John T. Willis

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yahweh's Inner Struggles of Compassion

Various biblical texts emphasize that Yahweh deeply struggles with compassion with regard to his sinful people. Yahweh initially chose his people and loves them deeply. But when his sinful people establish a long-standing HABIT of rebellion against God, the time comes when God reluctantly "gives his people up" to punishment and destruction. Paul makes this point clearly and unmistakably in Romans 1:24-28: "GOD GAVE THEM UP."

But even at that, God still struggles powerfully in his heart of hearts about what he might do to redeem his people. Hosea and Jeremiah emphasize this struggle.

I. Hosea 11:8-9.
   a. Hosea 11:1-11 paints a graphic picture of God adopting Israel when he brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage--11:1. But when Israel entered into the land of Canaan and came into contacts with the Baals, the gods of the Canaanites, the Israelites forsook or forgot Yahweh and went after other lovers. 11:2. Yahweh had done everything he could to support his sinful people. 11:3-4. But since they hardened their hearts, Yahweh finally declared: "They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king." 11:5. This is a clear announcement that God will send the Assyrians to overthrow Israel, and carry Israel into bondage. And this actually happened. BUT Yahweh still loves his sinful people.
   b. Out of this struggle, Yahweh erupts suddenly, saying:
          "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
              How can I hand you over, O Israel?
            How can I make you like Admah?
              How can I treat you like Zeboiim?  [Admah and Zeboiim were two of the five cities of the Plain that Yahweh destroyed in the days of Abraham and Lot--see Genesis 14:8--listed along with Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar].
            I will not execute my fierce anger;
                I will not again destroy Ephraim;
            for I am God and no mortal,
                the Holy One in your midst,
                and I will not come in wrath."

II. Jeremiah 31:15-20.
     a. Yahweh through Jeremiah compares God's sinful people with Rachel weeping for her children to depict the Babylonian exile of Judah. 31:15.
     b. But Yahweh declares that his people must stop weeping, because there is hope for the future.
     c. Yahweh responds in this way because he heard the pleading of God's people: Yahweh, you disciplined us, and we are ashamed of our sins, we repent, and seek your forgiveness. 31:18-19.
     d. Yahweh responds by declaring:
            "Is Ephraim my dear son?
                  Is he the child I delight in?
              As often as I speak against him,
                  I still remember him.
                  I WILL SURELY HAVE MERCY ON HIM, says the Lord."

Our God is a very emotional being. This is clearly demonstrated in his struggling about his compassion in behalf of his sinful people.

Share YOUR feelings and experiences and beliefs and reversals and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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