Lamentations 5

 Scripture Text:

(click to open in a new window or tab)

Lamentations 5

1. Were you ever lured into wrongdoing, caught and punished while the ones who led you astray got away clean? What were the circumstances? How did you feel?

2. Have you ever found yourself under the authority of someone who wasn’t entitled to that authority? Summarize the situation and your reactions.

3. Who is responsible for the punishment Judah is suffering (verse 7)? Is this a realistic view or blame-shifting (see verse 16)?

4. Who are the different groups mentioned in verses 11 – 14? What is said of each? What is the total impact of these verses?

5. Describe the emotion you hear in verses 15 – 18. What is the climatic line of verses 1 – 18? How is this the beginning of Judah’s return?

6. What attribute of God does Jeremiah mention (verse 19)? Why is that significant?

7. When are we most apt to “consider our own ways”? During smooth sailing? In the midst of the storm? When we are going nowhere?

8. For what does Jeremiah pray throughout this chapter? Has God abandoned Judah or has Judah abandoned God? Both? Neither? Does the book end on a hopeful note or a despairing one? Why do you think so?

9. In what sense are you bearing the punishment for you the sins of your fathers? In what ways are you laying up punishment for your children? How can the cycle be broken?

10. As a nation, are we stoking up judgment for the next generation? Explain.

11. If repentance is the first step in returning to God’s favor, why is it so difficult for us? Where in your life is it most difficult to admit your failure and ask for God’s help? What incentive does the book of Lamentations give you to do that?

Advertisements

Lamentations 4

 Scripture Text:

(click to open in a new window or tab)

Lamentations 4

1. Are the stories from your parents’ past “the good old days”, or are they “those hard times”? What experiences of satisfaction and suffering do you recall from those stories?

2. Have you ever dressed up in your “Sunday best”, only to find yourself doing some dirty job? What was the job? Did you keep your clothes clean?

3. What is the hungriest or thirstiest you have ever been? How did you get that way? How did it feel?

4. Have you ever visited an old castle or fortress which was once considered impregnable? What was it like in its glory? What is it like now?

5. What are the “gold” and “sacred gems” of verses 1 and 2? What is the difference between these items and the clay pots? What modern image is the equivalent of this comparison?

6. What is the difference in child-rearing responsibility between the jackal and the ostrich? (Ostriches will abandon their eggs when confronted with danger.) What have the people of Judah done to deserve this comparison?

7. How is Judah’s punishment worse than that of Sodom (verses 6 – 10)?

8. Why did everyone assume that Jerusalem’s gates were impregnable (see Jeremiah 7:1 – 8)? What made the gates vulnerable (verses 12 and 13)? How might these false prophets have been guilty of shedding innocent blood (see Jeremiah 23:16 – 19)? How could these people have so great an effect on the whole nation?

9. Even as destruction approached, where did Judah look to for help (verse 17)? Who is probably responsible for this “looking in vain”?

10. Have the people lost confidence in their king (verse 20)? Why or why not (see 2 Kings 25:1 – 7)?

11. Why does Jeremiah’s attention shift to the “Daughter of Edom” in verses 21 and 22? Why is she rejoicing (see Psalm 137:7)? What will be her end (see Jeremiah 49:17 – 22)?

12. What hope is given to the “Daughter of Zion” in verse 22? If you were one of the people of Judah, how would you feel at the end of this dirge?

13. What are the “gold and sacred gems” in your life? If these were suddenly taken away, how would you feel? Where would you look for a sense of self-worth?

14. For Judah, Jerusalem’s gates were a symbol of security. What are the symbols of security for your nation: NATO alliance? Nuclear arsenal? technological superiority? Fort Knox? Other?

15. Has national pride or presumption of safety actually made your country vulnerable? By the same token, are you spiritually vulnerable?

16. Does your country (like Judah) have false prophets and priests who proclaim also visions? Who are they? political “image makers”? Advertisers? School textbook publishers? Health and wealth evangelists? New Age advocates? Other? What makes their visions so attractive? So dangerous?

17. Are you or your nation guilty of being an “ostrich” toward the children in your life? How so? What can be done to stop this?

18. If an individual does not resist the Lord’s discipline, but submits to it, what can he hope for? Is that your hope? Your church’s  hope? By contrast, what is your nation’s hope? Explain the difference. 

Lamentations 3

 Scripture Text:

(click to open in a new window or tab)

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?