17
Jan
08

God Forbid: The Day God No Longer Accepted Prayers

Please take a moment and imagine yourself dwelling in the city and land of your birth.  You greatly love where you live and have a lot of “national pride”.  You are young and extremely inexperienced in worldly matters, but you are full of love for God and want to serve Him with all your heart.  Now imagine that you are the only person in the entire country who knows the truth about what is happening and is going to happen. 

Imagine God telling you that He has chosen you to be His spokesperson and that you must speak that truth to the most powerful people in the land, regardless of the consequences.  Furthermore, you have been warned by God that the people will not listen, and the very things you tell others are coming, you too will have to suffer through.  As if all this were not enough, God tells you to forget about praying for the people, for they are beyond the point where prayer does any good.  In fact, God says He will not even listen to your or the people’s prayers.  You now know a little bit how the prophet Jeremiah felt.

When Jeremiah first came on the scene, the good king Josiah was reining and Judah was going through its last period of peace and prosperity.  God knew what was coming and He needed to raise up men to be His prophets.  Consider that in the year 587 B.C.; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Obadiah were all probably functioning as prophets.  Why so many?  Because it was that very year that Jerusalem fell.  God was doing everything possible to give His people one last chance to repent and not have to face destruction, captivity or extinction.

Jeremiah did not want the job God gave him.  As Moses did many years earlier, Jeremiah told the Lord that he did not know how to speak.  He reminded the Lord that he was but a “child”.  Certainly God must have someone more qualified to be His spokesman.  Certainly there must be someone with all the appropriate degrees available.  Certainly there were wise masters in the king’s palace who could carry out this job far better than Jeremiah could.  One would certainly think such would be the case; but it wasn’t.  Jeremiah was who God wanted and so God called him.

In response to Jeremiah’s objection regarding being unable to speak and being a child.  This is what God had to say in Jeremiah 1:7-10 from the NIV:

“But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘ I am only a child.’  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.

See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

What a unique calling Jeremiah had in life.  His entire life was basically spent being a prophet of doom.  Although he was also a prophet of restoration, this was secondary to his primary purpose of warning and giving the exceedingly unpopular message of impending destruction and captivity.  His main purpose was to uproot, which is the opposite of planting.  So much of what the prophet Jeremiah had to do consisted of ripping up the systems of unbelief planted in Judah. 

The words “tear down”, “destroy” and “overthrow” are all direct opposites of “build”.  Jeremiah’s primary purpose was not to be a carpenter prophet, but a demolition man.  He constantly had to go to the king and tear down or destroy the lies and idolatry which ran rampant throughout the kingdom.  He would consistently have to report to the powerful leaders the bad news that the kingdom was ready to fall.  Of course this did not make him a popular fellow around the palace.

During the 40 or so years Jeremiah functioned as the prophet; he dealt with good kings such as Josiah and wicked ones like Jehoiakim.   In fact, Jehoiakim detested Jeremiah and was relentlessly hostile toward him.  After Josiah’s untimely death, Jeremiah spent far more time in prison than he did enjoying freedom.  When not in prison he was constantly persecuted and attacked for his incessant negativism and for being the “prophet of doom”.

On one occasion a pit was dug and filled with dung.  Jeremiah was placed in the pit and its unpleasant ingredients came up to his neck.  This was done to “persuade” him to change his prophesy from one of doom to one which was more “politically correct”.  It is no wonder that Jeremiah spent most of his life weeping.  Not for himself, but for the land he loved and for the stubborn and unrepentant people he carried his message to.

As I was reading Jeremiah the other day, I couldn’t help but think that it might have been written last week.  So many times when I look at the state of this country and the state of the church; I feel as Jeremiah felt when looking at Jerusalem.  As he would see the incredible sin and corruption; he would first get angry and then weep for he knew what was coming.  I too get very angry with our secular culture and the hypocrisy among religious people.  I also end up weeping for I know that the hour is approaching quickly when this once proud country will be a pile of rubble and the once great Church will be the temple of the anti-Christ.

Nothing much has changed in the 2600 years since Jeremiah lived and boldly proclaimed God’s Word.  The world is still corrupt and full of evil men whose only desire is personal power and gain.  The religious leaders are as wicked as ever and together with the political leaders they seek only to oppress the poor and get more and more power and wealth for themselves.  The country today is as full of idols as Judah was in Jeremiah’s time.  The world today is as ready to help destroy this country as it was to destroy Jerusalem when Jeremiah lived.

God is as fed up with the situation today as He was back in 687 b.c.  What God had to say in reference to the unbelief, idolatry and wickedness recorded in Jeremiah is as applicable today as it was then.  Very little has changed except the characters in the story and the location where it takes place.  I pray that we all take to heart the following record from Jeremiah and listen carefully to anything God has to say to us today in relation to it:

“This the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:  “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says; Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.

Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly,

If you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm

Then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

“Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known,

And then come and stand before me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things?

Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you?  But I have watching! Declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 7:1-11 NIV

If the last verse sounds familiar, it is because Jesus quoted it as he overturned the money-changers tables in the temple a few days before he was apprehended.  Things had not changed one bit by the time Jesus came and they have not changed since.  It is absolutely astounding the potpourri of wicked things people do; and still have the audacity to go to church and say “We are safe here because it’s the Lord’s House”.  Safe to do what?  All the detestable things mentioned in this section?

The Church is not a “safe house”.  It is not a place to run away from sin and hide in.   Just as people abused the temple, so people abuse the church today.  I am not just talking about physical buildings either.  I am talking about the Living Temple, the Church of believers, and the Body of Christ.  People cannot expect to live like the devil and then run to the fellowship of believers and pretend they are “holy” without God catching on.  Adam and Eve tried doing just that, and it did not work out too well for them.

“While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.

Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers.

I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.” 

Jeremiah 7:13-15

How truly sad it is to think that people would refuse to answer God’s call, and never consider listening to Him.  Even sadder is that God would become so “put out” with His people, their sin and their attitudes that He would destroy His temple and cast the people from His very presence.  Perhaps one of the most difficult verses in the Bible is verse 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.”

Does anyone really think God enjoyed telling Jeremiah to NOT pray for, offer a plea for or plead with God on behalf of His people?  Nothing could have hurt God more than to tell His prophet to not even bother praying for His people.  To think that they were so horribly perverted that prayer was not an option is indicative of their state of utter and total spiritual and moral corruption.  We know that one of the things a prophet was under obligation to do was to pray for and intercede on behalf of the people.  It must have broken Jeremiah’s heart to hear directly from God that his prayers would be a waste of his and God’s time.

God forbid we ever sink to the point where God would tell us that prayer in no longer available.  God forbid His people become so wicked in their hearts that it is impossible for them to repent.  God forbid that God has to destroy His house to chase out the rats that have defiled and corrupted it.  We don’t want to see these things happen, but we know they have already begun, and will only get worse as “The End” draws nearer. 

May we all remain faithful and more than willing to listen to and answer God when He calls us.  May we never be found guilty of hiding our sins in the “safe house” of the Lord’s temple.  None of us want to be told the horrible news; prayers are no longer accepted.  God forbid/ Let it not become so.

     

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