Jeremiah’s warnings of judgment were finally coming to pass. Nebuchadnezzar surrounded Jerusalem. His armies would soon attack Judah, destroy the holy city, and take the people into Babylonian Captivity. Jeremiah was in prison. He had counseled Judah’s king to surrender Nebuchadnezzar. Defeat was inevitable. The prophet was arrested for treason for telling the truth. Jeremiah 33:1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard.”
- God is good all the time.
- God is at his best when things are at their worst.
In this moment of crisis, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. It was the second time God spoke to Jeremiah during his imprisonment. In Jeremiah 32, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah about a real estate deal. The Lord told the prophet that a relative would ask him to buy a piece of land. It happened! And Jeremiah purchased the property. The land acquisition was a divine guarantee the people of God would inhabit the land again after the Babylonian Captivity. Jeremiah 32:16-17 reads: “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord saying: ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”
In Jeremiah 33, God spoke to Jeremiah again. Before giving instructions, the Lord reintroducedhimself in verse 2: “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it – the Lord is his name.” God speaks on the authority of his nature and works.
- Who is God? The Lord is his name.
- What has God done? He has made, formed, and established the earth.
After flexing his sovereign muscles in verse 2, God stretches out his loving arms in verse 3: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” You receive an important phone call that you miss. You try to call back. But the number is blocked. This scenario is never the Christian’s dilemma. God has given his unblocked number to those who trust Christ.
Why pray? Jeremiah 33:3 gives three reasons to pray.
God Commands Prayer.
Verse 3 says, “Call to me.” This is not a suggestion, invitation, or recommendation. It is a divine mandate. God commands us to call to him. Has someone ever given you their business card unsolicited? A person you just met suddenly gives you their card and tells you to contact them. You take the card knowing you will never call. That is not what we have here. The Lord gives us his card and commands us to call to him.
- Prayer is the creature’s submission to the Creator’s authority.
- Prayer is the children’s obedience to the Father’s command.
- Prayer is the servant’s devotion to the Master’s pleasure.
This call to prayer is more about the character of God than it is about the authority of God. Believing prayer does not invoke God’s goodness. God’s goodness invokes believer prayer. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy.”The sovereign God graciously bids you call on him in prayer. The Coronavirus vaccine is available. Yet there is vaccination hesitancy the authorities cannot overcome. God exercises his divine authority to compel us to come to him in prayer for the help we need.
This divine command is a gracious privilege. God is not obligated to permit us to call on him. Because we are sinful, we do not deserve to have an audience before God’s throne. Jeremiah 7:16 says, “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede for them, for I will not hear you.” There are times when God will not listen.
- God does not hear unrepentant sinners.
- God does not hear selfish requests.
- God does not hear doubt-filled petitions.
Because of our sinfulness, God should never hear us. Yet, in his mercy and grace, God commands us to call on him. As this is a statement about how good God is, it is also a statement about how bad we are. We need to be commanded to pray. Many times, we do not call. Many times, we do not call to him. Every failure in life is a failure to pray. We do not pray because of the weakness of our flesh. We do not pray because of the worldliness of our mindset. We do not pray because of the wickedness of our enemy. Satan will not try to convince you prayer doesn’t work. He will try to convince you it will not work in your situation. The devil is a liar! Call on the Lord in prayer!
God Answers Prayer.
Verse 3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you.” The divine command is wedded to a divine promise. This is the typical tone in which the word of God speaks about prayer. God does not command us to pray and threaten grave consequences if we fail to obey. God commands us to pray and guarantees wonderful blessings if we heed his call.The God who commands us to pray promises to answer our prayers. Verse 2 does not say God will hear. The hearing is assumed, the answer is assured.
God answers prayer! The Bible declares God answers prayer. Scripture is littered with evidence that God answers prayer. If you do not believe prayer works, you do not believe the Bible is true. The crossdeclares God answers prayer. The atoning blood of Jesus is the data plan of prayer. And it will never lose its power! Romans 8:32 asks, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
There is proof beyond the Bible and the cross that God answers prayer: You! If you are a true Christian, you are a living testimony that God answers prayer. It is how you were saved. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Prayer is the womb of the Christian’s new birth. Prayer is the strength of the Christian’s new life.
I do not believe you are a genuine Christian if you do not have a testimony and track record of answered prayer. If you have seen the goodness, power, and wisdom of God at work, call on God with even greater confidence that he will hear and answer prayer.
Does God always answer prayer? Yes, God always answers. But God does not always answer yes. No is an answer to prayer. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Your prayer does not have to be sinful or selfish for God to answer no. And don’t assume the answer will automatically yes because it is sincere or spiritual. The Holy Spirit blocked Paul’s attempts to preach in Mysia. The Lord planned for Paul to preach Macedonia. There is a strategic yesembedded in every providential no. Wait is also an answer to prayer. Because it is God’s will does not mean it is God’s timing. Do not run away from God’s will in rebellion. Do not run ahead of God’s will in impatience. Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
God Encourages Prayer.
God commands us to pray. Then God promises to answer. The verse should end there. There is nothing else that needs to be said. But God is not finished talking. The God who promises that he will answer prescribes how he will answer. Verse 3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
We have a problem. Verse 3 says there are things we do not know. Confession should not just be a part of prayers of repentance. It should be a part of every prayer. There are things we do not know intellectually. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” There are things we do not know experientially. We may believe it. But we have not seen it. Ephesians 3:20 says: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”
God says he will show you great and hidden things that you have not known. This assurance was given to the prophet Jeremiah. It is recorded here because it was for Judah, not just Jeremiah. It is also for you and me. God is Lord over what is “great.” William Carey wrote: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” This is why you should pray about it. God is able to do great things. Jeremiah 32:27says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” God is Lord over what is “hidden.” The KJV uses the term “mighty.” The Hebrew term means “fenced in.” It was used of fortified citiesthat were considered impenetrable. It does not matter who has you locked in or locked out. God can handle hidden things.
- If you are unsaved, Jeremiah 33:3 God’s unblocked number to call him for salvation.
- If you are saved, Jeremiah 33:3 is God’s unblocked number to call on him for anything and everything you need.
In 2 Kings 4, a wife of one of the sons of the prophets came to Elisha for help. Her husband had died. And his creditors had come to take her two sons as slaves. Elisha asked what the widow had in her house. She only had a jar of oil. The prophet instructed her to her neighbors and borrow as many empty pots as she could get. Then go into the house and start pouring. When all the pots were full, the oil stopped flowing. She went to tell Elisha what happened. And the prophet told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts, and live on the rest. God’s supply is greater than your need. Put your pots out!