When Preaching Trumps Praying

The editor of a small weekly newspaper in a town in the West was hard put one week for copy to fill his columns. So he had his compositor set up the Ten Commandments, and ran them without making any editorial comment. Three days after the paper was published he received a l … More


God’s admonition to Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people,” is the result of serious rebellion on their part (v. 16). They are seen worshiping false gods and making sacrifices to them. God commanded that prayer cease, but that preaching continue. If you read through the Scriptures you see that prayer delays judgment, but preaching hastens it. And what this nation needed to restore it and heal it was judgment. So God said, “Don’t delay it; don’t hold me back. This is what will do the work. Radical surgery is all that is left, so stop praying.” When a nation decays, it begins in the home and God saw whole families in Jerusalem working together to worship idols (vv. 17-19). The term “queen of heaven” (v. 18) reflects an ancient cult tradition extending throughout the Orient. This pagan immorality was having a devastating effect on their children and God would send a judgment that would destroy the land, the city, the temple and the people of Judah. They had set up idols in the temple and outside the city they had built the high places. They even practiced child sacrifice, burning their sons and daughters in the fire (II Kings 21:6; II Chron. 33:6).

The nations’ sin had progressed to the point where Jeremiah’s pleas were futile. Judah was so engrossed in her sin that she was the cause of great sorrow, not only to the prophet, but also to God.

The scene changes from the temple to the streets (v. 17), and more specifically to each house of the Israelite families. Instead of worshiping God everyone was showing their devotion to the “Queen of Heaven” which was probably Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. The children gathered wood, the fathers kindled the fire, and the women kneaded dough to make cakes for the queen (v. 18). Added to this worship were the drink offerings (usually wine) to other gods. The burning anger of God would not be quenched until the place had been destroyed (vv. 19-20).


When rebellion is evident it is a time for me to stop praying and start preaching.

Jeremiah 7:16-20 (English Standard Version)

""As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. Is it I whom they provoke? declares the LORD. Is it not themselves, to their own shame? Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »