Lamentations 3

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Lamentations 3

1. What sayings or homespun wisdom can you still hear your mom or dad reciting? How do these still affect you?

2. How do you pass the time in a dentist’s waiting room? What feelings do you experience there?

3. What do you do to get an hour’s reprieve from the hectic pace of your day? Where do you go to get away for a weekend?

4. For whom is Jeremiah speaking in the opening verses? How has God treated him (verses 1 – 18)? How is he feeling? What benefits are there in making such a frank lament? What dangers?

5. What has Judah focused her attention on (verses 17, 19)? What are the consequences of forgetting her past prosperity?

6. How does Jeremiah stem the tide of grief and despair (verse 21)? Is this an easy or natural thing to do in the midst of sorrow? What is the secret of redirecting one’s focus this way?

7. Where does Jeremiah look to find hope (verses 22 -27)? Given the situation, do these words seem hollow? Insane? Unreal? Courageous? Noble? Explain your answer.

8. These phrases (in verses 22 – 27) come from Psalms and Isaiah. Why were they familiar to Jeremiah? How must he have prepared himself in the past to deal with his current depression?

9. What attitudes of the Lord are recalled in verses 22 – 33? How does this picture contrast with that in verses 1 – 18? Why is it necessary to balance both feelings (verses 1 – 18) and faith (verses 22 – 33)?

10. To whom does Jeremiah address his rhetorical questions in verses 34 – 39? What attributes of God do they establish?

11. To what logical conclusion is Jeremiah brought (verses 40 – 42)? How was this conclusion arrived at? How does this begin to make sense out of Judah’s suffering?

12. Why does Jeremiah list the sufferings of the people (verses 43 – 54)?

13. For what does Jeremiah pray (verses 55 – 66)? What hope of an answer does his own punishment give him? When and how had God heard and answered their plea in the past? What did the covenant and the prophets say about God’s hearing (see Deuteronomy 30:1 – 8; Jeremiah 30:10, 11)?

14. Briefly review this chapter. What kind of psychological and emotional progress has Jeremiah made from the beginning to the end of this dirge? What have been the steps in that process? What spiritual “weapons” has Jeremiah used to fight his way back to God?

15. Have you eve felt like Jeremiah in the opening section of this chapter (verses 1 – 18)? Were you able to express those feelings to God? If so, how? If not, why? What kept you from giving up completely at that time?

16. What portions of Scripture are especially helpful to you in difficult times? What hymns and spiritual songs are especially meaningful to you? Why? Do you know them by heart? What benefit might there be in memorizing them?

17. When you’re feeling forsaken and chastened, how do you express your feelings? How do you avoid wallowing in self-pity? What is the danger in being stoic or unemotional? What can you do to balance these two extremes?

18. Do you grow more during easy times or during rough times? What help does verse 33 (and Romans 5:3 – 5; James 1:2 – 4) teach you about affliction?

19. In what ways do we lift up our hands, but not our hearts, when we are in trouble (verse 41)? What does true repentance look like? What do truly repentant people do? What will happen if you dare to embrace the Lord’s discipline as does Jeremiah (see also Hebrews 12:11)?

20. Based on Judah’s experience, how seriously does God take the issue of sin? What does Jesus’ death on the cross add to this picture? How then should we treat sin in our own lives?

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Lamentations 2

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Lamentations 2

1. How would you feel if you organized a party or group activity, only to have nobody come? Has that ever happened to you or your friends? How did you feel?

2. Have you ever seen a person or group get “what was coming to them”? What happened? Why did they deserve it? How would you have felt if they did not get their “just desserts”?

3. Compare Lamentations 1:1 with Lamentations 2:1. What is similar? What is different?

4. In verses 1 – 8, who is the main actor? What verbs are used to describe his actions? What emotions does Jeremiah attribute to God? What images does he use to describe God’s treatment of the “Daughter of Zion” (verses 4, 5, 80?

5. How extensive has the calamity been? List the things “torn down”, “swallowed up” or “destroyed”.

6. In verses 6 and 7, what has the Lord done to “his dwelling”? Why would He treat His own things this way?

7. What images of hopelessness and helplessness does Jeremiah paint in verses 9 – 12? What do the gates and bars represent: kings and princes? the prophets? the law? or what? What is significant about the posture of the elders and young women (verse 10)?

8. What emotions does Jeremiah express when he sees the suffering of the children? Who has escaped the judgment of the Lord? Why?

