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When Tomorrows Become Yesterdays

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SYLLABUS
STUDIES IN THE BOOK OF Jeremiah

LAMENTATIONS 3
Lesson #47
WHEN TOMORROWS BECOME YESTERDAYS

  • Memory Verse: Lam 3:24
  • After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Jeremiah is looking back at all that happened. The prophecies that God gave him predicting the destruction in the future has now become events of yesterday. The people thought there was no future for them.
  • Frequently people go through this type of depression when things do not turn out the way they anticipated.
    • Jeremiah always hoped the Israelites would repent and turn back to God.
    • That was not only his hope but carrying the message of repentance was his life’s work.
      • Serving God in this way was his reason for getting up in the morning.
      • Serving God in this way was his reason for enduring the heavy persecution from his own people.
    • You can understand how he feels. Everything he had worked to accomplish had come to nothing. The question one would ask then is, “Of what value was my life?”
  • In this pit of depression, the tendency is to repeat over and over in your mind all the events that brought you to the place where you are today.
    • The reason the mind goes through this cyclical process is to see where you could have done something differently that would have changed the outcome.
    • Is there any value in this cyclical process?
      • Generally there is no value when it cycles the person downward into deeper and deeper depression.
      • However, for the believer in Jesus Christ, there can be some value, and we see it in this chapter.
  • Read Lam 3:1-20 Jeremiah remembers the sufferings: The prayer of the afflicted.
    • Jeremiah’s sufferings:
      • Jeremiah begins the chapter by remembering his own sufferings and how he felt when he was captive in the cistern. (1-12)
      • He was unable to get out of the mud up to his neck. (Jer 38:6)
    • Israel’s sufferings:
      • Then the tone changes from the sufferings of Jeremiah personally to the sufferings the nation of Israel endured because of their idolatry and disobedience. (9-13)
        • The Israelites knew God was punishing them because that was Jeremiah’s message.
        • They see God lying in wait watching them to see when they will do something that displeases God. There are many people that see God in this way.
          • “Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.” (8)
          • The sufferer feels as though God does not hear his prayers.
        • Jeremiah knew that God’s punishment was merited.
      • The bitterness of sufferings:
        •  He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.” (15)
        • Wormwood is a bitter substance.
          • Suffering can become bitter when you do not understand what God is doing.
          • Suffering can become bitter when sin is involved, and you do not want to give up the sin.
          • An attitude of bitterness turns a person against God. It is the wrong attitude.
      • An important spiritual truth:
        • It is one thing to have God’s hand against you as He wields the corrective switch of punishment as a parent to His people.
        • It is another thing to have God’s heart against you.
        • Read Heb 12:6-13
          • The New Testament tells us that God chastens us as children because He loves us.
          • This New Testament passage means that just because a person is suffering the chastening of God, it does not mean that God’s heart is against him for his disobedience.

How do we know this?

If God’s heart was against His people, he would have totally destroyed all of them.

Many times over in the book of Jeremiah we see God tells us that He will not abandon His people.

Many times over in the book of Jeremiah we see God say He will restore them to the land.

          • These verses in Hebrews, together with this chapter in Jeremiah, give us the proper attitude we should have instead of bitterness when God is chastening us.

Read Heb 12:12-13 again.

We are not to let the suffering spiral our attitude down into depression.

We are to lift up our hands to the Lord and correct our Christian walk so as to please God.

          • We are to learn what God is teaching us through the sufferings.
          • We learn more about God and His ways by the problems that go through.
          • How can we know that?

Read Jam 1:2-8

James tells us that God will reveal it to us if we ask and trust by faith.

