Read Lamentations Four
Israel has entrusted Edom to God. And now, with the “cup” of God’s judgment fully in view, the nation considers her own sin:
The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished;
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish;
he will uncover your sins.
What is in view when the poet uses the phrase “daughter of Zion”? (Look back at yesterday’s study if needed).
What is the difference between Israel’s sin and Edom’s sin?
What distinguishes the daughter of Zion’s punishment from the daughter of Edom’s punishment?
Both Israel and Edom have sinned against God, but their sin has been vastly different: Israel has failed to follow God for generations as her leaders have led her farther and farther astray, while Edom failed to respond to Israel in a single instance of need. Israel did what was wrong in God’s eyes, breaking His commands and doing that which she was commanded not to do. In contrast, Edom failed to do the right thing when they had the opportunity to do it. For one, the sin is long disobedience; for the other, it is a failure to do what is right at a single instance in time.
What assurance does the poet give the daughter of Zion? Put another way, what is the situation of her punishment?
Why do you think the poet says this?
How do you think the poet can justify saying this?
The poet assures Israel that her punishment is “completed.” This word is taken from the Hebrew verb תָּמַם, meaning “finished.” Let’s do a quick word study to help us understand this Hebrew verb in the full context of the Scriptures:
Psalm 102:28 (used in the negative)
Isaiah 18:5 (used as a gardening metaphor, “lops off”)
This word has a sense of finality to it. It means that there has been an event that is entirely over, completely ended, “lopped off.” It doesn’t leave room for unfinished business but brings to completion the total end of the subject at hand.
Israel’s punishment for her sin has been accomplished. God promised that defeat and exile would be the result of her sin, and it was. And as the nation utters a weak and feeble confession of her sin – “we were wrong” – she is assured that this the end of her punishment. It has been accomplished. Her sin will not eternally haunt her, the consequences will not go on indefinitely. The “cup” of God’s wrath has been drunk and drained. And it is finished.
Friends, the assurance the poet gives Israel is the same assurance we have in Christ. When we look at our sin and the resulting consequences, it is easy for us to be overwhelmed imagining that it will never end. But that’s not true. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath on our behalf. In His sorrow and despair Jesus asked the Father that the cup of His divine wrath might pass from Him. But in His submission to the Father’s will, Christ drank the cup of death to the dregs, wiped His bloodied lips, and from the cross uttered, “It is finished.”
We are the joyful recipients of Christ’s completed, final, fully ended punishment for our sin. He didn’t just deal with sin past, but sin present. The cup has passed from you, Christ has drunk it on your behalf. The ultimate punishment for your sin is OVER, brothers and sisters in Christ! Even while you reap uncomfortable and painful consequences for your sin in this life, you can rest assured: the punishment your sin eternally deserved is over. Christ bore it on your behalf. It is finished.
How does this Gospel perspective change the way you experience the consequences of your sin today?
How does it lead you into repentance?
PRAY & REFLECT
Praise God that He has provided a substitute! Thank Christ for His final and sufficient payment for your sin. Thank Him for putting an end to the eternal punishment of sin. Thank Him that it is finished.