Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
24 I say, “The Lord is my portion,
Therefore, I will put my hope in Him.

The Original Intent

1) What is the context of these verses?

Lamentations tells the story of Israel’s deepest grief in a format that goes beyond simple words on a page. Its message flows from the deepest, guttural pains of a broken heart surrounded by absolute devastation as told from the heart of Jeremiah, one of the prophets who foretold of Israel’s destruction.

Reading the opening lines of Lamentations 1:1-2 provides a powerful depiction of brokenness, “How she sits alone”,
she “has become like a widow”,
she “has been put to forced labor”,
“she weeps bitterly during the night with tears on her cheeks there is no one to offer her comfort”,
“all her friends have betrayed her”.

Jeremiah penned Lamentations alongside his book of prophecy, which provides the reason behind Jeremiah’s grief. His poetry gave words to the pain ripping through his own heart as well as the agony experienced by his people as they were exiled from their homeland.

Israel was God’s chosen people, set apart to reflect His glory to the world. The Lord had birthed Israel from “Father Abraham” whose wife was barren but who was given a miracle son in her old age, Isaac. Through Isaac, eventually, there came 12 tribes of Israel, and a nation was born.

Despite slavery in Egypt, wandering in the desert for forty years, and countless foes, the Lord protected Israel, grew her into a strong nation, giving her a homeland in Canaan called the Promised Land. All along, the Lord had covenanted with them to be their God and they would be His people. As part of the covenant, they were to live “set apart”, again, to reflect His holiness to the world.

Tragically, Israel forgot God’s great love for them, choosing instead to worship the false gods of the nations around them. Despite decades and decades of warnings through prophets, they turned an ever-deafening ear to their Maker, which earned them horrific destruction, much death, and exile as a people.

The Everyday Application

1) What is the context of these verses?

Just as a lyrical song or even entire composure of instruments alone connects with deep places in us, so does Jeremiah’s pain penned through poetry. Perhaps you’ve seen a sweeping vista or that “picture worth a thousand words” and it hits something in your heart that is indescribable.

Perhaps, as you read Jeremiah’s words of weeping, you’re reminded of a pain that grows heavier and more pronounced in you. The Lord heard Jeremiah’s grief, and His heart broke along with him; so He sits with you in your grief. Whatever it is, He knows and He sees and He’s present with you in it.

God’s called Israel to live radically counter-cultural; their identity was to be altogether “other-worldly”. (1 Corinthians 5:9-10) They were to close their hearts to the pressure of their peers; they were to look nothing like them in their pursuit of being holy as their True King was holy. (Exodus 19:5-6)

But sin’s pull ensnared them. Their love was divided, and eventually won over by sin, which was active rebellion against God.

This fight against the corruption of culture, peers, and sin is exactly the same for us as it was for the nation of Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Jesus’ half-brother, disciple, and New Testament author, James, wrote of this reality, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” (James 4:4)

Out of His great love for His people, the Lord sent prophets warning Israel to repent of their sin and come Home to Him. Today, His Spirit is at work in the world calling us to put away our sinful lusts and live in holiness for the God who took our punishment upon Himself that we might be rescued from our own destruction. (Titus 3:3-9)

We are called to live in holiness, reflecting God’s good, merciful character to a world around us.

The Original Intent

2) In what ways do we “not perish” and on what does this promise hang? (verse 22-23)

Jeremiah watched death on the streets of Jerusalem as he witnessed God’s righteous judgment descending on his neighbors, his city, and everything familiar to him. Yet, right in the middle of his poem, he wrote, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!”

It seems out of place doesn’t it? But Jeremiah knew a truth that Israel would have known also had they listened to his prophetic voice. This was not the end of Israel’s story. In every prophetic book, generous space is given for the Lord’s vow to bring His people Home. Every prophet who spoke of coming judgment and called the people to repent, also spoke of a day when the Lord would restore His people. (Jeremiah 33)

Perspective matters. Jeremiah wasn’t grieving over injustice against Israel. He wasn’t railing at God for committing unfair atrocities as a reckless, raging power-monger. Jeremiah knew the truth; he knew Israel deserved punishment. He had watched firsthand as his fellow citizens worshipped false idols, caved to peer pressure, and mocked the Lord. He knew, too, that he was not innocent either.

When we look at our sin and the just punishment we deserve, we suddenly catch the smallest glimpse of God’s radical mercies that just keep coming every morning and the shafts of His faithful love carrying us along despite our rebellion.

Perspective matters.
True, Jeremiah wept and mourned and grieved; none of us blame him and neither did God. What happened to Israel was tragic. But Jeremiah wept with hope because he knew the character of His God to be redeeming, loving, and merciful. To this truth, he clung with all his might, despite his tears. And one day, in a manger in Bethlehem, God took one more step to bring that redemption to not just Israel, but the whole world for all generations.

