Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.
Yesterday we read about the tough and unpleasant task of the prophet: “Declare to Jacob his transgression/and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8). Today we see the soft and tenderhearted interior to the gruff exterior of the Hebrew prophet and his God. Nobody had a tougher prophetic job than Jeremiah. Not for nothing is he known to history as the Weeping Prophet. Again and again, he records how much his prophetic call tore him up inside and how little he wanted the job to which God called him. Again and again, he begs, complains, wheedles and gripes at God about the hardness of his task (and of Israel’s heart). But he discovers that it is all just as hard and painful for God. And he reveals something else: despite all the harsh words God delivers through him to Israel, the absolute core of God is not that of Harsh Disciplinarian or Law Enforcer, but that of an anguished and loving Father. Today’s verse shows that. It is like a crack in God’s voice. Amid all the prophetic crashing and warnings, God’s booming voice breaks and we hear how close He is to tears over His wayward children and how, at the drop of a hat, at the merest hint of sorrow for sin, He would gladly welcome them back home. Today hear the Father’s voice of love for His children and be merciful too.