9. Why is Jeremiah without words of comfort for Judah (verse 13)? Has anything like this happened in her history before?

10. Where does Jeremiah lay much of the blame for Judah’s destruction (verse 14)? What “false and misleading” oracles have the prophets spoken (see Jeremiah 14:13 – 16)? Why?

11. What does Judah’s downfall bring about in onlookers? In her enemies? What do both groups seem to forget about her punishment (verse 17)?

12. Judah’s punishment has been decreed by God earlier, as recorded in Leviticus 26:27 – 46. How is God just in sending this calamity? How is He merciful?

13. Why is Judah encouraged to “pour out” her heart to the Lord (verses 18, 19)? As she pleads her case, is she asking for justice or mercy (verses 20, 21)?

14. What questions are especially troubling for Judah (verse 20)? What is she ultimately looking for (verse 22)? To whom?

15. What characteristic of God is most strikingly displayed by His treatment of the “Daughter of Zion”? What does it mean to lose the “ear of the Lord”? In what ways have you become causal about sin?

16. Does God seem like an “enemy” to you now? Are there any sins with which you have “made friends”?

17. In this chapter, Jeremiah indicts the false prophets who did not expose the sins of Judah. Who are the false prophets we tend to “give ear” to: university professors? entertainers? politicians? psychologist? our friends and associates? “health and wealth” evangelists?

18. What do the people around you think when prominent ministers or ministries fail? Is God’s reputation tarnished or polished when such ministries are put through the fire? Or is God’s reputation separate from the reputation of people and their institutions? How should we react/respond when Christianity receives such bad press?

19. If Judah returns to the Lord, of what can she be confident? What comfort can this give you the next time you feel His “rod of correction”?

20. God’s discipline is “severe mercy”. What evidence of mercy can you see in His past discipline of you? Can you trust that His present discipline of you is merciful?

Lamentations 1

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Lamentations 1

1. What do you consider the darkest hour in your country’s history? Why? If you were alive then, how did you feel? What public reaction best expressed the nation’s sorrow?

2. Think of one humiliation or tragedy you have suffered. What kinds of emotions toward God did you feel?  How did you deal with those feelings? How did you try to make sense out of what had happened?

3. What does the title “Lamentations” suggest to you? Is this the grief of an individual or of a nation? Can you think of similar outpouring of grief in Scripture?

4. From this, what overall picture of Judah comes to mind? What phrase repeatedly sounds like a refrain (see verses 2, 9, 16, 17, 21)? What one word would you use to describe her situation?

5. What has happened to Judah and her “lovers” (verse 2; see Jeremiah 52:4 – 30 for background details of Jerusalem’s fall)? What irony do you see here? What do you imagine Jerusalem looked like after these events? Compare this to her “glory days” (1 Chronicles 14:17; 1 Kings 10:1 – 9, 23 – 25)?

6. What “reversals” of her fortunes had she suffered (verses 1 – 7)? Why? What were some of her sins (see 2 Kings 21:1 – 9; 16)?

7. How had Judah failed to “consider her future” (verse 9)? What warnings had she received as part of the covenant (see Deuteronomy 28:58 – 68)? How did she respond to the warnings of the prophet? what is especially tragic about this failure?

8. What has happened to the sanctuary (verse 10)? Why is this “rape” so devastating? What does it suggest about God’s attitude toward Judah?

9. Does Jeremiah consider the Lord’s treatment unjust (verse 18)? What lesson is her for the “peoples”? What resources or securities have proven futile against the Lord’s anger?

10. Jerusalem was under siege for about a year and a half (Jeremiah 52:4 – 6)? What do you think life was like during the siege (verses 20, 21)?

11. In his distress, to whom does Jeremiah appeal? For what does he pray (verses 21, 22)? On what basis does he make this request?

12. Could this disaster have been averted? How so? What do you think made Judah so “blind” and “deaf”?

13. How do people presume upon God’s favor and goodness? How do nations do the same?

14. If God in His righteousness brought Judah low, what warning is here for us?

15. Judah fell because “she did not consider her future”. Are you (as a nation or as an individual) guilty of the same error? How so? How can you consider the future more effectively?

16. What warnings have God given you that you’ve failed to heed? With what result? Could you be living now on borrowed time?

17. Could there be “sins of presumption” in you life that threatens you prosperity? How is the psalmist’s attitude in Psalm 139:23, 24 a necessary safeguard? Can you pray that prayer today and mean it?