November 18, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Tuesday through Thursday after the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity

Tuesday

Morning – Psalm 107, Lam. 1:15, 1 Pt. 4:1-6
Evening – Psalm 104, 2 Thess. 1

Commentary, Lamentations 1:15-22

In these verses Jerusalem is presented as a person speaking and lamenting her fate.  She says, “For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.” Her comforter is God.  But she has become His enemy.  Therefore He does not comfort her.  Instead her children are desolate and here enemy, the Babylonians prevailed.

For centuries God has blessed and comforted IsraelAnd. For centuries, Israel has gone astray from God.  He sent the prophets to call her back to Him, back to the covenant He had made with Abraham and his descendants.  There were brief periods of revival, but the general direction on Israel was away from God rather than toward Him.  Often God allowed Gentile nations to oppress Israel.  We remember the Philistines and Assyrians, for example.  In 586 B.C. the most devastating conquest to date took place when the Babylonian Empire, led by its king Nebuchadnezzar, invaded Israel and nearly exterminated the Jewish people.  Lamentations was written after the Babylonian conquest and describes the sorrow of the Jewish people following the massive death and destruction of their people and home, and their captivity in the land of Babylon.

Verse 17 says God has made Jerusalem unclean, unable to participate in the life of the covenant, as a woman is temporarily unable to participate during her issue of blood.
In verse 18 Jerusalem confesses that God has dealt justly with her because “I have rebelled against his commandment.”  Israel often forsook God to follow pagan idols.  The idolatrous religions were self-indulgent and blessed wickedness while God demands self-discipline and holiness.  The pagan religions were more “fun” and the Hebrews people often gladly flocked to them.  Many did not outwardly desert God, but incorporated pagan ideas and practices into the Old Testament faith and worship.  They believed they were faithful to God and the new ideas and practices were compatible with His will.  But to add or delete anything to the will of God in doctrine or practice angered God, who often punished Israel for this sin.

The pagan religions, and the practices adopted from them, deceived even the priests of Israel.  Their participation in them left them dead in the streets of Jerusalem (1:19).  This should serve as a constant reminder of the danger of attempting to attract people to the Church by adopting the ideas and practices of ungodly people.  Because of sin, “abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death” (1:20).

Though God allowed Jerusalem to fall, the Babylonians are not absolved of the terrible evil of conquest and devastation.  Israel had sinned wickedly against God, but had done no wrong to Babylon.  Therefore the attack on Israel was unprovoked and unjustifiable.  It was nothing short of murder on a massive scale.  Therefore Jerusalem prays for justice upon Babylon (1:21-22).

Wednesday

Morning – Psalm111,112, Lam. 2, 1 Pt. 4:7-11
Evening – Psalm 105, Lam. 3, 2 Thess. 2:1-12

Commentary, Lamentations 2

Chapter two continues to describe the death and devastation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians.  Yet, it is recognized that someone far more powerful than the Babylonians has allowed this to happen.  It is God who has become as an enemy to Israel (2:5).  He has swallowed up all her palaces, destroyed the strongholds, and increased her mourning and lamentations.  The Babylonians are but His instrument.  He has raised them up for this purpose

Not all prophets speak the truth.  There are false prophets, self-proclaimed prophets who are neither called of God nor speak God’s word.  They say what people want to hear, and they speak to make themselves popular, for popularity means money and money means power.  Thus we read in verse 14, “Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things.”  Vain means empty and meaningless.  Here it refers to faked visions and soothing words which do not convey the truth. Foolish refers to things that are not of God.  Since the false words of false prophets cannot give real comfort, the perceived comfort they give is false.  The felt peace they give is a false peace.  No matter how good people feel about the message they bring, their feelings are based on falsehood, therefore the good feelings are vain.  Trust in lies is foolishness.

Jeremiah knows well the deceit of false prophets. Read his words to them in Jeremiah 23:14-40.  Nor are false teachers limited to the Old Testament era.  2 Timothy 4:3 and 4 tell us they will continue, even in the Church, and that people will gladly hear them.  Certainly they abound today.  Beware of such for they are dangers to your soul.

Lamentations 3

Chapter three finally begins to show some remorse for sin.  We should see this as encouragement from Jeremiah, rather than repentance from the people.  Yet, Jews in Jerusalem and Babylon will read these words, and some will find them expressing their heart’s desire in true repentance.

Verses 22 and 23 express the great foundation of the penitent’s heart; the compassion and mercy of the Lord.  It is because He is merciful that He has not completely annihilated Israel.  “His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”  What moving and comfortable words.  No wonder they form the essence of one of the Church’s great hymns.

From the mercy of God, the prophet turns to the benefits of God’s chastisement.  “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (3:32).  The chapter gives the hope that those who bear the chastisement of God, who do not grow angry at God for their chastisement, or allow it to drive them into unbelief, will see God’s mercy again, and very soon.  Their chastisement will bring them to repentance, and repentance will bring them back to God.  The chapter ends by recounting again the trouble Israel has brought on itself by her own sin, and a cry to deliver her from the enemies who now control them.

Thursday

Morning – Psalm115, Lam. 4:1-9, 1 Pt. 4:12
Evening – Psalm 114, 124, 2 Thess. 2:13-3:5

Commentary, Lamentations 4:1-9


“How is the gold become dim.”  Israel is that gold.  Once a brightly gleaming treasure to God, it is now dim, ugly, refuse.  Her people, once more precious than gold to their God, lie dead in her streets.  Rather than fine gold, they are like broken clay pots.  Even though the battle is over, hunger continues to ravage the people.  Mothers have no milk for their children (3-4).  Those who were once wealthy now search trash heaps for food (4:5). The Nazarites, a people supposedly completely set apart for God’s service, once well fed and healthy, are unrecognizable; their skin clings to their bones as though muscle and sinew are completely absent (4:7-8).  Those who died in the war are better off than those who survived, who pine away for the fruits of the field (4:9).