August 7, 2021
"Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities. Servants rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand."
“Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities. Servants rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand. We get our bread at the risk of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness. Our skin is hot as an oven, because of the fever of famine. They ravished the women in Zion, the maidens in the cities of Judah. Princes were hung up by their hands, and elders were not respected. Young men ground at the millstones; boys staggered under loads of wood. The elders have ceased gathering at the gate, and the young men from their music. The joy of our heart has ceased; our dance has turned into mourning. The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! Because of this our heart is faint; because of these things our eyes grow dim; because of Mount Zion which is desolate, with foxes walking about on it.” Lamentations 5:7-18
The Biblical book we know as “Lamentations” is not titled as such in the Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, it’s called “Eicha” which means “How?” This title makes more sense than Lamentations because to simply judge Jeremiah’s book as a lamentation sells short God’s intended message of hope to the dispersed Jews, staggering in chains as they are being carried off into captivity. This is not a time to simply be emotional. It is time for God’s “Chosen” to seriously contemplate their circumstances and learn! The Jewish people were to ask themselves (for 70 years – Jeremiah 29), “HOW did this happen?” “HOW can we keep this from getting worse?” Most importantly, they were to ask, “HOW can we be forgiven by God, possibly be repaired to a right relationship with Him, and return to the Promised Land?”
“You, O Lord, remain forever; your throne from generation to generation. Why do You forget us forever, and forsake us for so long a time? Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old, unless You have utterly rejected us, and are very angry with us!” Lamentations 5:19-22
Jeremiah is speaking on behalf of the people, not necessarily his personal opinion…a national confession, as it were. Chapter 5 begins with some blame-shifting. i.e., “Our fathers sinned, and we are suffering because of their poor choices…” While that may be true to some extent, eventually, they get around to their personal choices, “Woe to us, for we have sinned!” And that confession, the recognition that we have fallen short of God’s articulated standard (His Word), is always the trigger that leads to restoration.
Every year, religious Jews read aloud the book of Eicha. It is read softly at first. The volume of the reader’s voice builds to the climax, which is sung aloud by the entire congregation: “Turn us to you, O Lord, and we will return. Renew our days as of old.” But God has already turned, not only to the Jewish community but also to any Gentile who seeks a right relationship with Him. His desire to restore comes through Messiah, Jesus our Lord & Savior! The ball is not on God’s side of the tennis court; it is on OURS! We must choose Jesus because He already chose to redeem us!
“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.’” Zechariah 1:3