The Everyday Application

2) In what ways do we “not perish” and on what does this promise hang? (verse 22-23)

Understanding the context of not only Lamentations, but also the lengthy prophetic book of Jeremiah, we are even more surprised to read these words of extreme hope in the middle of ravaging darkness and despair.

Curiously strange?
Out of place?

Only if you are unaccustomed to a Hope that goes far beyond circumstances and even devastating loss do these words seem impossible, even ludicrous. For the Christ-follower, for the one who knows they have been mercifully saved from an eternal death earned by our sin, Hope in the midst of Horror is exactly what we expect to find. (Romans 6:23)

Israel earned her exile a thousand times over by her rebellion. She broke her covenant with God before it was even ratified at Mt. Sinai with a golden calf they crafted then worshipped as if it had rescued them.

Oh! So have we earned our own rightful death sentence! As we near Christmas, let’s hold truth before our hearts. Because of our sin, yes that lustful thought, those gossipy words, that fierce burst of temper, all of those have rightly earned us separation from all good and merciful kindnesses of the Lord God. Forever.

But because of Christmas, when God entered His creation wrapping His perfect deity in wrinkly newborn skin, we have hope. Hope that is far more than wishful thinking because it knows that tiny babe left the manger, taught us about true holy living that rightly reflects God’s character, then died in our place, so we could be forgiven of every single sin. That’s Hope on display.

Christmas. Easter. Right now. Today. Anchoring hope, in the midst of our mess, our brokenness, our loneliness and loss. Whatever you’re walking through, you have an opportunity to cling to real hope, just as Jeremiah did in the middle of his poem full of grief.

The Original Intent

3) What does Jeremiah mean by declaring, “The LORD is my portion”? (verse 24)

Imagine standing on the street some distance away from your own house, watching it helplessly burn to the ground. Firefighters work to put out the flame, but it’s obvious everything is lost. You gather your children, wrapped in a borrowed blanket, tears mingling with their stunned cries as you take in the tragedy happening right in front of you.

No more family table to dine at, no more closet with clothes or cozy bed to fall asleep in; all gone while you are left home-less on the street.

This was the scene for Jeremiah, except it wasn’t just his house and belongings, it was every home for every resident of an entire nation. A nation displaced. A nation left home-less. Tragic. Unfathomable. Rebuilding was ridiculously impossible. But the slice of the sword’s blade went deeper still for Israel was God’s chosen people and this was her inheritance.

Canaan was the Promised Land. Jerusalem was the city of God. The same God who had spoken through a burning bush to a shame-filled shepherd calling Him to make Yahweh’s name great as He would set His people free from slavery in Egypt. The same God who carried His people through the wilderness for forty years. The same God who destroyed every enemy in Israel’s path as they first took possession of Canaan. The same God who caused Israel to flourish and grow, protecting them from every army. The same God who chose to dwell with His people in the Holy of Holies at the Tabernacle. Now, because of her rebellion over generations of time, Israel would lose her land, her promise, and her position as chosen people. They lost what they thought was their inherited portion.

The Everyday Application

3) What does Jeremiah mean by declaring, “The LORD is my portion”? (verse 24)

As Jeremiah surveyed the losses piling up on all sides, he chose to direct his gaze on the One Source who would not be revoked. Yahweh Himself. When all else was gone, everything demolished, and every loss counted, Yahweh remained. In the ashes of it all, Jeremiah looked to the Lord and declared with every fiber of his being, “The LORD is my portion, therefore, I will put my hope in Him.”

It takes trust to hold onto a truth you don’t feel or see. Trust requires familiarity and intimate knowledge in order to be genuine. Jeremiah trusted the Lord God because He knew Him. He listened to the words of the Lord’s mouth given to him through prophecy. He watched the Lord fulfill exactly what He said and Jeremiah placed every ounce of trust on Yahweh.

When you can survey the ashes, grief, sorrow, loss, and disappointment happening around you, but still say with the ancient prophet, “The LORD is my portion, therefore, I will hope in Him” peace happens, stability is given, and joy bubbles up. Worship begets peace, Sister. Jeremiah knew this and he practiced it, instructing his heart, and Israel’s, to praise the One who held all things even when it seemed all was lost.

The true treasure was never land or a name, it was always Yahweh. Somewhere along the way, Israel had forgotten God was their Portion. I don’t know about you, but especially in the mass chaos of Christmas, I need to remember that truth too. Hopefully, I won’t need to watch my house go up in flames to be reminded of where my true inheritance and portion lie, but if that’s what my heart needs, I sure hope my lips repeat Jeremiah’s words of worship, “The LORD is my portion, therefore, I will hope in Him.”

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