says that when Josiah died that Jeremiah composed laments or kinahs and says, “and to this day, all the men and women singers, commemorate Josiah in the laments”, and these became a tradition in Israel and are written in the book of laments. So there was some kind of lament tradition. They kept a record, probably for Kings. Jeremiah wrote laments. He's the only one that we have actually in the Bible saying he wrote those laments for that. So it's possible. At least it's he could have written them. He had the skill to write them and maybe he did one day. I've got a lot of questions when I get to heaven. One is who wrote all these books? I really want to know why we don't know as much as I want to know who wrote them.

I want to know why Lord, did you not want us to know that? What was the purpose behind that? Just like Job asked about suffering, right? So the book of Lamentations is an amazing book in terms of its structure, right? It consists of five chapters or poems. The first four of which are acrostic poems. So in acrostic poem, you'll have successive lines beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew English alphabet. So in English, your first poetic line would begin with A, your second poetic line would begin with B, then C, etc. That's what I had over here. If you wanted to see it, if you can see on here, you can see the Hebrew alphabet. Maybe Terry can see it where each line begins with the other one, or you, we could do this. I could show you this even better.

Lamentation three is a triple acrostic. So what it is it's A, A, A, B, B, B, C, C, C, like that. It's a mega acrostic the only other acrostic bigger than this one in the Hebrew Bible, psalm 1-19. Let me show you a little bit about this. One of the most important things about lamentation is its structure, its structure is going to tell us something. Just like we see the structure of the Psalms tells us something. So chapter one consists of a perfect 22 verse acrostic poem. Each verse containing three poetic lines.

It’s perfect. So it runs through the whole alphabet that way. Chapter two consists of an almost perfect acrostic poem. Two of the letters are switched in Hebrew. The ion and the pay are switched, enormous ion pay, but then goes pay ion. It'd be like switching M and N in there for some reason. I don't know why it does that, to be honest. I know it happens a few times in the book of Psalms as well. Some people suggest that the order of the Hebrew alphabet was not set at this time. There were probably two orders. I could see that happening. What really is intriguing to me is that in the first one he uses what is now the traditional order and in the second and third, one second and fourth, one second, third and fourth one.

He uses that inverted one. So I keep trying to figure out and poke around why that might be. It's one of those mysteries that's after authorship. I'm going to ask that question. When I get to heaven, each verse consists of three little poetic lines. So a little cola, so tricola kind of thing. Now, chapter three is a big change. Chapter three is the central poem in the book. It contains a triple acrostic poem, 66 poetic lines with two colons each. So you can see that right there.

Chapter four is another acrostic poem with ion and pay switched. In chapters one and two, in these two chapters right here, each verse had three little lines to it like tricola. This one has a big mega one in chapter four, the across gets shorter. You get 22 verses, but there's only two little lines in each verse, not three.

Chapter five contains the final poem of the book. It's the shortest of the five. It does not appear in the form of acrostic. So look what you have here. You have amazing structure but a little off, it's a little shorter. Finally chaos, all hell is broken loose. There’s utter despair. That's I think part of what's going on there. Now, what is the point of all this structure? Here's what it does. This is a very interesting thing. It provides a literary stability to the book as a whole. This is completely unexpected since the message of the book is one of instability, disorder, chaos, suffering, destruction, sadness. The acrostic structure is the opposite. It is stable, fluid, and elegant.

II. Content (07:34):

One author, Barry Webb observes that this contrast between the theological message and the literary form when he says, “it is startling to discover that a book that portrays such radical disorientation should be one of the most ordered works in the Old Testament with all the chaos, shame and obliteration described within the book, a sense of order, control, and precision is sustained at a literary level”. So why? What's happening here is very interesting. The words are real. The descriptions are real and terrible, but it's also like holding you together by its form. Does that make sense? It's caring for you a little bit, right? It's saying yes, things are out of control, but God is in control. Even out of chaos. God can bring cosmos. Remember that's God's specialty, God's specialty is, when it hits the fan. He can fix it up.

A. Chapter One: Shame and Mourning (08:32):

He can take, tohu wa-bohu and make it very good Sabbath and thrown at rest. So the structure of the Psalm points to that way, the structure of the poems point that way. So let me just summarize some of these a little bit for you by each chapter. Each poem has kind of a theme to it. The theme to chapter one is the shame and the mourning of the city. It's not just the death of Jerusalem. That's horrific. It's the shame that comes with it. So in Lamentations 1-3 is my sample verse to show you that it says Judah has gone on into exile because of affliction and hard servitude. “She dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place.

