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What the Bible says about Lamentations, Book of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 3:11

We should tie this directly to the truth of verse 1: “There is a time for every purpose.” The key word, of course, is “time.” In life's challenges to our faith, in which God is involved with us, some purpose is being worked out. In verse 11, we learn that both the timing and what is being worked out are “beautiful.” The event might be challenging, but God, who is involved in the Christian's life and in this challenge, calls it “beautiful.” With that hopeful knowledge, what should our attitude be?

The root of the Hebrew word translated beautiful literally means “bright.” The Hebrew word can be translated “fair,” “comely,” “beautiful,” “suitable,” “appropriate,” and “timely,” depending on the context. In Job 42:15, the same Hebrew word is translated “beautiful” when describing Job's daughters. It indicates something good and admirable, a blessing.

What an encouraging truth! God's timing, His oversight of events, and what He wants them to accomplish are something good! They are not merely broadly good but also suitable, fitting, appropriate, and timely.

Was the scattering of Israel and Judah beautiful in its time? If we read Lamentations without considering God's entire purpose, the situation appears very ugly indeed. However, over the long haul, the answer is undoubtedly, “Yes, it was beautiful and good!” It was suitable for that occasion.

What about the scattering of the church? Was it beautiful? The same is true. Our going through it may have been stressful, requiring painful adjustments while enduring to the end, but in the long term, it will most certainly be beautifully good.

Is correction good? Do we really want to continue doing things wrong? If God had not done what He did when and how He did it, how many serious spiritual character and attitude flaws would have gone uncorrected? How disastrous would they have been to the salvation of many?

How many nice people have we fellowshipped with in the past but who have seemingly been swept overboard and appear lost? The reality may be that they were “nice tares.” They indeed may have been fine people with many social graces but completely unconverted. Perhaps they no longer fellowship with us because God delayed their true calling, sparing them from the Lake of Fire.

Peter states clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). There used to be a television program called Father Knows Best. Yes, He does! And because of the way God has acted, many more will enter His Kingdom in His image than if He had not intervened. It is even possible to consider that we may all have been lost except for His rough intervention!

It is critical for us to keep in mind always that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). His overview captures the entire span of events; He sees the entire picture. We, though, live in a time-bound, material universe, and all we have is a mere point of view (I Corinthians 13:12). For the most part, we are restricted to grasping things from our narrow perspective. This is why faith is required of us and why Solomon states in verse 11 that we cannot “find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

So how can we meet life's challenges in the right spirit?

If we think the scattering of the church has been difficult to accept in a good attitude, we need to be patient because prophecy reveals that things will become much worse as time moves on! I am personally becoming ever more aware that time is moving on for me. My mother, who lived to be almost 93, said to me once, “Getting old is not for sissies.” She was saying in her unconverted way that, regardless of age, the trials of life never do really end. As one ages, they simply morph into another form.

To help us through our current spiritual trials as well as the intensifying times ahead, we must come to know God through a personal relationship and trust Him to work things out. We must use our faith, knowing that we do not see the entire picture.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time

Lamentations 2:1-9

Jeremiah is the likely author of Lamentations, writing after reflecting on the devastation of Jerusalem following the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian army. A number of prophets, Jeremiah being the most obvious, had thoroughly warned the Jews for many years. God even raised up a righteous king, Josiah, to provide godly governmental and religious leadership, but it was to no avail because the people were not truly repentant and sincere in any changes they made. The changes were only on the surface, not reaching their hearts, so idolatry—especially—continued to rage unabated.

The chapter continues with more of the same, leaving no doubt at all that God was directly responsible for His reaction to their sins. Jerusalem's devastation did not merely happen randomly in the course of history. God was directly involved. He brought on the horrific fear and pain. It was His warnings through the prophets that were ignored because they did not fear the Lord and did not truly believe that they were answerable to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)

Luke 22:44

Judaism breaks the Old Testament down into three major sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings or Psalms. As an organizational tool, this division of books works well, but it has also served to restrict Bible students to a narrow view of the material in these sections. For instance, some are slow to notice law in the Prophets, wisdom in the Law, prophecy in the Writings, and so on.

On the other hand, commentators have always noted the prophetic character of many of the Psalms. Psalm 22 is obviously prophetic of Christ's suffering and death. Psalm 118 predicts Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before He was crucified (Matthew 21:9). Other chapters and verses in the Psalms are also seen as prophetic of Christ's ministry or the work of the church.

But what about some of the other books of the Writings? These include Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the two books of Chronicles. The book of Daniel is certainly prophetic, but the others are considered as historic books or poetry and wisdom literature. Do they have any prophetic significance? Indeed, many of them do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy in Song


 




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