This is an exposition of Lamentations 4:1-22. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 28, 2018.
Rheadon lives by a proverb. If you are in the hospital or a doctor’s office and someone says, “Take a deep breath” it means this is going to hurt! We’ve all had that debate, that moment of decision - “Do I pull the bandage slowly or yank it off?” I’m a yanker, I want to get it over with. All that to say as we work our way through Lamentations I feel the need to say, before every message, “Take a deep breath.”
I’m trying to move through as quickly as possible but there are some very valuable lessons in this book. I’ve avoided it for years. I had never preached from Lamentations before this series. It is difficult reading. As you read you keep thinking, “Same song next verse.” The weeping prophet goes over the same ground again and again. Why is that? It is a lament! It is a mourning song. What do you do when you are in mourning? What do you do when you are overwhelmed with grief? You are like a broken recorded. You go over it and over it. The book is filled with heart-wrenching images and yet there is the underlying theme of God’s goodness, His sovereignty and His faithfulness.
It is easy to forget at times that biblical truths are often a two-edged sword. The same truth can be both frightening and encouraging. It can be comforting and disturbing at the same time. The third chapter of the book is the central message. In the midst of great distress and heartache the prophet affirms the goodness and faithfulness of God. “The steadfast love (remember love is plural) of the Lord never ceases, his mercies (again plural) never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The believer’s great hope is the faithfulness of God. He can be trusted and relied upon because He is faithful. He will do as He said. Yet, that same faithfulness is the basis of a terrifying reality. When it comes to judgment, He is faithful. He will do as He said. Our text this evening is found in the 4th chapter of Lamentations.
Text: Lamentations 4:1-22
The 3rd lamentation ended with a cry of vengeance:
“You will repay them, O LORD,
according to the work of their hands.
You will give them dullness of heart;
your curse will be on them.
You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O LORD.
Yes, what has happened to Judah is the result of God’s judgment. The writer has made it clear that God is the central actor in this drama, Babylon is His instrument. That does not mean Babylon is guiltless in this. They are fully accountable for what they have done. They were not forced into this against their will - Babylon for their own selfish desires and purposes invaded Judah and brought this devastation but God allowed it for His purpose. The biblical writer rightly calls for God to move against Judah’s aggressor.
Now the focus switches back to Jerusalem and her misery.
[Read Text] - you might want to take a deep breath…
As we work our way through this mourning song I want you to note…
Thesis: The righteous respond to suffering by looking to the sobering, frightening and yet comforting truth of God’s faithfulness.
Lamentation is a work of Hebrew poetry as such the structure informs us that the focus of the book, its central message is in the 3rd chapter. Central or essential to surviving overwhelming sorrow and suffering is to cling to the truth of God’s faithfulness. This is what it means to live by faith and not by sight. This is what it means to live trusting God and not what you can see or accomplish. But this truth is a two-edged sword. That is made clear in this chapter.
There are three things I want to point out on our journey through this chapter.
- Because God is faithful to His holy character there are devastating consequences to turning a deaf ear to the pleas and warnings of His Word. (4:1-12)
- Because God is faithful to perform His word, believers ought to pray they are spared the curse of ungodly, and unfaithful leaders. (4:13-20)
- Because God is faithful to His divine purpose His sovereign grace assures the deliverance of His people and the destruction of His enemies. (4:21-22)
The next time sorrow and suffering overwhelm you remember, The righteous respond to suffering by looking to the sobering, frightening and yet comforting truth of God’s faithfulness.