Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Reading the following may give you some insight into why he wept:
“As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not offer a cry or a prayer on their behalf, and do not beg Me, for I will not listen to you. (Jer 7:16 HCSB)
“As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not raise up a cry or a prayer on their behalf, for I will not be listening when they call out to Me at the time of their disaster. (Jer 11:14 HCSB)
Though our guilt testifies against us, Yahweh, act for Your name’s sake. Indeed, our rebellions are many; we have sinned against You. Hope of Israel, its Savior in time of distress, why are You like a foreigner in the land, like a traveler stopping only for the night? Why are You like a helpless man, like a warrior unable to save? Yet You are among us, Yahweh, and we are called by Your name. Don’t leave us!
This is what the LORD says concerning these people: Truly they love to wander; they never rest their feet. So the LORD does not accept them. Now He will remember their guilt and punish their sins.
Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of these people. If they fast, I will not hear their cry of despair. If they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. Rather, I will finish them off by sword, famine, and plague.”
And I replied, “Oh no, Lord GOD! The prophets are telling them, ‘You won’t see sword or suffer famine. I will certainly give you true peace in this place.’”
But the LORD said to me, “These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds. (Jer 14:1-14 HCSB)
God had spoken to His people through Isaiah and others, but they ignored God’s warnings and continued in their sin. There was a brief interlude during the rule of the godly king Josiah, but after his death the people returned immediately to idolatry. The reforms had been a mere political expediency for the inhabitants of Judah.
Is that where we are today? Has God said “Don’t even pray for them; I’m not going to listen?” Is it possible that this nation needs God’s judgment in order to bring us back to Him? God’s judgment is always for mercy, for training, for restoration. (Isa_54:3, Isa_54:11-12, Isa_60:10; Ezr_2:70; Psa_102:13-16, Psa_147:2; Jer_30:18; Jer_31:4, Jer_31:38-40, Jer_33:7; Eze_36:33-36; Dan_9:25; Zec_2:4, Zec_12:6; Zec_14:10-11)
In the first post of this series I brought up Abraham’s intercession, which even in its success failed to save Sodom. Yet Ezekiel (a contemporary of Jeremiah) prophesied concerning Sodom (and Israel (Samaria) and Judah):
“I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and those of Samaria and her daughters. I will also restore your fortunes among them, so you will bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you did when you comforted them. As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters and Samaria and her daughters will return to their former state. You and your daughters will also return to your former state. (Eze 16:49-55 HCSB)
Even in His judgment, God is merciful. Of course, His mercy may be a l – o – n – g time coming. Because He is both just and merciful is not a reason to flirt with His justice. We don’t want His judgment if we can have His restorative mercy. Cry out, people of God! Cry out for His mercy and restoration. Beg Him to send His Holy Spirit on His people to enable us to pray effectual and fervent prayers for the turning of our nations.
YHWH endured the sinfulness of Israel for many hundreds of years, but He may not be as patient with us. We in the western world have exceeded the sinfulness of the days of Jeremiah by far. Rightly or wrongly, we are known by His name all over the world, and instead of showing His light, we have brought Him reproach, and in so doing have turned people away from the world’s only hope. May God have mercy on us! Pray, people of God. He may yet have pity on us and draw us to Himself and heal us of our backsliding. Only don’t wait too long . . . .
Next: A Covenant of Prayer