Lamentations 3:25-39 – Hope in Despair

Read Lamentations 3:25-39

This section of the third lament begins with hope rather than despair. The author wants the people to understand the hope that comes from depending on God. Clearly, living through the destruction of Jerusalem and watching loved ones die or be taken away was a brutal reality. Hard times are so much more devastating when we don’t rely on God.

This passage speaks of submitting to the “yoke of his discipline.” That is, we are to come willingly to God, accepting his discipline as a way of teaching us something. Have you ever thought that everything that happens to us in life has a purpose? The author encourages readers to accept what was happening and learn from it.

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Lamentations 3:1-24 – Is There Hope?

Read Lamentations 3:1-24

Chapter 3 presents a triple acrostic, so we’ll split up this chapter a bit so we can reflect a bit on each thought. We hear first in our reading today from the perspective of God’s people experiencing deep spiritual sufferings. Like a breath of fresh air, we are also returned to a sense of hope. No matter how dark our times may seem, it is always good to know there will be a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

It’s good for us to remember what happened to the people of Jerusalem. Those are “our” people as believers in Christ. They were Jesus’ people, too. These laments give us a picture of what our future could be if we continue to distance ourselves from God. Why should it be any different for those who stray to other “gods” in our day?

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Zephaniah 2:4-15 – I Will Survive

Read Zephaniah 2:4-15

The universal judgment is spelled out in a little more detail here. It is thought that the nations mentioned represent the whole world, each being in a different geographical direction (Egypt/Ethiopian to the south; Assyria to the north; Philistia to the west; and Moab/Ammon to the east.) What did the other nations do? They disrespected their creator. You can’t taunt or insult God or his people without consequence. God will have the final word.

Pride is another divisive quality that God will punish. “They will receive the wages of their pride, for they have scoffed at the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Here we see that those people who look down on us for our faith and ridicule our belief system will see consequences. We don’t have to fight that battle; God has our back!

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Zephaniah 1:1-6 – God’s Wrath

Read Zephaniah 1:1-6

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and would have spoken God’s words during the reign of King Josiah. You’ll recall when King Josiah learned of the scrolls containing God’s law, great reforms began to help the people of Judah to return to God. Zephaniah would help shake the people of Judah out of their complacency so they could understand their hope comes from God.

Zephaniah doesn’t sugar coat the radical message from God but gets right to the point. God’s wrath will sweep away everything and crush Jerusalem and Judah. Even his own creation will suffer. God’s anger has been fueled by all the idol worship that fills the land.

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Nahum 1:12-15 – Hope & Doom

Read Nahum 1:12-15

Our last reading set the theological context for what Nahum’s message is all about. In this reading, we see clearly two messages, one to Nineveh and one to God’s people, Israel. The same message was heard differently, depending on the perspective. God’s promise of hope and doom were wrapped up in this communication.

Despite the viewpoint, God’s prophecy must have sounded unbelievable. The might of the Assyrian empire was seemingly invincible. The people would see this prophecy play out and realize that God was not only true to his word, but that he was truly invincible. That’s the picture I have of God and I don’t need to witness the crumbling of a mighty nation to understand. The oracle pronouncing this judgment on Assyria would bring peace, freedom, and restoration from the oppression God’s people had endured.

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