Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Poor Jeremiah

The Hebrew conjunction weʾattâ (“as for you”) marks a sudden shift of addressee away from the “temple audience” that is under judgment to the prophet himself (cf. Jer 7:16–20). Jeremiah is instructed with a threefold negative command not to pray for the people. The divine prohibition to intercede in v. 16 introduces the reader of the book of Jeremiah for the first time to the second intrinsic role of the prophet: that of the intercessor. Thus, the divine prohibition comes initially as a surprise because it is as much part of the prophetic office to intercede on behalf of the sinful party as it is to convey Yhwh’s word to them. In the light of the immanent disaster that is awaiting Judah (Jer 7:14–15), one would expect the prophet to advocate on behalf of the sinful people and stand in the breach to protect the people from Yhwh’s forthcoming judgment (cf. Ezek 13:5, 22:30–31). After all, seeking to pacify the righteous anger of Yhwh and to plead for mercy and patience is one of the main roles of the intercessor. However, it seems it is precisely this defining aspect of the prophetic ministry that is denied to Jeremiah.—Standing in the Breach, page 343

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