WEEK 8: Life Goes On, Justice Will Come – Lamentations 4
In Lamentations 4, we are returned to Jerusalem’s present reality. After the sermon of Lamentations 3, Lamentations 4 reinforces the truth that God takes the reality of pain and suffering seriously. Hardship and suffering do not come to an end with the emergence of hope; it is not an instant fix. Hope simply enables endurance.
The first ten verses of Lamentations 4 describe the fall of Zion. In Lamentations 4:6 we read: ‘The chastisement [Hebrew: `avon] of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment [`avon] of Sodom’. The Hebrew word `avon can be translated as guilt/sin/depravity/iniquity or its consequence, chastisement/punishment. Thus, verse 6 can be translated as the iniquity/sin or punishment/chastisement of the people. Maybe God meant for both to be embraced: the sin and punishment of Zion are both worse than that of Sodom (Genesis 18-19).
In Lamentations 4:17–20 the poem changes to a communal lament. On behalf of the people, the reporter/narrator gives voice to their fears: surely Judah is finished!
But just when it seems that Judah is disappearing from the stage of history, a prophetic voice of authority (possibly the reporter, possibly Jeremiah) rises up to address ‘Edom’ (Judah’s historic enemy whose name is frequently used in prophecy to represent ‘the world’). Edom, he says, should rejoice while she has the chance, because the cup of God’s wrath will soon come to her as restoration comes to Zion. Their fortunes will be reversed! Yahweh will restore Zion and attend to the sin and punishment of ‘Edom’.
Short term, the promise pertains to Jerusalem and her enemies (Edom). Long term, the promise is for the Church and her enemies. This promise – that God will, in righteousness and justice, bring down the wicked and exalt the righteous – is found throughout Scripture. God will have the last word! Everything will be made right.
Read John 16:33b and Matthew 16:18. Consider these verses in light of the prophecy in Lamentations 4, that God will have the last word. What is your response? How will this affect the way you live your life?
Elizabeth Kendal is a dedicated international religious liberty analyst and advocate. Elizabeth maintains two blogs: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) to facilitate strategic mission, aid, advocacy and prayer; and Religious Liberty Monitoring (providing additional news and analysis).