Dear 365 readers – Wee start Lamentations tomorrow, and Ezekiel shortly thereafter!
Lamentations – A five stanza song of lament, a time of weeping and grief. Beloved Jerusalem has been destroyed, its buildings burned to the ground, and its people carried off into exile in Babylon. The author, presumably Jeremiah, seems astonished and stunned that God would allow His people to endure such suffering. From Lamentations we learn that mourning is ok, there is a time and place for grief. And yet, in the end the author clings to a quiet hope in the character of God, that “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)
Ezekiel was a prophet who was in Jerusalem prior to its destruction, and then went into exile in Babylon in one of the early waves of people who were deported (along with the prophet Daniel). Ezekiel becomes the messenger to captives in Babylon. It’s a strange book – full of imagery and visions. As you come to each prophecy, consider the dominant image (prostitute, grapevine, shaved head…) and consider what it represents. Also watch for the repeated phrase, “Then they will know that I am the Lord”. Ezekiel closes with hope, there will be a new Jerusalem one day and God will make His home there forever.
Courage friends, this is perhaps the darkest period of the history of Israel. God’s punishment on them for their sin is heavy, and yet He has a plan to restore and renew. May we be encouraged by His faithfulness and unfailing love!