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

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Lamentations 3

1 "I am the man who has experienced suffering under the rod of God's fury.
2 God has driven me away and made me walk in darkness instead of light.
3 He beat me again and again all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away. He has broken my bones.
5 He has attacked me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me live in darkness, like those who died a long time ago.
7 He has blocked me so that I can't get out. He has put heavy chains on me.
8 Even when I cry and call for help, he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has blocked my way with cut stones and made my paths crooked.
10 He is like a bear waiting to ambush me, like a lion in hiding.
11 He has forced me off the road I was taking, torn me to pieces, and left me with nothing.
12 He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He has shot the arrows from his quiver into my heart.
14 I have become a laughingstock to all my people. All day long [they make fun of me] with their songs.
15 He has filled me with bitterness. He has made me drink wormwood.
16 He has ground my teeth with gravel. He has trampled me into the dust.
17 "My soul has been kept from enjoying peace. I have forgotten what happiness is.
18 I said, 'I've lost my strength [to live] and my hope in the LORD.'
19 Remember my suffering and my [aimless] wandering, the wormwood and poison.
20 My soul continues to remember [these things] and is so discouraged.
21 "The reason I can [still] find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind:
22 the LORD's mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited.
23 It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great.
24 My soul can say, 'The LORD is my lot [in life]. That is why I find hope in him.'
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to anyone who seeks help from him.
26 "It is good to continue to hope and wait silently for the LORD to save us.
27 It is good for people to endure burdens when they're young.
28 They should sit alone and remain silent because the LORD has laid these burdens on them.
29 They should put their mouths in the dust. Maybe a reason to hope exists.
30 They should turn their cheeks to the one who strikes them and take their fill of insults.
31 "The Lord will not reject [such] people forever.
32 Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy.
33 He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone,
34 crush any prisoner on earth underfoot,
35 deny people their rights in the presence of the Most High God,
36 or deprive people of justice in court. The Lord isn't happy to see [these things].
37 Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order.
38 Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God.
39 "Why should any living mortal (any person) complain about being punished for sin?
40 Let us look closely at our ways and examine them and then return to the LORD.
41 Let us raise our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
42 "We have been disobedient and rebellious. You haven't forgiven us.
43 You covered yourself with anger and pursued us. You killed without pity.
44 You covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer could get through it.
45 You made us the scum and trash of the nations.
46 All our enemies gawk at us.
47 Panic and pitfalls have found us, so have devastation and destruction.
48 "Streams of tears run down from my eyes over the ruin of my dear people.
49 My eyes will keep flowing without stopping for a moment
50 until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.
51 What I see with my eyes disturbs me deeply because of all the young women in my city.
52 "Those who were my enemies for no reason hunted me like a bird.
53 They threw me alive into a pit and threw rocks at me.
54 Water flowed over my head. I thought I was finished.
55 "I call your name from the deepest pit, O LORD.
56 Listen to my cry [for help]. Don't close your ears when I cry out for relief.
57 Be close at hand when I call to you. You told me not to be afraid.
58 Plead my case for me, O LORD. Reclaim my life.
59 Look at the wrong that has been done to me, O LORD. Give me a fair verdict.
60 Look at all their malice, all their plots against me.
61 Listen to their insults, all their plots against me.
62 The words and thoughts of those who attack me are directed against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Whether they are sitting or standing, they make fun of me in their songs.
64 Pay them back, O LORD, for what they deserve, for what their own hands have done.
65 Make them stubborn. Let your curse be on them.
66 Pursue them in anger, and wipe them out from under the LORD's heaven."

