RETURN BACK to GOD for RESTORATION & RENEWAL: "Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old" (Lam. 5:21)
The last chapter of the book of Lamentations describes a prayer to God for restoration and renewal as this book ends with a note of hope rather than gloom. After describing their bleak conditions that entailed their loss of their freedom, land and respect, the people of Judah now asks the Lord to return them back to Himself so they can be restored and renewed. Their ultimate hope for restoration was God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises!
There are three key words to note in the above prayer:
- Return: This is one word that can summarize God’s earlier message to His rebellious people through prophet Jeremiah (1:13; 3:40). In fact, in one of Jeremiah’s earlier messages, he had exhorted the people to “return” to God no less than seven times (see Jer. 3:1, 7, 12, 14, 22; 4:1). The Hebrew word for “return” means to turn back from sin to God. This is the first step for repairing the broken relationship of man with God!
- Restore: The term "restore" could be either a physical return of exiles to the land or, a moral and religious repentance back to their former relationship with God. To “restore and to build Jerusalem” was the prayer of the prophet Daniel as well (see Dan. 9:25). Without repentance and conversion there can be no restoration to their former relationship with God!
- Renew: As a verb, the term “renew” (Psalms 51:10) can mean “repair” (Isaiah 61:4). As an adjective, this word identifies something new in contrast to something old, or, something different when compared to the status quo (such as “a new spirit”; see Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31). The Bible teaches that God alone is the One who makes things new, whether it is a new song that God gives to the one He rescues from the horrible pit (Psalms 40:3), or, a new phase in God’s plan of redemption for mankind (Isaiah 42:9; 43:19), or, a new name that God gives to His children (Isaiah 62:2), or, a new heaven and earth that God is going to create one day in the future (Isaiah 65:17; Rev. 21:1).
As in the case of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, there is a point of time that we need to come to our senses and realize our true pitiable condition. It is at that time that we need to return back to God through genuine repentance and conversion. When we do that, God will both renew and restore our relationship with Him (Psalms 23:3).