Read Lamentations Three
This week, we’ve moved through the crux of Lamentations three. Take a moment to remember the big-picture of the book:
What role does chapter three play in the overall structure of Lamentations?
What verses serve as the crux in the literary structure of Lamentations 3?
What do we see in those verses? Summarize in your own words.
Where is the poet in the process of repentance? What stages has he moved through? Where does he seem to be now in verse 39?
The poet has walked through several stages in the process of repentance. He has taken the first step in repentance: acknowledging God’s character and the ways in which his own actions and Israel’s do not line up with God’s perfect nature. He has also taken the second step of repentance: he has confessed his sin to God, telling God that he and his people were wrong to disobey. The third step: he tells God that He is right to punish him and his country for their disobedience and to confess that even this punishment is in God’s good character. The fourth: waiting on the Lord without a sense of entitlement towards God’s restoration. And finally, the fifth: confessing God’s unchanging character, even when his situation has not yet changed.
I don’t know about you, but I often think about repentance in much simpler terms. I think of it as praying an “I’m sorry I was wrong, God” kind of prayer, but in reality that’s what confession is. And while confession is a vital part of repentance, repentance is a process.
Consider any sin God has pointed out in your own heart and life. What would it look like for you to walk through the process of repentance, like we have seen in Lamentations?
Step 1, recognizing the way your sin does not line up with God’s character:
Step 2, confessing your sin to God:
Step 3, confessing to God that He is right to allow your sin to lead to promised consequences:
Step 4, waiting on God without a sense of entitlement to restoration:
Step 5, confessing the character of God while your situation remains yet unchanged:
Read Lamentations 3:40-42. Summarize these verses in your own words.
What shift has occurred between Lamentations 3:25-39 and these verses above? (note the pronouns used)
Since the poet has come through the process of repentance, he now turns to His people. Shifting from an “I” or “he” in previous verses, the poet turns his language toward the congregation. He invites them to join in what he is saying, using the plural “us” and “we.” From his place of personal repentance, he turns to his people and invites them to join him in repentance.
We will look at the invitation to repentance in full next week, but today let’s consider how this invitational language is positioned in the book. The author only invites the people to join him after he has personally gone through the process of repentance himself. We can only lead people towards repentance if we have been willing to go through it ourselves. This is the ministry of repentance, and its only qualification is a lifestyle of repentance.
Why do you think this is significant?
Have you experienced this to be true in your own life?
What do you hope is ahead for the people of Israel?
How can you use your own repentance to lead others closer to Christ through repentance?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God for leading you in repentance. Praise Him for giving you the gift of repenting from your sin. Ask Him to show you how He might use you and your story to lead others in repentance.