Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moses's intercession, round two

The scout narrative is rightly called the second main focus of theological reflection on the nexus of sin, judgment, prayer, and divine verdict in the canonical sequence of the Pentateuch. Moreover, the relation between the golden calf account and the scout narrative goes far beyond common themes. There are numerous conceptual and verbal parallels between these two narratives. The problem of YHWH’s presence among a fundamentally rebellious people is significantly developed in relation to the outstanding promised land in Numbers 13–14 (cf. Exod 33:1–6). Moreover, it is in these chapters that the outstanding divine warning of a forthcoming judgment finds a concrete resolution (cf. Exod 32:34). For our purposes, however, most important is the intrinsic relationship between YHWH’s fullest self-disclosure of His name (Exod 34:6–7) and Moses’ praying the divine attributes “back” to YHWH in the face of a threatening judgment (Num 14:11–12). YHWH’s response to Moses’ prayer provides a helpful inner-biblical commentary on the meaning and implications of YHWH’s attributes in a specific context. The divine resolution encompasses both judgment and mercy. Although all the people who have despised YHWH are punished, YHWH maintains the covenant relationship with Israel as a people. By implication, the prayer of the covenant mediator was successful. Israel can continue as YHWH’s people; their children will be the bearer of the divine promise made to their ancestors, and they will eventually be given the chance to inherit the promised land alongside the two loyal scouts. Thus, YHWH’s response to Moses’ prayer includes the complex interplay of human rebellion, divine judgment, prophetic mediation, and God’s merciful and gracious disposition.—Standing in the Breach, page 95

<idle musing>
No one ever said figuring this stuff out would be easy! It gets complicated real fast, doesn't it? It still boils down to our individual response to the grace of God. God remains faithful and calls us to the same. He's merciful, too, and that mercy is huge, but at some point it has a limit, as we'll see later in the book.
</idle musing>

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