Preparing Lament: An Overview of the Book of Lamentations
The book of Lamentations is often skipped over on Sunday morning because of its depressing content. But the message of Jeremiah is needed in the American Church. This is an overview of the book of Lamentations to prepare you for our upcoming series: Learning Lament - Faith and Sadness of Biblical Proportions. Let's set the stage:
The book was written in between The Fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 586BC and the temporary return in 538BC.
An 18-month siege by the Babylonians left the people physical decimated
The destruction of the Temple left the Religious and Political identity of the Israelites shattered.
The prophet Jeremiah writes two letters to the Israelites that were affected by the tragedy
Jeremiah 29 was written to Jews who were taken as exiled captives in Babylon
Lamentations was written to Jews who still lived in Jerusalem after it had fallen
Lamentations is a set of 5 poems. While each stands on its own, they are woven together to draw a picture of the destruction of the city and the emotional, physical and spiritual state of the people.
The poems or chapters are similar in style to other ancient literary genres
- City Lament - written after the fall of great cities
- Funeral dirge - a song of lament and sadness
- Personal/Corporate Lament - an expression of the pain and suffering of people
Three Voices of Lamentations
The story is told by three "characters" with three distinct voices:
- Jeremiah plays the role Narrator/Prophet
- Jerusalem as a personified voice as a suffering woman
- The People Crying out to God
The Voice of God is absent from the book of Lamentations. They people felt that God had abandoned them. Perhaps, in this case, they were right.
5 Themes of Lamentations (that we will focus on)
One could pull a multitude of themes from the poetry of Lamentations. We have chosen five to focus on.
- Sin, Shame, and Consequences
- Lament and Praise
- The City - Individual Sin and Community Responsibility
- The Voice of the Victims
- Why Lament is necessary for the American Church
We hope that you will join us during our exploration to Learn Lament. Be sure to sign up for weekly updates at www.empty.church/sad.