CLAIM: God tells Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you” (Jer. 7:16). Does this verse condone not praying for sinful people?
RESPONSE: Since God knows the future, he knows that the people will not repent—whether or not Jeremiah prays for them. Later, in verse 27, he tells Jeremiah, “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you.” The problem isn’t with God or with Jeremiah; the problem is with the people. God had already given them adequate chance to turn and repent, but they refused. God already told Jeremiah, “I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer” (Jer. 7:13). God isn’t insecure that the people worshipped other gods, but rather, he hates this because it hurts them. He says, “They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking? …Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?” (Jer. 7:18-19 NIV). Verse 31 explains that the people were committing infanticide by building altars to other gods in order “to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.”