God’s Hidden Compassion -- By: Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 57:2 (NA 2006)
Article: God’s Hidden Compassion
Author: Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

God’s Hidden Compassion

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer


The present article looks at the divine restriction on intercession, attested in Amos 7:1-8:3; Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11-12; Ezekiel 3:22-27; 24:27 and 33:21-22, and suggests that it is best understood as a way in which God safeguards his punitive plans from the forces of his own compassion. The divine declaration in Amos 7:8 and 8:2 is motivated by prudence: after having succumbed twice to Amos’ intercession, God forestalls intercession as a means to protect himself and his plans of punishment. Likewise, God declares his intention to disregard any dissenting views that Jeremiah may have concerning God’s planned punishment of Judah in order to ensure its execution. Lastly, God renders Ezekiel mute and confines him to his home so as to hinder him from interceding on behalf of the people.

1. Introduction

‘Let me be, I have to cry. Do not try to comfort me when my people are being destroyed.’ (Isaiah 22:4)

The biblical literary corpus bears witness to God’s ambivalent feelings concerning the need to punish Israel, and his love and compassion for her.1 While many texts speak of a compassionate God who is always willing to transform his punitive plans into blessings,2 several others, particularly those describing the imminent fall of Samaria in 721 BC or the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, present God differently. In these texts, God is perceived to be so angry with his people that he actively seeks

to ensure their punishment. In this article, I shall deal with but one textual feature, that of God restricting intercession.

Scholars have often understood this phenomenon as a way in which later authors attempted to remove any guilt from the prophets: since God had explicitly forbidden intercession, the prophets could not be held responsible for the people’s lack of repentance and their subsequent punishment. The present article proposes a different way of looking at the situation: rather than focusing on the prophets, I suggest that the theme of restricting intercession touches our understanding of God. In portraying God as forbidding intercession, several biblical ...

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