Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.
Notes to the Leader: This study is best done if your group has already read Lamentations chapters 4 and 5. The questions are specific with regard to Scripture and your group can benefit from discussion on each point that might not be fully understood.
In this lesson, the concept of sin’s consequences is covered. It also provides a forum for discussing the standards to which each citizen should measure its leaders. Use contemporary examples from your newspaper to add interest with respect to punishment, government and the contemporary church. If your group members have children, consider adding further discussion with regard to the consequences of one generation and how they are passed onto the next.
What is the most serious thing you have ever forgotten?
- For me, there are all those birthdays (my children’s), anniversaries, the occasional departure time for a flight or two causing me to miss the plane, tightening those clamps on that outboard motor of mine (it fell off); and the coat. You see, I was leaving for a month long trip in Asia, forgetting that outside of Florida, it still is very cold in March.
What happened as a result of forgetting those very important things?
- My children still love me and I remain married so I was spared the trauma of those forgetful moments. But missing those planes did cause me to miss several very important meetings. My motor never quite worked the same after I retrieved it from 3 feet of water and I got sick on my extended Asian trip.
What, then seems to always accompany forgetfulness?
What are the things that cause us to forget God and what are the typical consequences?
- Write the list on your whiteboard or easel.
- Jobs – careers
- The struggle for power
- A focus on one’s self
- and any other priority that places God second typically gets in the way of our understanding of God’s will for us.
- Many times consequences are not immediately clear. However, time proves that ignoring God is dangerous and leads to a hardened and darkened heart.
Section One: The Horrors of War
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 4:1-5.
What does the imagery of Jeremiah paint in your mind?
- Here was once a great and wealthy nation. Now they are just ordinary. While the people still clamor for spiritual fulfillment, no one is interested in proving the “food.”
While it is easy to see the suffering of those who have forgotten God, Who else has been hurt by the sin of the people?
- Ostriches lay their eggs carelessly in the desert and can easily be stepped on. It is the next generation that will also suffer.
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 4:6-11.
What do you remember about the destruction of Sodom?
- God’s judgment was carried out instantly (Genesis 19:1-29).
What was to make God’s judgment so much more severe this time?
- No one would be spared, not even the wealthy.
- Those who died were lucky.
- The people would be so hungry, they would be driven to cannibalism.
Section Two: Even the Great can Fail
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 4:12-16.
How did the leaders of Jerusalem let down their people?
- They were guilty of shedding innocent blood. Instead of leading their people to worship and righteous commitment to God, they led their people into idolatry and sin.
Read James 3:1 to your group.
To what standard does God hold a leader against, lower or higher than most?
Is this higher standard still relevant today?
- Leaders of our Church, our government, our work and our families should all be held to higher standards. It is what God will do!
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 4:17-20.
What were the people doing here?
- They had placed lookouts in the city’s tower and watched in hope for Egypt to come to the rescue.
What is the great sin that Jeremiah is bringing forth?
- Jerusalem’s collapse would be due to three key failures:
- Failed prophets and priests;
- A failed alliance with Egypt; and
- A failed monarchy.
Anyone or anything other than God is false security (read Psalms 18:2)
[Have someone in your group read Lamentations 4:21-22.
What is Jeremiah reminding us of?
- The enemy will be subject to God’s judgment and we, His people, will be subject to His grace, even though we are subject to our own consequences.
Section Three: The Horror of War
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 5:1-10.
Jeremiah begins his prayer how?
- Jeremiah is pleading for God to take notice of the plight of His people and turns to prayer.
- They had lost all of their land and possessions (v. 2)
- They lost their power and rights as people with property and sovereign citizens (v. 3)
- They were forced to pay exorbitantly for basic necessities like water and fuel (v. 4)
- They were hounded and persecuted wherever they went (v. 5)
- They were forced to beg for bread from despised neighbors (v. 6)
- They suffered the punishment of their parents (v. 7)
- They were enslaved by low-ranking Babylonian officials with no hope of rescue (v. 8)
- They were exposed to attack from desert tribes (v. 9)
- And they had to endure the constant ravages of hunger (v. 10)
It might have seemed obvious to God, that the Israelites needed help, but they still needed to initiate the prayers.
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 5:11-18.
What were the people of Jerusalem driven to do in all of their despair?
- (v. 16) We have sinned!. Repentance is often a difficult and bitter pill. In spite of all of the pain, suffering, indignation, etc., there are always those who refuse to repent.
Section Four: Our Hope
Have someone in your group read Lamentations 5:19-22.
What is verse 19?
- Acknowledgement of God’s sovereign, reign over this world.
Was Jeremiah’s prayer asking God not to abandon His people?
- Not exactly. God never would abandon His people. God ordained all that was happening to the Israelites for His purpose. God’s covenants remained.
What then was the obstacle in restoration?
- The people. Never God.
What is the main benefit of sin’s consequences?
- It is our wake up call.
Are sin’s consequences, than, a blessing or a curse?
- To those who understand and love our Lord, they are God’s greatest blessing. They focus our attention on repentance.
Bible Truth Being Taught
God never forgets His people; after a time of consequence for sin, God renews His relationship of love with each of us.
To encourage us to seek humility before the Lord, to seek His forgiveness, and to experience His power of restoration.