Longing for Restoration

KEY VERSE: “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.” —Lamentations 5:21

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Lamentations 5:1-10, 19-22

UNSPEAKABLE DISASTER HAD struck God’s chosen people. Not only had the beloved city of Jerusalem been destroyed and burned, but the people had been carted off to Babylon. Where was God in all of this? Had he forgotten his covenant with the people? In their agony, the people cried out for God to remember them. What was the status of their inheritance, now that their land had passed into other hands? (Lam. 5:2)

They reminded God of the problems that had befallen them. Could not God help them now, as he had when they were slaves in Egypt? At that time God remembered them and raised up Moses to deliver them. (Exod. 2:24; 3:7) Again, they were praying through Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations, to be remembered and delivered. Lamentations 5:3-10 describes their pitiful condition. They compared themselves to the most vulnerable members of society—the orphans and widows—needing care and sustenance. The water they drank, and the wood they used, which were freely available in Jerusalem, now would have to be bought. Food was gathered at the risk of life itself. They were abused by their overseers, and forced to work long hours—without the Sabbath rest which was in conformance to the Jewish Law.

Even as they asked God to remember them, the exiles acknowledged their own sin. Like their forefathers, they too had sinned. In short, these captive people were living in chaotic, oppressive circumstances. Their surroundings were both unfamiliar and hostile. There was no Temple, so they could not worship or offer sacrifices to God. All they could do was lament their situation and call upon God to remember them.

In verse 19, the people acknowledge the God of their fathers as an everlasting God, perhaps recalling the words of their faithful king, David: “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” and, “Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever.” (Ps. 90:2; 45:6) They reasoned that such an everlasting God would not forever forsake them, and therefore they asked this question, “Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?” (Lam. 5:20) To them it already seemed like too long a time of punishment. They could not understand that it would be yet another twenty-five centuries before the yoke of Gentile dominion would be removed from them, and they would begin the process of being regathered as a nation.

Our Key Verse, “Turn unto us … and we shall be turned,” for the first time, indicated a desire and willingness to change their former ways. This verse shows an attitude of repentance which God was looking for in his people—and not only repentance, but also a sincere desire to reform and change their ways.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the time when, at the end of this present age, Israel will indeed ‘turn’ back to God. He says, “All Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:26, 27) This will be the time of Christ’s kingdom, when all, not just Israelites, will be turned again to the Lord, and “all the nations of the earth [shall] be blessed.”—Gen. 22:18

Dawn Bible Students Association
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