Jeremiah (Part 4), the Prophet who was told not to pray

“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.  Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger.  But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?

  • Jeremiah 7:16-19

 

Picture yourself in Jeremiah’s shoes.  He is the prophet of doom.  He’d like to give the people some hope.  Maybe he could plead with the people to repent.  If they repented, as they had done in the past, maybe God’s anger would slacken.  God is the God of Love, after all.

 

A few of the kings had plead for the people.  Each time, repentance was required.  One king of note, Hezekiah, had plead for the people and God had promised him more life as king.  His last lament was that there would be peace and security in his lifetime. (2 Kings 20:19)  There would be seven kings after Hezekiah before God had seen enough.  Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, was bad, but repented.  The only good king after that was Josiah who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but even he made mistakes.

 

With all of this going on, God wants you (looking through Jeremiah’s eyes) to take bad news to the king.  Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid the king and pray for repentance or redemption?  Then you could take good news to the king, “King, if the people will repent, happy days…”

 

No, God says do not pray for these people.  There will be no last hour call from the governor.  The executioner will carry out the sentence.  Justice will be served.  Then, God will deal with the executioner even more severely.

 

If your choice would be the same as that of Jeremiah, you would probably get the same response.

 

In Jeremiah 26, Jeremiah is threatened with death.  In Jeremiah 36, the king burns Jeremiah’s scroll.  This scroll contained the message that Jeremiah had gotten directly from God.  In Jeremiah 37, Jeremiah wants to leave Jerusalem after the Babylonians have withdrawn.  Jeremiah wanted to check on property in the territory of Benjamin, but he was stopped and imprisoned for ‘desertion.’  In Jeremiah 38, Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern.  When Jeremiah was chained and could not write, he had his secretary, Baruch, take dictation.

 

Yet, in spite of all of the hardships inflicted by the people of Jerusalem against him, Jeremiah would have prayed for them.  He did not want to see them suffer.

 

Yet, the people continued to worship things made by human hands.  They even worked to prepare cakes to be served to the ‘Queen of Heaven.’

 

The Queen of Heaven?  That got me to thinking.  I heard of a denomination that passed down a rule that when baptizing, you had to mention ‘a’ Trinity.  They were making the male-centric language of the Bible ‘optional’ for something less ‘offensive.’  You could be baptized in the name of the Mother, Daughter, and Holy Spiritess, if you wanted.

 

Yoohoo!  Are you listening?  Jessica didn’t die as an atonement for our sins, Jesus did.

 

Is the change in policy due to a reaction to the Women’s Liberation movement (Equal pay for equal work?  All for it.) or a reaction to “don’t offend anybody” movement (The cross was offensive.  Get over this new fad.)?  Does it matter?  If we are offended by the gender, or simply the gender word, of God, it means that we are offended by God.  Any internal battle between the sexes stems from sin and the Devil.  We might not make a god out of wood or stone, but we have altered the image of a god that we’ve made in our own minds.  It is a god that we can control.  While we are at it, let’s call it the ‘Queen of Heaven.’

 

Are we any different than the people of Jeremiah’s time?  No, not at all.

 

But, it is not too late.  At least, I hope and pray for the next generation.  We can repent.  We can pray for God to save us and our nation.

 

But don’t wait.  God has prepared the day of the return of Jesus.  He’s coming.

 

 

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