‘’A nation which is beyond the power of prayer is in a bad way indeed.’ A.E. Cundall.
Yesterday we heard Jeremiah praying for his people, but it was a prayer God would not answer. Moses and Samuel were known to be effective intercessors (1; see Psalm 99:6-8; Exodus 32:11-14, 30-32; 1 Samuel 7:8, 9). But even they would not be able change this situation. (We should not miss the inference, however, that under normal circumstances intercessors can and do make a difference. ‘’History belongs to the intercessors.’’ Walter Wink. )
To my mind, ‘’no longer’’ is a key phrase in (1-9). The nation had passed the point of no return. They had not lacked opportunities to ‘change their ways’ (7b), but they had failed to take them. It didn’t have to end this way. But it was going to because they had persisted in their rejection of God and backsliding (6). The Lord laid a major part of the blame for Judah’s plight on the wicked King Manesseh (4), who was the grandfather of the godly Josiah (see 2 Kings 21:1-16; 23:26, 27).
In an excellent book, ‘AHA’, Kyle Idleman ,the author, quotes this old saying:
‘’Sin will always take you farther than you want to go.
Sin will always cost you more than you want to pay.
Sin will always keep you longer than you want to stay.’’
He goes on to say: ‘’Scripture doesn’t minimize the consequences of sin. We repeatedly see just how seriously God takes it. In the Old Testament, when God wanted to warn the people that destruction was coming, He would most often send a prophet. The prophet would confront the people with the truth of where things were heading. The people would frequently minimize the prophet’s message. Instead of repenting and turning back to God, they would continue down the same path. But when the people were brutally honest and repented of their sin, God would respond with compassion and grace.’’ p.127.
Sadly, Jeremiah’s contemporaries stayed in the place of minimisation and did not progress to brutal honesty and repentance.
Idleman goes on to say: ‘’There’s a temptation to avoid using words like sin, sinner, hell, and punishment. But as I write this, I am convicted once again that perhaps one of the reasons people minimize sin is because preachers don’t seem to take it seriously.’’ P.128.
But the above comment was not true of Jeremiah. He faithfully told it like it was. He laid it on the line, and he paid a very high price for it, as we shall see.
Prayer: Lord keep me faithful. May I never change my ‘shape’ to be moulded to the world and what it wants to hear.