Lamentations 1:1-2:19, Philemon 1-25, Psalms 101:1-8, Proverbs 26:20
Today is the 29th day of October. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is great to be here with you today as we take the next step forward in the Scriptures as we continue to move our way through the year. And we’ve come to a unique day in our year. Yesterday we finished the book of Jeremiah and we finished the letter to Titus, which means in the Old and New Testaments we’ll be beginning new territory. So, in the Old Testament, we will be stepping into the book of Lamentations, which definitely changes the complexion and moves us into some strange and mournful territory.
Introduction to the book of Lamentations:
So, to kind of wrap our minds around the territory that we’re going into, the book Lamentations is composed of five poems of lament. And these laments are over the fall and destruction of Jerusalem. Now we can just blow by that and go, whatever. That was a long time ago. Keep hearing about this. Predictions of it in prophecy and then they’re destroyed…like, we’ve been through this territory. But if we’re to say the fall and destruction of Los Angeles, right? Or the fall and destruction of New York. Or the fall and destruction of Sydney or London. Then we would actually be talking about the magnitude of what’s being described in Lamentations. And we can understand this soul wrenching emotion that these dirges come from. Jerusalem was lost! The temple of the Almighty God had been destroyed, right? So, ash is in the air. Fires are burning all over the place. Blood is everywhere. In Hebrew, this book is called Eykhoh, which means how, right? How could this happen? And of course, we know that it did happen because the Babylonians did breach the wall of Jerusalem and destroy the city. And we not only know this from the Scriptures, but archaeological evidence of this conquest can still be found in Jerusalem today. How it could happen was largely the subject matter that we just read of in the prophecies of Jeremiah. The prophet warned for decades of the impending doom that would befall God’s people if they didn’t turn from their wicked ways. And so now in Lamentations, the prophecies have come true.
And the book of Lamentations doesn’t reveal its author. Not within the text. The tradition is that these mournful writings were written by Jeremiah. And this is one of the reasons why Lamentations follows Jeremiah in the Bible. But biblical scholars have debated this for centuries and there’s compelling theories in favour of Jeremiah and compelling reasons why it couldn’t be Jeremiah. But there is a general consensus on one thing: whoever did write Lamentations was likely an eyewitness to the destruction of the holy city. So, the Babylonians conqured and wiped Jerusalem out in 586 BC. And Lamentations was probably written very shortly thereafter. And until today, in the Jewish culture, on the 9th day of Av, Lamentations is read on a day of fasting to comemorate the great fall of Jerusalem. And as each poem is read, it provides a backdrop for personal and deep reflection. And we’re moving into some territory of lament, right? And so lamenting is never an easy thing. Grief is hard. But it has a way of washing us clean. It strips us away until all the layers are gone, until all that’s left is what is really bedrock in our lives. And even though it’s intensely painful, it’s also freeing. When we have fallen into the depths of sadness, there is hope for our future and lamenting helps us give language to suffering, right? And this is what we stuff. This is the kind of stuff that we stuff down and pretend it’s not there and just allow it to simmer inside of us and turn until it turns into so much anxiety that we can’t think straight. Lamenting gives language to this and helps is release it. It helps us let go of who we once were and what we are lamenting. Because we’re not only lamenting what’s happened to us, whatever it is that’s made us so sad. We’re also lamenting the end of a chapter so that we can begin anew. And we’ll find this in the book of Lamentations. And if we’ll let it, if we’ll enter into it, we can find this in our lives. And, so, we begin. Lamentations 1:1-2:22. And we’re reading from the New Living Translation this week.
Introduction to the book of Philemon:
Okay. So, as we mentioned at the beginning, we’re also beginning a new work in the New Testament, which is another of the Apostle Paul’s letters. And this is the final letter that’s clearly attributed to the Apostle Paul. And like the pastoral letters, this is a personal letter, but it’s not a pastoral letter. It’s a personal letter to a person named Philemon. And it’s short.We’re gonna read the whole thing in just a minute. And it probably was a short letter that accompanied the delivery of the letter to the Colossians that we know as Colossians in the New Testament. Philemon was a church leader in Colossae. And it’s pretty likely that he was probably one of the more wealthy and influential church men in Colossae. According to the letter, a congregation met in his home. And he had a servant. And his servant’s name was Onesimus and Onesimus ran away. And he probably stole from Philemon in the process, which would have been an offense punishable by death. And Onesimus likely fled to Rome from Colossae in an attempt to disappear. At the same time this is happening, Paul was in Rome under house arrest awaiting trial. So, in a strange twist of divine providence, Onesimus came into contact with Paul and then under Paul’s instruction, Onesimus, the runaway slave, became a follower of Jesus. And after his conversion, then Onesimus served Paul and cared for his needs while he was under arrest in Rome. So, sometime later after this, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Colossae, intending to send Tychicus on the journey to hand deliver it and in the process, Paul also wrote this personal note to Philemon and sent Onesimus to accompany Tychicus back to his hometown and master. And this would have been… I mean, you can put yourself in the runaway slave Onesimus’ shoes. This would have been a pretty frightening step of faith because his life hung in the balance. He could be executed for what he had done. But Paul’s influence, not to mention his own imprisonment, gave Onesimus the courage to leave his life in God’s hands and do the right thing. And, so, this letter goes along with Onesimus and packs a punch. It shows us the importance of forgiveness. It teaches us that no matter what our level of authority is over another person, if they’re a believer in Jesus, then they are brothers and sisters and they should be treated as brothers and sisters. And it also gives us a compelling example of how God does, in fact, work all things together for the good of those who love him. And so we begin and end (because we’re reading in its entirety) the book or letter to Philemon.
Father, we thank You for Your word and we thank You for this new territory that we’re entering into in the book of Lamentations and we invite Your Holy Spirit. Some of us are lamenting in our lives right now. All of us, though, have experienced this. And so we invite Your Holy Spirit to give us language to those times in our lives when sadness and grief are our companion. Usually we spend all of our efforts trying to avoid those things or to get away from those things, but they are not purposeless. And when we find ourselves walking through that season, giving language to it gives language to our soul. So, we invite Your Holy Spirit to show us how to enter into this so that it can wash us clean and give us a fresh start. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In the mighty name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is the website, its home base, its where you find out what’s going on around here, and there’s always something going on around here. So, check it out.
Check out the resources in the Daily Audio Bible shop. And, of course, the prayer wall is at dailyaudiobible.com as well. And you can access the prayer wall using the Daily Audio Bible app. So, pray for your brothers and sisters. That’s one of the distinctive goods of what we do here every day as a community is that we’re a community that loves and accepts and forgives and prays for each other on our journey so that we know that we’re not alone. So, the prayer wall’s a great resource for that. Check it out.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible and keep the global campfire burning, then thank you humbly, humbly for your partnership. There is a link on the homepage at dailyaudiobible.com. If you’re using the app, you can press the give button in the upper right-hand corner. Or if you prefer, the mailing address is P.O. Box 1996, Spring Hill, Tennessee, 37174.
And as always if you have a prayer request or comment, 877-942-4253 is the number to dial.
And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.