Jeremiah starts out chapter nine with a powerful analogy; “Oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears.” He was so broken hearted over the sinful practices of the people around him that he wept. In effect, he was publically declaring, “I do not care that you think it isn’t manly to cry over other peoples sins. I want you to realize how holy it is to do so! Notice how he wants everyone to know what he is feeling inside. Not only is he feeling deep remorse and intense emotional pain, but also he wants to try to share his sorrow with everyone else by using word pictures. Perhaps they might realize not only what their “wrongdoing” was, but also “how” wrong in the eyes of a Holy God “the wrong” was.
Next Jeremiah declared, “Oh that I had in the desert a wayfarers’ lodging place; That I might leave my people and go from them! For all of them are adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. 9:2 (NKJV) In other words what the prophet Jeremiah was saying was “I have been prophesying God’s word for all this time and none of you have repented! No one has changed a bit! You are all living in adultery. If I had a nice cabin somewhere at some desert oasis I would just leave all of you and go there!”
The sins that the children of Israel were participating in were extreme to the utmost degree. Because they were steeped in idolatry they even offered up their children in human sacrifice to demonic deities. They had forsaken the instruction of Moses to not mingle with the heathen nations around them, nor worship their gods. However, they were doing exactly what Moses had warned them not to do.
What sin however, had Jeremiah prophesying with such great fervor and intensity? Was it murder? Was it rape? Was it child molestation or something we might think of as the sickest of the sick when it comes to sin. Nope! It was adultery, the sin that hardly anyone even blushes about anymore, the sin that has made Hollywood’s filmmakers billions of dollars in ticket sales. Jeremiah declared that the country was full of the sin of adultery; everyone was committing adultery. It was making him so grievous that he was weeping continually and copiously. He just wanted to bail on the whole bunch of them!
Have you ever noticed that true men and women of God seem to be troubled by the smallest of sins, or at least sins, which seem small to us? Could it be that as they study the Bible and seek the Lord every day that by living close to Him, what troubles Him might just trouble them? Perhaps they might just be able to sense and feel what grieves the Spirit of God? If they are at a party and the booze starts flowing, or the dirty jokes start flying, while everyone else is laughing and having a good old time, you will notice that their faces are noticeably saddened! I believe that this was Jeremiah’s burden. I believe that because he lived so close to God the sin that surrounded him everywhere affected him so much that it broke his heart.
As we read on in the book of Jeremiah, do we find that he does flee to a “get away” resort in the desert somewhere? No instead he continues to pray, conversing with God and uncompromisingly declaring to the people of Israel the strong words and warnings given him by the Lord. It is during one of those exchanges of thoughts that God gives Jeremiah a seemingly unusual directive in verses 17,18 and verse 20 of chapter 9; “Thus says the LORD of hosts; Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for skillful wailing women, That they may come. Let them make haste and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run with tears, and our eyelids gush with water. “ Yet hear the word of the Lord, O women, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth; teach your daughters wailing and everyone her neighbor a lamentation.”(NKJV)
For centuries, women have made up a majority of the people who pray at any church. Due to their God given motherly instincts, women’s hearts are typically more tender than men’s. When they are committed to God’s holiness, they are generally more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and more able to hear God’s still small voice. I believe that in this moment in America, God is speaking to women across this nation to hear the intercessory call of Jeremiah to pray with great intensity, even with lamentation, weeping and wailing. God delights in the prayers of such intensity. Hebrews 11:6b declares, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”(NKJV)
I clearly remember the first time I stepped into an interfaith prayer meeting. In the church that I grew up in, you could have heard a pin drop during a prayer meeting. However, in this Sunday night meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, the prayers sounded just like Jeremiah describes. Loud cries were going up to God from that place. Ironically, it was mostly ladies present. I listened as they prayed with everything they had. I heard the sound of groaning. I heard loud rebukes instructing the devil to take his hands off that city, in Jesus name! In addition in the middle of it all, I also heard worship and thanksgiving. All that I remember thinking was, “Wow this is beautiful, and so real!”
Ladies, America sure could use some “real” praying right now! What is God’s calling in this hour? God even said, “Ladies, teach your daughters how to pray like this!” Women of God you know what to do! If you just get started, then it’s likely the men will follow! Every revival in history was birthed following great seasons of prayer!
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.