Have you read through the Old Covenant Book Jeremiah? I remember a very dear colleague of mine who started preaching through this Book of the Bible. A few weeks into it, some in the congregation were saying, “Woe is me! Woe is me!” Some see the human author of Jeremiah as a prophet of doom. However, we need to remember that, as with All Scripture, Jeremiah is “God Out-breathed” … that is, inspired, infallible and inerrant.
I would like to look at a few points from Jeremiah chapter 7 today. Please read the whole passage if you are able.
People of God
Jeremiah has a message from God to the people of God (Israel). This message is prophetic in that what he preaches will come to pass. It will happen … and history proves it did. These people were terribly rebellious before God. Yes, the people of God, yet the rebellious people of God. Read verses 2b to 7 and see the offer gave them to reform themselves.
Prophet of Doom
Although I mentioned this already, it is important to grasp that the message God gives him to relay to God’s people is not a nice message. The message is far more than a sting! It is one of doom and destruction … of devastation and damnation. Even though he speaks the very words that God puts into his mind, there is nothing good about his message. To call Jeremiah a prophet of doom would be one hundred percent accurate! Read verses 8 to 11; verse 13b; verses 17 to 18 and verses 24 and 26. No wonder we read:
Jer 7:28 “Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.’”
Prayer is Not Allowed
Jeremiah is forbidden by God to pray for these people.
Jer 7:16 “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you”
Jer 11:14 “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress”
Jer 4:11 Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12 Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
It is a very sad day when the spiritual leader is divinely prohibited from praying for the flock!
Jer 7:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD. 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’S house and there proclaim this message:
“‘Hear the word of the LORD …’”
He is not permitted to pray for them, but preaching must continue. God is angry with them because of their rebellion. They must hear from God, but God refuses to hear from them.
Jer 7:24 “But they did not listen or pay attention”
Jer 7:27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you”.
Their idolatry led them into a space where they rejected God’s Word completely.
Power of Love
Jer 7:20 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched.”
Why was God angry with them? Why did His wrath boil over? The answer is because He loved them! You might struggle with this … but if God did not love, there would be no room for anger and wrath. This is what is known as divine jealousy! See:
Ex 29:5 “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God”
Ex 34:14 “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Deut 4:23 “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
When the object of love becomes adulterous, then jealousy causes anger and wrath.
Pray for All
We need to understand two things about Israel.
First, they are no longer the people of God. All followers of Jesus are the true Israel … be they Jew or Gentile … together they are Children of Abraham.
Second, there are so many lessons to learn from Israel and her rebellion against God. The tendency to sin that was theirs is ours too. Where we live in a time where rebellion towards God is at epidemic and pandemic levels with the majority of those hearing the Gospel message refusing it, preferring to worship some form of idol or the other, the true followers of Jesus have a Gospel mandate to pray for all people. Jeremiah would have cherished the day to intercede for the rebellious people of God … we have the privilege of praying for all the rebellious people of the earth.
1Ti 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men.
Although people are rebelliously wicked and reject God’s Word, because of the Blood Stained Cross of Calvary all Christians are called to pray for people to receive the Gospel and be saved! See God’s will in verses 4-6a.
God is not building the physical Israel. He is building the spiritual Israel and, through the Gospel, calls people from throughout all nations to come and be saved … but that call needs to saturated in prayer! What Jeremiah was not permitted to do … we are! Let’s pray “them in!”
Dear God, thank You for the way You love. It is pointed, penetrating and powerful. Your love is so intense and passionate. Thank You for Your anger and wrath. May we be a people who understand Your jealousy preventing us from straying into idolatry. Help us to be more concerted in praying for the lost, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.