B. Chapter Two: The Lord is the Primary Agents of Wrath (09:21):

Her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress”. So it's about the shame of the exile, the mourning for the city, and the terror of what's gone on. So in chapter one, it is pouring your heart out that someone or something has died, right? You're emptying yourself in that particular reality. I don't know if chapter two is meant to despair the person more or to bring encouragement. I couldn't figure it out, but it, says this, “the Lord is the primary agents of wrath”. Now there are a lot of different things we can think about for that, but let me read my sample verse. Then we'll talk about a couple of issues there. Lamentations 2:17 says this, “the Lord has done what He purposed.

He has carried out His word, which He commanded long ago”, Deuteronomy 29-31. “He has also thrown down without pity. He has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes”. So it's important to understand that the calamity of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile comes from the Lord. It is not the result of the Lord's inability to save or protect His people. It's not that the other gods were stronger. It's not that the other army was stronger and the Lord just couldn't muster enough strength to do it. We know that from things like the battle of Gideon in the book of judges that Lord could have done it with 300 men wiped out all the Babylonian army, if He wanted to, but it stems from His just judgment and faithfulness. Remember what it says here, which He commanded long ago. Long ago, the Lord commanded about a thousand years ago, that if you get into that land, you disobey me.

I'm going to send you into exile. He’s being faithful to His covenant word. You could say that Jerusalem's destruction and exile was an act of covenant faithfulness on behalf of the Lord, just like the destruction and death of Jesus was an act of covenant faithfulness on behalf of the Lord or, and mercy unto us, right? It was not any accident. Satan did not win somehow or trick us. The Lord is doing this. It's a very important theology. So I don't know at that point, if it was to comfort the mourner or, but it really does answer the question of God's sovereignty. If they're saying, is God not sovereign? Is He not in control? The answer is, He is sovereign. He is in control. Not just that, but He works according to His plan and promise. Not so, and He tells us what He is going to do, then He does it and interprets it.

C. Chapter 3: Lament of the Afflicted Man and His Community (11:58):

So we don't even have to guess about it. In terms of these redemptive historical schemes. So the shame of the city in chapter one, right? The Lord is the primary agent of inflicting that shame and destruction. Then finally, number, chapter three, the lament of the afflicted man and his community. This is a great poem. Frequently. I was asked a question the other day, what is my favorite book of the Bible? I said, I don't know, but when I'm down, I go to revelation 21 and 22 and read that because it comforts me. Lamentation three is another one like that for me, when I, when I am in despair, and I don't know why I go to this particular text and it is, it's the lament of the afflicted man and its communities.

So it actually shifts in limitations one and two, four and five. The city is the woman. It's about her. But here there's an afflicted man. It's a treatment. It's a different shift. This third poem changes the persona of the poem from a female voice from, in Lamentations one and two to a man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath. That's chapter three, verse one, the man's perspective is in verses one to 39 and 48 to 66 while sandwiched right in the middle of that, there's the community of friction in 40 to 47, the suffering of the man is strikingly brutal. The description of the man also makes many illusions. I love this to biblical Job, which gives the sense that he specifically represents the righteous remnant who are exiled due to their membership within the covenant community.

Israel is being thrown into exile because of its national kind of transgression of the covenant. But at the same time, there is a remnant. There are the elect, the people who have circumcised hearts and who fear the Lord, but they are swept up in the community's destruction. They're swept up in the communities. Chapter three laments as that righteous remnant swept up in the destruction. So we live in this fallen world. We experience its brokenness, even though we are members of God's family. It just doesn't seem fair. Well, it's not fair because we should be gone already. What's fair is coming. There's no fairness in life. The beauty of grace is that life is not fair. It's a tough thing to deal with.

But I have this, I have this overhead here from Peter Lee. There are in Lamentations three, at least 13 corresponding features between the afflicted man in Lamentations three and the afflictions of Job in his book. So they're both called [inaudible 00:14:45], which is a very special Hebrew word, not just the word for man. It's not even the word for male. It's frequently used like, like warrior or manly guy or something like that. They both fall onto crooked paths. They're both devoured by animals. They're both targeted by God's arrows. They're both mocked. They're both become full of bitterness. They both share the conclusion that it is good to bare chest attachment from God. They both sit in silence. They both sit with their face in the dust. There is healing in the future. God will not pervert justice, both good and bad come from God and blocked access to God.

