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Introducing Lamentations (Part II)

The Lamentations sermon series started this morning. For those people who weren't able to be with us (but who will be with us next week) it is important to understand the structure of this Old Testament book...

2 Kings 25 tells us facts surrounding the fall of Jerusalem. Lamentations tells us feelings. 2 Kings 25 is prose but Lamentations is poetry. Lamentations is five chapters and each chapter is a poem. If you look at chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 4 and chapter 5 they all have 22 verses. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters and these four chapters are alphabet poems. Each verse starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And for three of these poems the letters are in order. If you like, verse 1 is ‘A’, verse 2 is ‘B’, verse 3 is ‘C’ and so on. But for one of these poems – the last one - the letters aren’t in order. It’s not ABCDE - it's CEBAD. As part of his poetry the Lamenter is trying to understand suffering. You could call his poems the A to Z of suffering. But in chapter 5 he concludes: “I don't understand it - suffering is confusing!” From his perspective there is no rhyme or reason to suffering. And our suffering today isn’t the same as their suffering then, but that conclusion is still helpful. When we suffer it is OK to cry to the LORD: “I don’t understand. I’m confused. What are you doing, LORD? Why?!”

One commentator describes the rhythm of the poetry - they have a ‘peculiar limping rhythm.’ The Lamenter has been scarred by suffering, and now he lives his life with a limp. The scars will fade but however much they fade they will always be there. And again, our suffering isn’t the same as their suffering but we too can be scarred by suffering – seriously scarred - and we too can live our lives with a limp (physically, emotionally, spiritually). And Lamentations doesn’t guarantee us happiness, but Lamentations does give us hope. Chapter 3 is also an alphabet poem but it has 66 verses - three times 22 (three verses per letter of the alphabet). Or in other words chapter 3 is the climax of Lamentations. In the four other poems there’s a lot of heartache, and there is heartache in chapter 3, but there is also hope. At the heart of Lamentations, even in the heartache, there is hope! In the gloom of darkness there is a glimmer of light: 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 (Lamentations 3:22-23). We will be looking at Lamentations chapter 3 on Sunday 23rd June. It would be great to have you with us...


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