Friday, October 27, 2017

No cheap grace here

Jeremiah acknowledges in prayer the necessity of divine discipline but he also pleads for leniency. Calvin draws attention to a general truth by pointing to the necessity of the people’s repentance as well: “the real character and nature of repentance is, to submit to God’s judgment and to suffer with a resigned mind his chastisement, provided it be paternal.” In other words, the intercessor urges Yhwh not to judge Israel in the heat of His justified wrath or nothing will be left of His people. The text makes a clear distinction between discipline in anger that would destroy the obstinate sinner and a discipline according to justice (ְbemišpāṭ) that will eventually lead to repentance and renewal. Here divine justice has the connotation of grace and mercy. Jeremiah does not plead for cheap grace. He clearly speaks of Israel’s guilt and its need for discipline, but he prays for a calm and well reflected judgment that would not endanger the future of the people of God (“. . . lest you would bring everything to nothing,” Jer 10:24; cf. Ps. 6:1).—Standing in the Breach, page 351

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