So you can see kind of the negative things at the front. The positive things at the back is how it works. So this amazing correspondence to see that. So the important thing is, I think there are theologically. There's several important things to take from this number one is this, that even the righteous get caught up in the destruction of this world at times, but God has a way out for them. He knows. In first Peter and Jude, those guys allude to Noah and his family and lot, and his family and say, God is able to save you from destruction, right? If God can save Noah in a worldwide cataclysm, and if God can save lot in his family from wiping out this whole kind of city plain, right? Then he can save us right from this present evil world. So that's point of encouragement, that's what Lamentations three is doing. I can use it to endure this world.

Key verse for this one that you can cling onto is Lamentations 3:21-25 where it says, “but this I call to mind. And therefore I have hope, the steadfast love of the Lord never cease his mercy's never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul. Therefore I will hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for them, to the soul who seeks Him”. So this is the Lord's instruction for those who are suffering in the judgment of this world, living as aliens and strangers. Now I want to show you something back here a little bit. When we get to verse 22, verse 22 is a very famous verse. It's actually been enshrined in a song. So it's hard to get around. It's hard to kind of get back to what it means.

The translation, “the steadfast love of the Lord, never ceases” is slightly off. It's a difficult text, but it's been, clearly explained in many places and we should take it like this. It's been retranslated like this. “The steadfast love of the Lord is that we have not come to an end. His compassion has not vanished”, which means it's the remnant principle. The remnant principle, “the steadfast love of the Lord is that we have not come to an end. His compassion has not vanished”. So how do you know that Lord has hesen? How do you know it endures forever? There's a remnant. We're part of that remnant. The life of exile then is a life of waiting and hoping for God to make all things right. While at the same time, recognizing that they're not going to be right this side of eternity. It is a life of seeking His faithfulness and steadfast love as aliens and strangers in the world. So we live like Abraham wandering in the wilderness of this world, waiting and hoping seeking His faithfulness and steadfast love.

We are not here to have our best life. Now think of any, anyone at this point, think of someone like with all the resources like Elon Musk or Bill Gates, if that's the best life you can have now, I'm not interested. I want way more than that, right? Aren't you hungry for it? In fact, the fact that you're so unsatisfied with this world is evidence that you're made for a different world, or the fact that you have an appetite that can't be sustained in this world. The fact that you have desires, that can't be fulfilled in this world. The fact that you experience loss, that that hurt you in this world means you are built for another place. It's evidence that God has, that God has created a different world for you, and He is going to bring you to it.

D. Chapter 4: The Besieged City (19:08):

The life of exile is a life of waiting and hoping for God to make all things right in his life of seeking his faithfulness and steadfast love as aliens and strangers in the world. That's what the book of Lamentations is telling of us in the midst of suffering, in the midst of destruction, in the midst of catastrophe. Lamentation chapter four is the besieged city. We're back to the gruesome gloom and doom of the besieged city. So lamentations four. Now, when I say a besieged city, I guess I should talk about that in the ancient world, when you were going to conquer a place, not always did two armies go out and meet and battle. It's not the civil war where all the men march out to a field, aim guns at each other and just pull triggers.

The last man standing wins, which is beyond me in terms of how anyone fights that way. But when you're trying to conquer a land, your army would go to the city you wanted and you would build siege ramps. You'd try to get, or try to knock down their walls and get over it, so get in. If you couldn't get in, then you do the Trojan horse thing. Like you wanted to breach the walls. So you had access to the city. Chapter four talks about the horrors of being besieged. If you're besieged in a city, a walled city, you can't get out. How the cities worked back then is you had walled city, and then villages all around it. They’re called daughter towns.

Those daughter towns were the ones that did all of your agriculture. There were the vineyards in the fields and they were brought in the produce. If there's ever terror, I want to flee to the city. Well, if there's terror and everyone flees to the city and you're there for three years, guess what? You're not growing food. You're not getting more water. So it’s terrible conditions. That's what lamentation chapter four describes the terrors of the cutoff city. So it'd be like an embargo. We would say today, because you embar, wall things off. Listen to Lamentations 4:10 is very hard to hear “with their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children who became their food when my people were destroyed”. That is a terrible thing to even think about. But that's the state of affairs, compassionate women broke down under that and did something terrible.

E. Chapter Five: Communal Lament (21:30):

It's one of the things about the Bible, right? A lot of it you couldn't put on TV or in the movies. It would just be inappropriate. Some of the worst people in the world would not want to see that kind of stuff. But that's the conditions that have been provoked by Israel's sin. It's tragic. Chapter five is the final communal lament. The inhabitants of the city, the men, the women, and the children are all mentioned as experiencing physical suffering from the enemies. They are sick and emotionally exhausted. Yet, the poem ends with a glimmer of hope as the people acknowledge their past faithlessness to the Lord and the forsaken of the covenant, they're exhausted. They're broken down, they're ill, they haven't eaten and they haven't had good food.

They're probably, that kind of thing when you have sores on your body, your hair starts to fall out, all kinds of terrible things. What's interesting is peppered throughout chapter five, are glimmers of hope in the midst of acknowledging their sin. So I'm going to read some verses here as it goes back and forth between confession, terrors, confession, terrors, hope, terrors. So I've removed all the terror stuff right there. Since we just read that last verse, and I'm just going to show you in verse one, it says, "Remember, oh Lord, what has happened to us? Look and seek and see our disgrace. So take note of us", right? It's almost like the, in a lament Psalm where you have the appeal. The appeal for rescue. Then it says in verse seven, "Our fathers have sinned and are no more.

and we bear their punishment", recognizing its they, this is right, what's happening to them. It laments, "The crown has fallen from our head woe unto us, for if we have sin", see confession? "You, oh Lord reign forever. You're thrown endure from generation to generation". So you see, this is great. The davidic line has fallen. The city is sacked. It's like when Isaiah was, talks about all that his, that King died in the year, that in the year that king died, he looked up and he saw the true king in the year that the Davidic monarchy died. They're confessing you, Lord reigned forever. Your throne endures from generation to generation. Then the plea “restore us to yourself, a Lord let me return, renew our days of old”. God is willing to hear how bad it is from you. He is willing to hear your complaints. He is willing to hear how much you think it's terrible, right? In the midst of that, you can also be reassured that He knows, He understands, He wants you to cry out to Him, and that He wants to restore you either in this world or in the one to come.

IV. The Gospel Promised Beforehand (24:20):

So the message of Lamentations is a tremendous message. It's a message of God's just punishment, His faithfulness to the covenant, the suffering that causes people for disobedience. We know that eventually He'll solve that problem, but in the midst of it, now we still labor under it. So here's the unspoken message of Lamentations to remind us that there is coming a glorified city of God that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. When he says back here, right in 5:21, "restore us, oh Lord, that we may return renew our days of old". He's not just going to renew our days of old. That's a meager request. He's going to supersize the days of old, but when right? The state of the true return from exile will outstrip the previous one. “The earthly Jerusalem, although magnificent in her architecture and extravagant in her wealth was frail and limited due to its fallen nature”.

As the writer, the book of Hebrews states we have no lasting city here. “We have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:14. The book of Lamentations has a limited application. This is interesting. It can only be used in a fallen world that mourns, the devastation brought on by sin. So we'll never use this book. Once we get to heaven, there will be no such need in the new Jerusalem of the new covenant for in the eschatological city. He will have already what wiped away, every tear from their eyes and death will be no more. Neither shall there be mourning nor crying, nor pain anymore.

Revelation 21:4. You see, it's interesting in these Old Testament, survey or summary classes that we always, are always coming back to Hebrews, the book of Hebrews and the book of revelation, because they describe in magnificent ways what we're waiting for. All of the freight of the Old Testament is just on this train, hurling down to the consummation. When we see that, we can say, like Paul said that these things are written for our encouragement, for us, that we might endure and have hope. In the midst of Lamentations, we can confess that we are suffering, but we can also endure and have hope because we know where the train is going to stop. So that's the message of Lamentations, any questions about that great book?

V. Questions (26:38):

So sometimes you see events like that, where there's judgment that are taking place. Some people say, well, we look at the Old Testament, we see an egomaniac, capricious God, that's exhibiting all these things. Why do we want to worship a God like that?

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

You mentioned a couple of times how God says what He's going to do and it isn't covenant. Then He does it. Then He explains why. So how do those things fit? How do we see the God of the Old Testament as being somebody that we want to worship?

That's a great question. I'm going to read. I'm going to do something strange and use the Bible to answer this question. That is really the question of Moses on Sinai after the golden calf episode. So the question is like, how can God be both loving, merciful, but we see in the Old Testament, so much wrath, gloom and doom, bad things. So here's the beginning of the answer. One, all of that bad stuff that's happening is because of our sin. God's righteous judgment is on that sin. Most of most of the time when we're talking about that, God graciously entered into a covenant with His people, that covenant had blessings and curses, and it blessings for obedience to that covenant, curses for disobedience, it was a covenant from half way to God who said, I will be with you.

I want to be with you. I'm condescending to attach myself to you, covenantally like a husband does to a wife to take care of you and to protect you. But that wife is constantly faithless and going after the idols and hoeing after other things. And so we see in the old testament, those acts of judgment against sin, like the flood, like Solomon Gomorrah, like Israel exterminating, they can at nights, that those things were common. Grace has suspended for a while. Those are pictures of the end to provoke us to fear and to repent. Does that make sense? But it's also the same God who created this world, didn't enter into immediate judgment, who loves his people who stayed in their midst even invented or invented, oh, he invented, or he created a whole sacrificial system, so that unclean people could be come and beat in his midst that fellowship with him.

But even that didn't work for them. At the golden calf episode, when God wanted to wipe everyone out and just start again with Moses. Moses appealed to the Abraham at covenant, and then God preached a sermon on his name. The question is, how can God dwell in the midst of this people? And it says here, "when God came, passed on the rock show glory hid Moses in the rock covered him over. And he said, he preached this thing on his, the sermon on his name and says “he passed before him and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh, a God”, listen to this, listen to these characteristics, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abandoning set, abounding and steadfast love and faithless faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”, which is right.

What he's doing right there. He's telling you, how can I be in your midst because I'm this guy. But then he says, “but who by no means clearly the guilty visiting the inequity of the fathers on the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation and Moses bow his head to the earth and worshiped.” So the answer is that God is that God is both merciful and just, and loving and compassionate, but He also is a God who is full of justice and can't tolerate sin. He has to figure out a way to work with that. In the Old Testament it's the sacrificial system. In the New Testament, Jesus becomes the ultimate sacrifice. So the thing that we have to realize is that you can't imagine one of the darkest and worst things that ever happened in history is the crucifixion.

When the father sent the son to the cross, if we were to think of Abraham would've plunged down the knife on Isaac, that would've been one of the most horrific moments in history, but God stayed it because he is a God slow, anger and abandoning stiffest love. He'd rather take on the knife Himself than have Abraham to do to his son, which is what He does in the New Testament. We have Jesus, the man of peace coming as a sacrificial lamb of God. But if you look in the book of revelation, when he comes back, he is no longer meek and mild, right? He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, with a sword is coming out of His mouth. All of His armies behind him. He is going to wipe out not only all of this visible realm in those who don't believe, but all the atrocities of the invisible realm as well.

In some sense, you could say anything that we see in the Old Testament that seems difficult or dark or heavy in terms of judgment is not even the tip of the iceberg for what's coming. It does two things. It provokes us to be warned, but also we can rejoice that we've been spared from that because all the bad stuff has been poured out on Christ. Those in union with Christ pass through the judgment, but they have to go through the judgment. So, but there's [inaudible 00:31:57]. That's why this works right here is that there's both mercy and judgment. Those who are in Christ pass through the judgment, but they're still the judgment. It's never an escape completely.

You have to experience the judgment. So you're right. There is some of that, a lot of that in the Old Testament, and most of it is provoked by Israel, sin and humanity, sin at the flood. It's amazing how patient God is right in Genesis chapter two, God says “on the day on which you eat of it, you will surely die”. So you've got kind of that spiritual death thing going on. He's just, but he's waiting for us. He's waiting for us. In fact, the reason it's been so long is because He hasn't gotten all of us yet, which is another act of His mercy and compassion. He's still waiting for some son or grandson or daughter or granddaughter great-granddaughter to, and who's coming from us. Who's going to be in that lamp's book of life. He hasn't gotten everyone in lamp's book of life out yet. So He's waiting. So maybe that helps answer that question. You're right. There's violence in the Old Testament. It's always precipitated by our sin and there's going to be more violence in the New Testament at the end. But until that time, we're back in that common grace period where the righteous and the wicked live together. So you love your neighbor and you pray for your enemy.