  • Read Lam 3:21-36 A positive attitude of hope is necessary
    • “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” (21)
      • A positive attitude of hope will see you through anything.
      • What is it that gave Jeremiah this hope?
      • “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (22)
        • Jeremiah knew God’s ways and God’s word.
          • He knew they deserved total annihilation for the wages of sin is death.
          • But he knew the grace and merciful character of God’s love. If not for that the situation would be worse.
        • To know God’s character and how He deals with people is the most hopeful thing the believer can learn in his walk with the Lord.
          • “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”(23)
          • God’s character is love and faithfulness.
        • Hope must be grounded in a person’s personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
          • “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” (24)
          • Like David, Jeremiah talked to himself putting into words what he should believe.
        • God honors faith and a willingness to learn.
          • “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” (25)
          • Sometimes waiting is the hardest part but remember that God has His perfect timing.
      • “ It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” (26)
    • “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” (27)
      • Those who were young when they went into captivity would have an easier time if they learned from God with the proper attitude.
      • Generally speaking, it is when a person is old that change comes harder because his mind and lifestyle are already established.
      • If you learn humility before God when you are young, your life will go more smoothly for the one who can bear persecution without getting angry has the spiritual advantage. (29) (Isa 1:6)
    • The promise:
      • “ For the Lord will not cast off for ever:” (31)
      • This is why patience with faith is important.
      • Read 1Pet 1:6-10
    • In verses 32-36 Jeremiah tells us about the character of God. What characteristics do we see here?
      • He has compassion and mercy (32)
      • He is not capricious in His punishment. (33)
      • His plans have a purpose (34-36)
  • Read Lam 3:37-41 Watch your attitude!
    • “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (39)
    • Humanly speaking complaining is a common ailment.
      • However, Jeremiah, in Lamentations, and in the passage we read in Heb 12, we are told that this is the wrong attitude.
      • Complaining only reinforces the downward spiral into depression and justifies a negative attitude.
      • Notice how many times in this chapter we have talked about having a proper attitude while suffering God’s chastisement.
  • Read Lam 3:42-54 The complaints of the Israelites
    • Verses 42-47 list Israel’s complaints against God.
    • These complaints are facts of what happened to them; however, in their pride they do not consider the reason for those events.
      • In other words, you may have legitimate complaints, but if you do not consider the cause of the events, you are seeing the situation from man’s limited viewpoint.
      • For Israel, the cause was the nation’s own sin of idolatry and disobedience, perpetuated by a failure to heed the warnings with repentance.
      • God took responsibility for being the one that punished His people, but man left God without a choice
    • Their complaints against God:
      • =1= They complain God has not pardoned them. (42) However, they did not repent and ask for forgiveness.
      • =2= They complain God has not heard their prayers. (44) However, they have not come to God with an attitude of humility but one of pride and rebellion.
      • =3= They complain that God made their enemies hate them and attack them. (45-46) God permitted their enemies to attack and destroy because it was the only way to get their attention.
  • Read Lam 3:55-66 The Struggle Between Faith, Fear, and Hope
    • When Jeremiah was captive in the dungeon (55), it was faith that won the victory. This is Jeremiah’s testimony of his hope in God against the fear that surrounded him.
    • In this part of the chapter, Jeremiah is the model for his people that are now suffering. In other words, Jeremiah’s life was a prophecy in itself. He suffered persecution and captivity. His people would suffer the loss of everything as well and end up in captivity for 70 years.
    • It is Jeremiah’s testimony of hope and faith in God that will see you through but only with the proper attitude of humility and repentance.
      • Notice that Jeremiah says God heard his prayers and saved him from the dungeon even though the Israelites felt their prayers were unheard. In fact, Jeremiah calls his prayers “my breathing” in God’s ear. (56)
      • God told him not to fear. (57)
    • God answered. (58)
      • “The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day.  Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.” (62-63)
      • While Jeremiah is their model in suffering, there is a big difference between Jeremiah’s sufferings and the Israelite sufferings.
        • Jeremiah was an innocent victim in the hands of the people that plotted against him and made a fun game out of their persecution.
        • Israel was not innocent. They deserved the suffering that came upon them, but God still loves them.

HOMEWORK
Lamentations 4

  • Application of Lam 3
    • Consider your own attitude when suffering comes your way. How have you reacted in the past?
      • Like the Israelites that complained and spiraled down into depression?
      • Or like Jeremiah that came to God in humility and repentance trusting in the eternal hope by faith?
    • If you reacted like the Israelites, make a determination today to thank God for everything that comes your way knowing that praises to God are the wings of victory.
  • Preparation for Lam 4
    • Read Lam 4:1-22
      • Explain how you think God balances justice and mercy in the lives of people.
  • Memory Verse: Psa 89:14
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About Joyce

Joyce
I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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