My book Divine Violence and the Character of God will be published on February 1, 2022. The book deals with God’s violent acts in the Old Testament in light of God’s character as a gracious and merciful God.
Below is an excerpt from the book. This excerpt deals with Israel as a big disappointment as God’s partners in the work of reconciliation.
The Big Disappointment
Israel turned out to be a big disappointment as God’s partners in the work of reconciliation. While Israel was still at Mount Sinai, the people built a golden calf. They worshiped the image by sacrificing burnt offerings and by presenting fellowship offerings to it. They dishonored Yahweh by eating and drinking and indulging in a festival dedicated to the image (Exod 32:6).
Yahweh was angry at Israel. He told Moses to leave him alone so that his wrath might burn hot against them and that he might consume them (Exod 32:10). In the wilderness, Israel tested Yahweh ten times by rebelling against him and by not obeying him (Num 14:22). As a demonstration of their disloyalty against Yahweh, while they were still in the wilderness, “the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab.” They sacrificed, ate, and bowed down to their gods. There, “Israel yoked itself to the Baal of Peor” (Num 25:1–3). Once again, Yahweh was angry and disappointed with his people.
The failure of Israel continued after they entered the promised land. From the days of the judges and throughout the period of the united and the divided monarchy the people rebelled against Yahweh by worshiping Baal and Asherah, by sacrificing in the high places, by burning their children to Molech, by practicing augury, and by promoting sexual depravity.
Several times God’s expressed his frustration with the people’s unfaithfulness, “Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?” (Jer 8:19). “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?” (Jer 8:5). These “why” questions “seem to imply a genuine loss on God’s part as to what might explain the faithlessness of the people.”
So disappointed was Yahweh with Israel that he wept and wanted to abandon them, “O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! O that I had in the desert a traveler’s lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors” (Jer 9:1–2).
You can order a pre-publication copy of the book at a 40% discount. If you want to order the book at 40% discount, send an email to email@example.com and put Divine Violence in the subject line and I will send you information on how to order a pre-publication copy of the book at 40% discount. This discount will be available only on pre-publication orders. The 40% discount offer ends on January 31, 2022.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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