141 – DOESN’T GOD HEAR SINNERS?
Does God hear the prayers of all men, or only of a few? If the Bible declares that all are alike, God should hear the prayers of all, or of no one. Let us consider this: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom.3:10).
But on the contrary, a man blind from birth whom Jesus healed, said: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if any one is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31).According to this statement, prayer is heard according to merit. It would be similar to a king that allows only high authorities in his audiences. His guard keeps the simple people and the outcasts away. Are the graduates alone allowed to get to God? Let us look at some of the prophetic utterances of the god of the Old Testament. “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you. Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of bloodshed” (Is.1:15). In addition to this, the prophet Isaiah says: “‘Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight, Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ says Jehovah” (Is.1:16-18). According to this text of Isaiah, only the righteous ones have access to Jehovah, the god of the old covenant. David stated in agreement to this: “If I regard wickedness in my heart, Jehovah will not hear” (Ps.66:18). And David, Jehovah’s beloved, when he committed an abominable adultery (for while his friend Uriah the Hittite, one of his thirty-seven valiant men, was busy with the things of the kingdom, he seduced Bathsheba, his wife); Jehovah did not hear him (2 Sam.12:9-19). Jehovah declared the following by the mouth of Solomon: “Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof; I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm, and your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come on you. THEN THEY WILL CALL ON ME, BUT I WILL NOT ANSWER; THEY WILL SEEK ME DILIGENTLY. BUT THEY SHALL NOT FIND ME” (Prov.1:23-28). King Saul found himself outside Jehovah’s good graces for disobeying him, and was not heard in his time of need. “When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul enquired of Jehovah, Jehovah did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets” (1 Sam.28:5-6). After four hundred and fifty years, counting from king Saul, in the year six hundred before Christ, the kingdom of the Jews was corrupt, and Jeremiah was one of the prophets. Let us read what Jehovah declared by his mouth: “As for you, 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).Jeremiah, though, was a man of prayer, and persevered day and night interceding for his people. Jehovah told him, then: “‘A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I have made with their fathers.’ Therefore thus says Jehovah, ‘Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; THOUGH THEY WILL CRY TO ME, YET I WILL NOT LISTEN TO THEM” (Jer.11:9-11). Then Jehovah rebuked Jeremiah a second time, saying: “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster” (Jer.11:14).
A strange thing about the justice of Jehovah is that good is reversible, but evil is irreversible. “If it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says Jehovah, ‘Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you.” (Jer.18:10-11). When Jehovah prescribed the curses of the law, he said that he would send them until the transgressors were completely destroyed (Deut. 28:20-28, 45,48,61,63). In verse 63, Jehovah confesses his delight in destroying. Since the prayers of the unrighteous and transgressors are an abomination to Jehovah, he forbids the righteous to intercede for the wicked (Jer.14:11). Jehovah placates his fury by destroying ones against the others, the fathers against their children (Jer.13:14).
The prayers of wicked sinners are an abomination to Jehovah (Jer.28:9).
Jesus descended from heaven to earth in order to reveal the true nature of God to men. When Jesus says: “I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE” (John 10:30), Jesus is revealing by it that God, the Father, if he came down to the earth, would do the works that Jesus did, and would speak the words that Jesus spoke (John 12:49-50; 14:10-11). “For the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them” (John 17:8). “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” (John 10:32). Jesus ate with Publicans and sinners (Luke 7:34). And he said that the Publicans and the harlots would enter into heaven even before the religious men of his time(Matt.21:31). It is surprising that those that Jehovah destroys are the ones that Jesus came to save. “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt.9:13).
Jehovah ordered that all the Canaanites were killed (Josh.11:20). But Jesus heard the prayer of a Canaanite woman for his daughter who was demonized. The Canaanites were accursed of Jehovah, but Jesus delivered the girl, moved by compassion (Matt.15:21-28). Jesus went to eat in the house of a Pharisee named Simon. The family was at the table when a woman came in and washed the feet of the Lord with tears, and dried them with her hair; she kissed his feet and anointed them with a precious perfume. Simon thought: If this were a prophet, he would know that this woman is a prostitute. Jesus, knowing his thoughts, said to him: “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:36-48). Jesus hears the lost ones, and the Father does, also, for Jesus did, and still does, the works of the Father (John 14:10-11).Jesus and the Father hear the ones whom Jehovah did not hear. The most exuberant incident we find in the New Testament is in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. Both went to pray in the temple. The Pharisee, standing, silently prayed with himself: “‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterous, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (Luke 18:11-13). The Publican, humble sinner, went away justified from the temple, but the proud Pharisee did not go away justified. Jehovah would never listen the sinner, because he would be offended at such a prayer (Prov.28:9; 15:8). And there are people who say that Jesus did not wish to denounce Jehovah.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira