‘Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,’ declares the Lord GOD. (Ez. 14:13-14).
Ezekiel is also told that the nation will not be spared, in fact, that the greatest saint – and three are mentioned: Noah, Daniel and Job – could not, by righteousness, prevent the exile. All they could expect would be their own deliverance, but not that of others (Ezekiel 14:14-26).
Fellowship with God carried the promise of answers to prayer. However, when fellowship was disrupted by sin or idolatry, for which the people would not repent, the privilege of answered prayer dried up (Dt. 1:45). Even Moses was denied the right to enter Canaan because of his sin (Dt. 3:25). At Gilboa, Saul’s rebellion had grown so great, that when he prayed, God refused to respond, directly, or even by priest or prophet (I Sam. 28:6). Saul found a substitute – witchcraft. There, one finds no moral threshold necessary for interaction. Even David, after the sin with Bathsheba, cannot persuade God to allow the child to live (II Sam. 12:16-18). Proverbs declares, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Prov. 15:8 – NAS). Isaiah would declare the moral connection with prayer as well, “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 covered with blood” (Isa. 1:15 – NAS). Even the multiplication of prayers, the increase in intensity, will not overcome sin. The only antidote is repentance.
O God, lead us, by your grace, your people, to a place of repentance for the sake of the nation, for the sake of your kingdom purposes.