Week 45 – Book of Jeremiah
Read: Jeremiah Chapter 45
The Old Testament book, sometimes referred to as Lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet, consists of melancholy and mournful poetic recollections of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. “Tradition holds that the prophet Jeremiah was the author of Lamentations.” Some more contemporary scholars raise doubts about his authorship, although many agree “it is apparently written by an eyewitness to Jerusalem’s destruction” in 587-586 BC. Descriptive language in Lamentations 3:1 and Lamentations chapter 4 strongly suggests this. Lamentations is read in synagogues each year “on the ninth day of the month Ab” (the fifth Hebrew month), to commemorate “the destruction of the first and second temples.”
Perhaps one of the most important contributions of Lamentations is “the Hebrew people believed. God would never allow pagans to capture the holy city or to enter the Most Holy Place.” Their infidelity to God opens this door of weeping and permits the world’s wickedness to enter. God’s sovereign judgment allows this. Lamentations, also, expresses the anguish of the people, reveals the consequences of their disobedience.
These five chapters include themes of mourning for Jerusalem, God’s righteous judgment of Judah, the hope that rises in the suffering, and prayer for restoration. In the Bible, Lamentations falls between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. “In the Old Testament” it is frequently common for “cities to be portrayed as a woman.” Using the phrase “Daughter of Zion” personifies Jerusalem and appears seven times in the book. The writer’s raw emotion, pure anger and disappointment, both rages and rests in the presence of God, both shouts and whispers directly to God.
One of the most familiar passages in Lamentations is 3:22-23, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” The writer gives testimony to whom he believes God to be, to the hope trusting God brings. “Lamentations is a confronting book, showing us the seriousness of rebellion against God.” The language, honest and radical, exposes sin and consequence. Hope is reborn in grief and restored in love. God’s mercies are unfathomable and ever new.
Most scholars think the recorded event of Jeremiah Chapter 45 dates, “about 605 BC, before the fall of Jerusalem, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, King of Judah.” The timeline is about four years after the first group from Judah is exiled to Babylon, which happens in 609 BC. Remembering that this book is not in chronological order, this event fits between Jeremiah 36:8 and 36:9. Chapter 45 is the last in a series of chapters that describe God’s judgment of Judah.
Following God’s instructions, Jeremiah’s scribe records the message to Judah on a scroll. Here, Baruch’s lamentations moan“woe is me” and “I am worn out.” (v3) Recognizing all that had been built, God is now going to tear it down, all that has been planted will be uprooted. Reality of the coming destruction weighs on him. God promises Baruch that despite all the disaster, He will protect him.
“That the names of [Baruch’s] father Neriah and his grandfather Mahseiah (32:12) are given may indicate that he comes from an educated family of the upper class.” Not only does Baruch record the words of Yahweh, but he also must read them out loud (36:4-8). All this reinforces the profoundness of the truth, deepness of the despair.
God responds in 46:5, “But are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” Despite the destruction and disaster to come, God says He will protect Baruch. Keeping the focus on God, keeping the hope in God matters more than the disappointment that limited vision offers. Centuries later, Jesus teaches this lesson of sacrifice in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Christ’s crucifixion magnifies the word sacrifice; Christ’s death and resurrection personifies the “ransom for many.”
. . . by the mercies of God: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message
The Scripture above is more familiar in the translations that use phrases like living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of your mind, but The Message gives us examples of how we are to be these phrases. Becoming too much like the world is a constant danger for us. The power of the world entertains our imaginations, teases our thoughts, heightens our emotions. Darkness will always lure us down to its level of immaturity. So, how are we to be transformed? We must keep our focus on God, whose compassions “are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23)
Eternal Hope ~
I confess that darkness entices me, and each time, I rediscover its illusions of better and happier and wishful. Deceptively, the world veils the truth like a magician, distracting me with a maze of limited results. This is not hope!
The Word tells me to passionately wait and quietly hope in God. I am to bring the things of my ordinary life and to offer them to the Holy Father. Lovingly and creatively chosen for me, God’s purposes are always best. I wait for Hope!
Transform me! Make me more like You; change me from the inside out.
Renew me! Find me where I am; pour out Your mercies everyday.
Teach me! Give me life lessons that grow faith; develop perseverance.
Refine me! Take my joys and my burdens; melt me into Your will.
Create me new everyday with Your unlimited possibilities!
You are Living Hope! Amen.
Lamentations 3:24-30 The Message
Blackaby reminds, “Our chief aim ought to be the accomplishment of God’s will, not the achievement of our plans.”
How often do my ambitions conflict with God’s hope for me? Where do I find contentment?
God is patient with me because He wants me to experience spiritual transformation. Identify some ways God has/is transforming you spiritually.
 Harper’s Bible Dictionary Lamentations
 Blackaby Study Bible Intro to Lamentations
 Archaeological Study Bible Lamentations
 Archaeological Study Bible
 Gospel Transformation Study Bible Intro to Lamentations
 Walking the Ancient Paths Kaiser, Walter C, p 485
 Ibid, p 486