Lamentations 4

1 "Look how the gold has become tarnished! The fine gold has changed! The sacred stones are scattered at every street corner.
2 "Zion's precious children, who are worth their weight in fine gold, are now treated like clay pots, like those made by a potter's hands.
3 Even jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young, but the women of my people are as cruel as wild ostriches.
4 The tongues of nursing infants stick to the roofs of their mouths because of their thirst. Little children beg for bread, but no one will break off a piece for them.
5 Those who used to eat delicacies are now destitute in the streets. Those who used to wear expensive clothes now pick through piles of garbage.
6 The punishment for my people's wickedness has been more severe than the punishment for the sins of Sodom. Sodom was destroyed instantly, without one human hand touching it.
7 Zion's princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk. Their bodies were more pink than coral. Their hair was like sapphires.
8 Their faces are [now] blacker than soot. No one recognizes them on the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones. It has become as dry as bark.
9 Those who were killed with swords are better off than those who are dying from starvation. Those who were stabbed bled to death. The others are dying because there is nothing in the fields to eat.
10 The hands of loving mothers cooked their own children. The children were used for food by my people when they were being destroyed [by a blockade].
11 The LORD's fury has accomplished his purpose. He unleashed his burning anger. He started a fire in Zion that even burned its foundations.
12 Neither the kings of the earth nor anyone living on earth could believe that enemies or invaders would ever get through the gates of Jerusalem.
13 [They got through] because of the sins of Jerusalem's prophets and the crimes of its priests, who spilled the blood of righteous people within it.
14 My people staggered blindly through the streets. They were so contaminated with bloodstains that no one would touch their clothes.
15 'Get away! You're unclean,' people yelled at them. 'Get away! Get away! Don't touch anyone.' When they fled and wandered around, the people of the nations said, 'They can't stay here any longer.'
16 The LORD himself has scattered them. He will no longer look favorably on them. They no longer respected the priests, nor did they honor their older leaders."
17 "We are still straining our eyes, trying in vain to find help. We waited and waited for a nation that didn't save us.
18 [The enemy] kept tracking us down, so we couldn't even go out into the streets. Our end was near. Our time was up. Our end had come.
19 Those who were hunting us were faster than eagles in the sky. They chased us in the mountains and ambushed us in the wilderness.
20 The person the LORD anointed [as king], who is the breath of our life, was caught in their pits. We had thought that we would live in our king's shadow among the nations."
21 "Rejoice and be glad, people of Edom, inhabitants of the country of Uz. The cup [of the LORD's fury] will be passed to you next. You'll get drunk and take off all your clothes.
22 People of Zion, the punishment for your wickedness will end. The LORD will not let you remain in exile. People of Edom, he will punish you for your wickedness. He will expose your sins."

Lamentations 5

1 "Remember, O LORD, what has happened to us. Take a look at our disgrace!
2 "The land we inherited has been turned over to strangers. Our homes have been turned over to foreigners.
3 We are orphans without a father. Our mothers are like widows.
4 We have to pay to drink our own water. We have to pay to chop our own wood.
5 [Our enemies] are breathing down our necks. We are worn out [and] not permitted to rest.
6 We had to beg Egypt and Assyria for food.
7 Our ancestors sinned. Now they are gone, [but] we have to take the punishment for their wickedness.
8 Slaves rule us. There is no one to rescue us from them.
9 To get our food, we have to risk our lives in the heat of the desert.
10 Our skin is as hot as an oven from the burning heat of starvation.
11 Women in Zion are raped, so are the girls in the cities of Judah.
12 [Our] leaders are hung by their hands. [Our] older leaders are shown no respect.
13 [Our] young men work at the mill, and [our] boys stagger under loads of wood.
14 [Our] older leaders have stopped meeting at the city gate, and [our] young men no longer play their music.
15 There is no joy left in our hearts. Our dancing has turned into mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head. Because we have sinned, it has been disastrous for us.
17 This is why we feel sick. This is why our eyes see less and less.
18 Foxes roam around on Mount Zion, which lies in ruins.
19 "But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever, and your reign continues throughout every generation.
20 Why have you completely forgotten us? Why have you abandoned us for such a long time?
21 O LORD, bring us back to you, and we'll come back. Give us back the life we had long ago,
22 unless you have completely rejected us [and] are very angry with us."

Hebrews 10:19-39

19 Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place.
20 Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain. (The curtain is his own body.)
21 We have a superior priest in charge of God's house.
22 We have been sprinkled [with his blood] to free us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with clean water. So we must continue to come [to him] with a sincere heart and strong faith.
23 We must continue to hold firmly to our declaration of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful.
24 We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things.
25 We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
26 If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins.
27 All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God's enemies.
28 If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses' Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed.
29 What do you think a person who shows no respect for the Son of God deserves? That person looks at the blood of the promise (the blood that made him holy) as no different from other people's blood, and he insults the Spirit that God gave us out of his kindness. He deserves a much worse punishment.
30 We know the God who said, "I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back." God also said, "The Lord will judge his people."
31 Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing.
32 Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain.
33 At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way.
34 You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession.
35 So don't lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward.
36 You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.
37 "Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay.
38 The person who has God's approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him."
39 We don't belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.