Monday, July 18, 2011

The rhythm of the prophets

“The prophetic books describe a God who remains free in relation to this process. Yahweh sovereignly responds as he chooses within this rhythm [acts of discipline (judgment) or threats of discipline (prophecy)]. Although the normative pattern is for him to respond to the penitent, at times he may reject what appears to be a penitent cry and at others respond with grace where there is no penitence. This explains the 'who knows' or 'perhaps' that is expressed by David in 2 Samuel 24, the sailors and Ninevites in Jonah, and the prophet in Joel 2:14, Amos 5:15, and Zeph 3:3.5 This is not then an impersonal retribution principle and procedure but rather a rhythm based on covenantal relationship between Yahweh and Israel.

“While God retains his sovereignty, it is apparent throughout the prophetic process that humans exercise their God-given freedom by consistently rejecting divine discipline. It is this freedom that ultimately threatens the basic rhythm itself. Rather than being hidden, this threat is readily admitted within the prophetic corpus and lays the foundation for the revelation of a radically new remedy for sin. The Former Prophets make it clear in the key retrospect in 2 Kings 17 that the prophetic process was unsuccessful because of the people’s rejection of the prophets’ message. Isaiah’s call burdens the prophet with the task of shutting down the prophetic process that was designed to bring response. After early calls to repentance are met with indifference, Jeremiah shows how the prophetic process is ultimately denied by Yahweh as judgment becomes inevitable. So also Ezekiel, who is forbidden from the outset to intercede for a Jerusalem whose fate is sealed, experiences the frustration of preaching repentance to a stubborn remnant. Although there are positive examples of the basic rhythm working in the Twelve, it is clear from Hosea, Amos, and Micah that the process is frustrated by an intractable people.”—A Severe Mercy, pages 354-355

<idle musing>
So much for "name it; claim it; stomp on it and frame it" theology. God is free to respond as he desires, not how we wish he would. No manipulation allowed.

I must say, I prefer it that way.
</idle musing>

No comments: