Read Lamentations Five
Israel has communally confessed that she has sinned, and that she is bearing the results of her sin. And, as she reflects on her current situation, we can’t help but notice some familiar language for Israel. As the nation is led off into exile, we see familiar landmarks for this nation – landmarks from Egypt.
Read Lamentations 5:1-16. In what ways does Israel’s current situation have overtones from her slavery in Egypt? In what ways is her current situation different from her experience in Egypt? Use the outline below to help you break down the chapter.
Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.
Our pursuers are at our necks;
we are weary; we are given no rest.
We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria,
to get bread enough. (Specifically, recall how Israel fell into Egyptian captivity.)
Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
and we bear their iniquities.
Slaves rule over us;
there is none to deliver us from their hand.
Our skin is hot as an oven
with the burning heat of famine.
Young men are compelled to grind at the mill,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.
For this our heart has become sick,
for these things our eyes have grown dim,
for Mount Zion which lies desolate;
jackals prowl over it.
Just like in Egypt, the people are famished, having to work for their daily bread. Their backs are broken under heavy loads and an unbearable workload. They are forced to work for their water and for the benefits of their work to go to their oppressors. They are hot and ill from hard and forced labor. Just like their forefathers, their need for bread leads them further into bondage.
But, unlike Egypt, this is the result of their sin. They are not simply slaves themselves, but are ruled over by slaves. They have become the very lowest of the cultural totem-pole. Their situation is more dire than their national recollection. Truly, their sin has led them into greater despair than Israel can ever remember.
But Israel experientially knows something: yes, they know exile. But they have also known exodus. God has pulled them out of oppression before, and He is capable of doing it again. When they were oppressed and burned by their slave masters – when they were the most despised among the nations – God saved them, redeemed them, and called them out to be His people. God didn’t just rescue them from their slavery and leave them on their own, but He called them out to be with Him. He was their God. He was present with them. He led them. God saved them from their situation and called them into proximity to Him.*
When we are at our lowest, we do well to remember the God who has saved us before. When we look at our sin and the resulting consequences, we can look with hope to our salvation. God has dealt with our sin! He has saved us! He has brought us out of darkness and into the Kingdom of His marvelous light! With this great hope in hand, we can have confidence – like Israel – that He is capable of calling us back to Himself again.
PRAY & REFLECT
Praise God for your salvation. Pray about any ongoing sin and repentance in your life. Ask God to help you remember your salvation, and to trust Him to pull you close to Him through repentance.
*It’s too hard to keep it under wraps! The next study is going to have everything to do with God’s call to Israel out of Egypt and into proximity and presence. I can’t wait to share more with you, but this presented too much of an opportunity for a little teaser. Of course, I hope you’ll join me for this study next!