COURAGEOUS INTERCESSION FOR THE UNREPENTANT
God want us to be heartbroken over the sin of others in our lives who claim His name but refuse to repent.
He calls us to intercede on their behalf. He calls us to stand in the gap and do for them what they are not even willing to do for themselves.
One of the most loving things you can ever do for an unrepentant person is to pray for their repentance.
It takes great courage to pray for an unrepentant friend, family member, or love one over a long period of time. And as we see in Jeremiah’s life, it took its toll on him as it will us.
How do we courageously intercede for the unrepentant?
Because of Israel’s sin and refusal to repent, a drought is on its way to judge them. Jeremiah mentions it in Jeremiah 14:1, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought”
Jeremiah intercedes on behalf of Israel’s sin and unrepentance for relief in Jeremiah 14:7 “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you.”
Who in your life needs you to pray this for them? Unfortunately, the people Jeremiah prayed this for were not willing to listen and were not willing to turn to God and repent. Jeremiah then addresses what comes next because of their obstinance in Jeremiah 14:10, “Thus says the Lord concerning this people: “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.”
God is a grace filled God, but grace can’t be applied to an unrepentant heart. Sometimes God has to withdraw His hand from us and silence our prayers for others to get their attention. He loves us that much. He tells Jeremiah in 14:11, “The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them.”
Why would the Lord not receive their acts of worship? Because they refused to repent.
God told Jeremiah not to pray for their welfare, but Jeremiah responds in Jeremiah 14:20, “We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you. 21 Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;”
Like Jeremiah, I want to encourage you to keep fighting for people’s repentance even if they won’t.
God responds to Jeremiah’s tenacity to pray for the unrepentant in Israel in Jeremiah 15:1, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people.”
The Lord tells Jeremiah even the best intercessors, like Moses and Samuel, couldn’t change his mind.
In the midst of God deciding to judge the unrepentant, Jeremiah as the intercessor says to God in Jeremiah 15:10, “Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.”
Jeremiah is now expressing that he is being attacked by those he has been praying for to repent. This is the other side of the coin of intercession.
Jeremiah cries out to God about this and says in Jeremiah 15:15, “O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.”
Like Jeremiah, while you intercede for the unrepentant, ask God to protect you while you fight for others.
God responds to Jeremiah in 15:19, “Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, if you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth.”
Strangely enough, when we pray for the unrepentant, if we are not careful, their attacks on us can cause us to become like them to protect ourselves from them.
What we see in Jeremiah 15:19-21 is Jeremiah’s fears and the hardness of the situation is starting to get the best of him. He is turning on God.
See, when you take on interceding for someone else’s sin, it can harden you.
Jeremiah deeply cared about Israel repenting and it seems like he was starting to feel like he cared more than God.
Ask God to keep you from becoming like those you pray for.
God speaks to Jeremiah again in Jeremiah 16:1, “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. 4 They shall die of deadly diseases.”
It is important for you to expect and know that the harshness of others unrepentance will impact you. We see this in Jeremiah’s life. Jeremiah couldn’t get married and have kids because the people he was interceding for wouldn’t listen to God. That screams unfair doesn’t?
When we intercede for others who refuse to repent it can harshly impact us as well.
But don’t lose hope in the midst of interceding, God says to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 16:14, “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord. 15a For I will bring back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.
As you stare at unrepentant sin in another’s life, you will be tempted to join them.
Instead like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 17:14 pray, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. 15 Behold, they say to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come!” 16 I have not run away from being your shepherd,”
Don’t run away from the burdens you carry for others who refuse to repent. It is a noble cause. Press into those prayers and trust Him to bring them back.