Lamentations 3; Lamentations 4; Lamentations 5; Hebrews 10:19-39

1 I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God. 2 He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness 3 And beat me again and again with merciless blows. 4 He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones. 5 He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish. 6 He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death. 7 He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape. 8 I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen; 9 I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn. 10 He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion. 11 He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me. 12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. 13 He shot his arrows deep into my body. 14 People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all. 15 Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink. 16 He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on rocks. 17 I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are. 18 I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone. 19 The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. 20 I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. 21 Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: 22 The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, 23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. 24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. 25 The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, 26 So it is best for us to wait in patience - to wait for him to save us - 27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. 28 When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience; 29 We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope. 30 Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all. 31 The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. 32 He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. 33 He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain. 34 The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison; 35 He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us; 36 When justice is perverted in court, he knows. 37 The will of the Lord alone is always carried out. 38 Good and evil alike take place at his command. 39 Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin? 40 Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. 41 Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray, 42 "We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O Lord, have not forgiven us. 43 "You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger, 44 By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through. 45 You have made us the garbage dump of the world. 46 "We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies. 47 We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear. 48 My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people. 49 "My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream 50 Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us. 51 My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city. 52 "I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me. 53 They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone. 54 Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near. 55 "From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you, 56 And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard. 57 You answered me and told me not to be afraid. 58 "You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life. 59 Judge in my favor; you know the wrongs done against me. 60 You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me. 61 "You have heard them insult me, O Lord; you know all their plots. 62 All day long they talk about me and make their plans. 63 From morning till night they make fun of me. 64 "Punish them for what they have done, O Lord; 65 Curse them and fill them with despair! 66 Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!"
1 Our glittering gold has grown dull; the stones of the Temple lie scattered in the streets. 2 Zion's young people were as precious to us as gold, but now they are treated like common clay pots. 3 Even a mother wolf will nurse her cubs, but my people are like ostriches, cruel to their young. 4 They let their babies die of hunger and thirst; children are begging for food that no one will give them. 5 People who once ate the finest foods die starving in the streets; those raised in luxury are pawing through garbage for food. 6 My people have been punished even more than the inhabitants of Sodom, which met a sudden downfall at the hands of God. 7 Our princes were undefiled and pure as snow, vigorous and strong, glowing with health. 8 Now they lie unknown in the streets, their faces blackened in death; their skin, dry as wood, has shriveled on their bones. 9 Those who died in the war were better off than those who died later, who starved slowly to death, with no food to keep them alive. 10 The disaster that came to my people brought horror; loving mothers boiled their own children for food. 11 The Lord turned loose the full force of his fury; he lit a fire in Zion that burned it to the ground. 12 No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations, believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem's gates. 13 But it happened, because her prophets sinned and her priests were guilty of causing the death of innocent people. 14 Her leaders wandered through the streets as though blind, so stained with blood that no one would touch them. 15 "Get away!" people shouted. "You're defiled! Don't touch me!" So they wandered from nation to nation, welcomed by no one. 16 The Lord had no more concern for them; he scattered them himself. He showed no regard for our priests and leaders. 17 For help that never came, we looked until we could look no longer. We kept waiting for help from a nation that had none to give. 18 The enemy was watching for us; we could not even walk in the streets. Our days were over; the end had come. 19 Swifter than eagles swooping from the sky, they chased us down. They tracked us down in the hills; they took us by surprise in the desert. 20 They captured the source of our life, the king the Lord had chosen, the one we had trusted to protect us from every invader. 21 Laugh on, people of Edom and Uz; be glad while you can. Your disaster is coming too; you too will stagger naked in shame. 22 Zion has paid for her sin; the Lord will not keep us in exile any longer. But Edom, the Lord will punish you; he will expose your guilty acts.
1 Remember, O Lord, what has happened to us. Look at us, and see our disgrace. 2 Our property is in the hands of strangers; foreigners are living in our homes. 3 Our fathers have been killed by the enemy, and now our mothers are widows. 4 We must pay for the water we drink; we must buy the wood we need for fuel. 5 Driven hard like donkeys or camels, we are tired, but are allowed no rest. 6 To get food enough to stay alive, we went begging to Egypt and Assyria. 7 Our ancestors sinned, but now they are gone, and we are suffering for their sins. 8 Our rulers are no better than slaves, and no one can save us from their power. 9 Murderers roam through the countryside; we risk our lives when we look for food. 10 Hunger has made us burn with fever until our skin is as hot as an oven. 11 Our wives have been raped on Mount Zion itself; in every Judean village our daughters have been forced to submit. 12 Our leaders have been taken and hanged; our elders are shown no respect. 13 Our young men are forced to grind grain like slaves; boys go staggering under heavy loads of wood. 14 The old people no longer sit at the city gate, and the young people no longer make music. 15 Happiness has gone out of our lives; grief has taken the place of our dances. 16 Nothing is left of all we were proud of. We sinned, and now we are doomed. 17 We are sick at our very hearts and can hardly see through our tears, 18 because Mount Zion lies lonely and deserted, and wild jackals prowl through its ruins. 19 But you, O Lord, are king forever and will rule to the end of time. 20 Why have you abandoned us so long? Will you ever remember us again? 21 Bring us back to you, Lord! Bring us back! Restore our ancient glory. 22 Or have you rejected us forever? Is there no limit to your anger?
19 We have, then, my friends, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus. 20 He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain - that is, through his own body. 21 We have a great priest in charge of the house of God. 22 So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. 26 For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us. 27 Instead, all that is left is to wait in fear for the coming Judgment and the fierce fire which will destroy those who oppose God! 28 Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty from the evidence of two or more witnesses. 29 What, then, of those who despise the Son of God? who treat as a cheap thing the blood of God's covenant which purified them from sin? who insult the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment they will deserve! 30 For we know who said, "I will take revenge, I will repay"; and who also said, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God! 32 Remember how it was with you in the past. In those days, after God's light had shone on you, you suffered many things, yet were not defeated by the struggle. 33 You were at times publicly insulted and mistreated, and at other times you were ready to join those who were being treated in this way. 34 You shared the sufferings of prisoners, and when all your belongings were seized, you endured your loss gladly, because you knew that you still possessed something much better, which would last forever. 35 Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward. 36 You need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises. 37 For, as the scripture says, "Just a little while longer, and he who is coming will come; he will not delay. 38 My righteous people, however, will believe and live; but if any of them turns back, I will not be pleased with them." 39 We are not people who turn back and are lost. Instead, we have faith and are saved.
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