07 July 2009

Pray For Us – 7.7.09

Jeremiah 37:3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the LORD our God for us.

Again, you know the setting. Judah is in trouble. By this point, 3 of the 4 deportations (to Babylon) have taken place. Zedekiah has been set up as king, and the Chaldean army is camped just outside the city walls.

On the surface, what's recorded in this verse looks like a good move by King Zedekiah, and while I'm certainly in favor of seeking the prayers of God's people, I do have some problems with his prayer request – especially when I read the preceding verse…But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.

First of all, if the king and the people of Judah had heeded the warnings of God's prophets and spent some time in prayer themselves, they never would have made it to where they were (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).

Secondly, it'd be different if Zedekiah asked for prayer in the spirit of confession and repentance. But he's not asking the prophet to help him right his wrong relationship with God. He's telling Jeremiah to ask God to take away the consequences. (See Saul in 1 Samuel 15:10-31 and Simon in Acts 8:9-24 for a couple similar examples.)

Thirdly, there really wasn't anything to pray about. Jeremiah had already told the king and the people what God said they should do in their situation. Continually Jeremiah repeated the message. "Don't fight. Don't flee to Egypt. Submit to the king of Babylon. You'll be there 70 years, and God will bring you back." No amount of prayer by Jeremiah was going to change that message.

Now, all this happened somewhere around 600BC, but it's amazing how up to date and relevant God's book continues to be. When we find ourselves in trouble, by all means let's ask God's people to pray, but let's make sure we're not just looking for an easy out – especially when the trouble is of our own doing. Let's repent of what got us in the mess we find ourselves in and go on in obedience to the instruction God has already given. Amen.

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