Sermons

Summary: The outworking of the mercies and compassion of the LORD, in the context of chastening.

HOPE AND CHASTENING

Lamentations 3:22-33

“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22a). The Hebrew word translated “mercies” is “hesed”, and speaks of God’s steadfast love, His covenant mercy. The fact that “we are not consumed” is based in the unchangeability of God (cf. Malachi 3:6), “because His compassions (they) fail not” (Lamentations 3:22b). This speaks of God’s longsuffering and grace, as in the Name by which He announced Himself as He stood with Moses in Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:5-6).

God’s mercies are such that we are called to their daily recollection: “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23a). We should raise up our Ebenezer, like Samuel of old, and remind ourselves that ‘Hitherto hath the LORD helped us’ (1 Samuel 7:12), and sing with renewed vigour, “Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23b).

I was amazed to discover that this word translated “faithfulness” is actually the Hebrew word “Amen”! It speaks of trustworthiness and is used by Jesus to preface some of His sayings: ‘Verily, verily’, or ‘truly, truly’. What is left in no doubt in Jeremiah’s mind - despite the fall of Jerusalem, Temple, and all - is the utter dependability of God (cf. Hebrews 10:23)!

We have hope in the fact that we can call the LORD “my portion” (Lamentations 3:24; cf. Psalm 73:26). This was originally the prerogative of the Levites (Deuteronomy 10:9), but such a relationship with God is now made possible to all through our Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity, after all, is not a religion but a relationship!

Jeremiah came to the same assertion as had Asaph: “the LORD is good” (Lamentations 3:25a; cf. Psalm 73:1). To whom is God good? To those who “wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:25b; cf. James 5:7). In Hebrew, the verb ‘to wait’ shares the same root as the seemingly perished ‘hope’ of Lamentations 3:18. To whom is God good? To “the soul (that) seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25c; cf. Isaiah 55:6).

We hope for the fulness of our salvation. “It is good,” continues Jeremiah, that a man “should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:26). Your confidence will have a reward (Hebrews 10:35-37), so let us ‘hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:13).

It is good to bear the yoke in our youth, the passage continues (Lamentations 3:27). This sounds almost like a proverb (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:1). The Psalmists knew something about this (Psalm 90:12; Psalm 119:71).

‘Take My yoke upon you,’ says Jesus (Matthew 11:29-30). But the yoke still involves discipline, for ‘whom He loves He chastens’ is the mark of our sonship (Hebrews 12:6-7).

There is a time for silence (Ecclesiastes 3:7; cf. Lamentations 2:10), but also a time for silent solitude (Lamentations 3:28). After all his speechifying, Job at last laid his hand upon his mouth, and bowed to the superior knowledge of God (Job 40:4; Job 42:5-6).

When our heart is burdened, we must learn to stoop low before the LORD. Therein lies our hope (Lamentations 3:29). The prodigal found his deliverance when he was willing to humble himself before his father (Luke 15:18-19).

The righteous person patiently endures affliction (Lamentations 3:30). There are echoes of Job (Job 16:10), and anticipations not only of Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 5:39), but also of His Passion (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67).

How are we able to bear the chastening of the LORD?

Well, there is comfort in the fact that “the LORD will not cast off for ever” (Lamentations 3:31; cf. Isaiah 54:7).

“Though He cause grief,” we are again referred to His “compassion” and His covenant “mercies” (Lamentations 3:32; cf. Lamentations 3:22).

“He does not afflict willingly.” Literally, ‘it is not from His heart’ (Lamentations 3:33). When the LORD does so act it is, as it were, out of character (Isaiah 28:21). He is ‘not willing that any should perish’ (2 Peter 3:9).

The Lord’s chastening is ‘for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness’ (Hebrews 12:10). So, it is up to us to ‘turn and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11; Ezekiel 18:32).

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