May 31, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Lamentation”

Jeremiah 7:16, 27–29

16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.

27 “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction; truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth. 29 ‘Cut off your hair and cast it away, And take up a lamentation on the bare heights; For the Lord has rejected and forsaken The generation of His wrath.’ 

It seems as if we can’t go very long without hearing about another shooting at a school. It seems like everyday we turn on the news, we hear about tragedies overseas as well as right here in our own backyards. Every time I see a new headline, a heaviness comes upon me, wondering how much longer such things will continue.

We didn’t address it in yesterday’s quiet time, but the words of verse 16 are quite shocking to the reader. God is commanding Jeremiah to not intercede on behalf of the people. He will not be heard. The actions of Judah are so grave that God is no longer willing to listen to Jeremiah’s pleas. Furthermore, in verse 27, God tells Jeremiah that even when he speaks the words judgment from God, the people will not listen. It makes sense why Jeremiah is called the Weeping Prophet.

As I meditated on this passage and how grim everything seems, I felt the Lord speak in a surprising way. Despite commanding Jeremiah to no longer intercede on behalf of the people, God used this passage to remind me the power of intercession. We see clear example of how God responds to the pleas of His people (see Abraham’s intercession in Gen. 18; Moses’ intercession in Ex. 33) in a way that is truly remarkable and beyond our comprehension.

The call of the church is to intercede on behalf of a fallen world. The call is to intercede now before it is too late. We are called to lament the gravity of sin that continues to destroy our world now and for the future. We must lament the inaction of the church in the face of injustice and sin. God has endowed upon His children the wonderful privilege of being able to do so—to intercede on behalf of a broken world.

I am reminded of a story I heard at the School of Evangelism when I went to OTR on missions. The speaker was sharing about how he went to the Middle East, saw a man on the street, and was convicted to pray for Him. Later that day, he had a dream where God came to him and said that he was the first person to bring that man before His throne.

Whether it’s for individuals, circumstances, or this world—may we be a people who intercede and lament over things that no others may have brought before the throne of God.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the unique privilege as Your children to be able to intercede and lament over a broken world. Too often we are swept up by the things of our own lives that we forget the pain and suffering of people, especially those who do not know You. Forgive us. Open our eyes. Break our hearts. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Nehemiah 1.1-11.

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6 let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ 10 They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.” Now I was the cupbearer to the king.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was happening to the people of Judah and Jerusalem?
  2. What is Nehemiah’s immediate response? What do you notice about Nehemiah’s prayers?
  3. Now if you read the rest of the book, we know that God uses Nehemiah greatly to restore what remains of Judah and Jerusalem. How is the example of Nehemiah, his intercession and lamentation over his people, challenging you?

Notes:

  1. Nehemiah was in Susa, the capital of the Babylonian empire. He was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes. What he heard is the grim condition of those who had survived and returned from exile to Jerusalem. The condition of the walls of Jerusalem is significant in that the wall of a city, both practically and symbolically, represented the stability of a city—in other words, Jerusalem/Judah were in serious trouble.
  1. Nehemiah’s immediate response is to mourn and fast, seeking the face of God, asking for discernment in such a hopeless situation. A few things to note about his prayer:
    1. He does not question the character of God. Despite what was happening, he trusts in the goodness of God.
    2. He confesses the sin of his people. He acknowledges their failure to uphold His commands.
    3. He reminds God of His promises that if His people return in repentance, he has faith that God is faithful to His words and promises
    4. He heeds to the call to action.
  1. Personal reflection. Perhaps at the heart of our lamentation and intercession is the understanding that God may use us as the answer to our intercession. In interceding, there is an inherent obedience to however way God may answer our prayers. Are you prepared to heed that calling?

Evening Reflection

As you have gone throughout the day, being reminded of the unique calling as God’s children to intercede, what things has the Spirit brought to your remembrance? How is God calling you to pray, and perhaps, obey in light of these things? Spend some time surrendering yourself to the will of God, trusting in His goodness and faithfulness.

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