I have a lot of pity for Jeremiah. He knew the Lord well, well enough to hear his voice and explicitly understand what he wanted Jeremiah to say. He also knew what the near-future outcome was for his people since they refused to listen to the Lord’s instruction. This had to be a painful position in which to find himself–knowing that destruction was coming on everything he knew and everyone he held dear, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Not only was there nothing Jeremiah could do, he was forbidden to do the one thing that may have helped–pray. In this verse, God specifically says to Jeremiah:
As for you, don’t pray for these people, don’t cry out or plead for them, and don’t intercede with me, for I won’t listen to you.
That shows the depths of the sin and rebellion of the people of Judah at that time. Do not even pray for them! Wow.
Realizing that the Bible really is good news, the good news takeaway from this for us today is that no matter how dark we may think our society is now, we are not so bad that the Lord has told his followers not to pray for our countries and those in them. This means there is still hope, possibility for repentance, and the ability for the Good News of God’s love, forgiveness, and sacrifice to be spread throughout the lands.
Unlike Jeremiah, we have not been told not to pray. We can still make a difference in people’s lives through prayer. God has not given up on our cultures and societies, so we ought not as well. We pray for our friends and families, and we are called to pray for our enemies as well. It just may turn out that some of those who hate us, for whom we prayed, may become friends and family. God works in mysterious ways.