Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pray No More

                                                                                                 Tuesday, August 23, 2016
“Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah.  Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you.  Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  No wonder I am so angry!  Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires.  See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven.  And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods!  Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord.  “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”  So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place.  Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”  This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves!  When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them.  This is what I told them:  ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people.  Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’  “But my people would not listen to me.  They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts.  They went backward instead of forward.  From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out.  But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear.  They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.  Jeremiah 7:16-26(NLT)  

My mother had a soft, nurturing way.  She was the kind of person that would rather be hurt by someone’s unkind words or actions than to ever cause a ruckus.  I inherited some of that…but probably not enough! 

As a young child, I took advantage of my Mom’s good nature more than once.  If I didn’t get what I wanted I’d whine until Mom would find a way to make me happy.  It was worse when I became a young teen.  I recall one time especially when my whining over wanting to go somewhere against Mom’s better judgment, had pushed her to the limit; she finally blurted out, O.K., do what you want!

That was the envelope being pushed to the point of Russell spilling-out through the broken seams.  I remember thinking, uh-oh…what just happened?  I was almost a bit afraid that I had gotten my way; it felt eerie and somehow like I had wrecked something.

Which is the way you’re supposed to feel when you’ve blown it (big time) with the one who loves you more than anyone else in the world, and you’ve pushed that person away like a discarded old shoe.

This is exactly how Israel had acted towards God, and the LORD told Jeremiah to tell his treasured nation just exactly what Mom told me…go ahead…do it your way…I’m done!  And He told Jeremiah to quit praying for them – they needed judgment to straighten out their disobedient and arrogant ways!

I grew up in a church tradition where America was constantly compared to Israel.  We, America in general, and the New Testament church in particular were the New Israel.  Well, it’s not a bad comparison, and you could do worse damage to theological systems.  But mostly it was second-chance thinking; Old Israel had blown it, and now this New Israel has another shot at getting it right. 

Question of the day is:  Have we even come close?

For You Today

It would be way above my pay grade to tell you not to pray for America anymore because of our national, cultural sins.  But I sense it’s necessary to say it seems like we’re dangerously close to it.  

So let me put it this way:  if you’re predisposed to pray for your country, it would be a good move to step on it; who knows how much time is left?

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image:  Vittore Carpaccio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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