Summary: God holds all mankind to account. All face judgement, and some are judged now. When God judges individuals and even communities, He informs His people, saying, "Don't pray for them!"

“Thus says the LORD concerning this people [Israel]:

‘They have loved to wander thus;

they have not restrained their feet;

therefore, the LORD does not accept them;

now he will remember their iniquity

and punish their sins.’

“The LORD said to me: ‘Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.’” [1]

Have you ever experienced a time when the Lord discouraged you from praying for someone? I’m not referring to those times when you just didn’t want to pray for some individual. Perhaps you were disgusted with the choices an individual made and you just refused to pray for them. Or perhaps someone was so obnoxious that you just couldn’t bring yourself to pray for her, even though you knew she desperately needed someone to care. It is even possible that someone was so hateful that you wanted them to be punished, so you would not pray for that person. In the message before us, however, we are confronting instances when you want to pray for someone, and God seems to debar you from praying for them. It’s as though God said, “Fuggedaboutit!” Jeremiah had just such an experience. He had prayed for the nation, and God at last told him, “Enough! Don’t bother praying for them!”

The title of the message forces us to acknowledge a startling, even a terrifying, aspect of prayer. We are told that there is a point beyond which God will no longer accept prayer on behalf of some people. While it is true that God’s love extends to the farthest reaches of the earth, being extended to the most vile person we could ever imagine, there is a point when God says, “Don’t pray for them! I am determined to do them harm, and not good. Nothing can change my mind; so don’t bother praying for them.” People can reach a point when God says, “Let them go.” The possibility is frightening, pointing as it does to a point when individuals, even nations and cultures, can never again know divine mercy.

Preachers used to warn against “crossing the deadline.” They were speaking of moving beyond a point that is unknowable to us, but a point when God says, “I’m washing my hands of you. You’ve gone too far, and now you will pay the price eternally.” Perhaps such a sin was in view when the Lord Jesus warned, “I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” [MATTHEW 12:31-32]. We see this theme even in the latter books of the Word. John writes, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that” [1 JOHN 5:16].

At the very least, it is obvious that there are sins that God warns will trigger judgement. That judgement which God reveals is not judgement restricted to some future date—this judgement is presently exercised! The implication is that such judgement may be more prevalent than we could imagine. God tells us that praying for sinning people who are determined to ignore Him and His revealed will shall not alter what He must do. Pleading for these people will not move the hand of God. When an individual exalts her will above the will of God, the Lord God is quite clear that He will not accept the pleas of His people to alter judgement.

I purpose to explore what could possibly cause God to say, “Enough! Don’t pray for that person any longer.” It is not apparent that the follower of the Christ will recognise that point of no return occurring in another’s life, but when God speaks it will become apparent that He will no longer receive our pleas on behalf of another.

We Christians are designated as “a holy priesthood,” even called “a royal priesthood.” Peter says of us who follow the Risen Saviour, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” [1 PETER 2:4-5].

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