Read Lamentations Five
God is still on the throne. He is still Yahweh. Even in the worst of circumstances, God does not cease to be exactly who He is: יְהֹוִה.
And this reality that the nation of Israel confesses in verse 19, reorients their entire world. We see this reflected in two little phrases here at the close of the book:
Your throne endures to all generations.
Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored.
Let’s look at each of these verses in tandem. First, Israel confesses that God’s throne, or His rule, endures forever. This is to speak to God’s Kingship and Lordship in the universe.
Why might this confession surprise us? What sin has resulted in their exile?
And what are they currently experiencing IN exile?
One aspect of Israel’s rebellion was their rejection of God as their true King. In their stubbornness, they chose not to follow God’s Laws, rejecting Him as their Leader and Lord. And now, they are in exile. They literally have other kings and lords ruling over them. More than that, the temple – their place for God to dwell – has been demolished. God’s holy of holies is no more. It’s nothing more than a pile of rubble. But here, they confess that God is eternally on the throne. This confession holds two powerful realities within it. Fist, it is a statement of rebellion against their Babylonian captors. Though the foreign nation may think they are ruling over Israel, Israel knows the true Ruler. God will never cease to be on the throne. Their consequences for their sin are under God’s authority, not Babylon’s. Israel is not at the mercy of their earthly enemies, but under God’s mercy.
This is a powerful truth for you and me: we are not at the mercy of the consequences for our sin. We are under God’s mercy. In what ways do you need to embrace and remember this?
The second powerful reality embedded in this confession is this: repentance is a reorientation to reality. In repentance, we are not just choosing to do things “God’s way” over “our way” because we want to please Him (though, of course, that is also true). We choose to fall under God’s Lordship because the reality is that He IS Lord. When we bow to other gods, we only fool ourselves. God IS God. This is reality, and repentance is a reorientation to the reality of the universe.
Israel has come to experientially know the truth of Isaiah 66:1-2 even while in captivity:
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where is my resting place?
Has not my hand made all these things,
And so they came into being?
declares the Lord.
The second phrase for our study today is “Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored.”
What is significant about this phrase?
The word for Lord here is, again, Yahweh. What significance does this bring to the text?
What does this phrase reveal to us about the end-goal of repentance?
The only hope Israel has at the end of all things is to be restored to God. Notice that they don’t ask to be restored to their land. They don’t ask to be restored to their homes. They don’t ask to be restored to their status or temple or community. They ask to be restored to God. By the end of this poem, Israel knows deep in their bones that their only hope is to be restored to right relationship with God. HE is their blessing, their greatest good, their delight, their restoration.
How does this influence the way you view your own repentance in your life?
Do you have this high view of God? Do you value His presence this much?
How can Israel’s prayer become your prayer for restoration in repentance?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that His rule will never end. Praise Him for being eternally on the throne. Confess to Him that your situation will never change Him. Ask Him to restore you to Himself – tell Him that He is your greatest good.