This is the boring bit. I began to hear Yahweh through the things I saw. A cooking-pot tipped over, and the stew pouring out spoke to me of how Syria to the north was an ever-present threat – furious bubbling anger for ever boiling up. And a branch of almond, stirring into flower before the spring was really started spoke of the watchfulness of Yahweh. See? Dull. Just what you expected. And people almost kind-of listened. People rather like dull. You can dose comfortable enough through dull.
People liked having a real prophet speaking passionately to them. Saved them being passionate themselves, you see. So far, I was seeing what they expected, pretty much. The danger from a known enemy, the ever-watchfulness of Yahweh in a pretty tree.
They were a tad less enthusiastic when I started to speak about their dodgy morality. I spoke of the attacks of the rich on the poor. The rich became a little edgy and explained that actually they had not really done anything wrong. It was not as though they had actually duffed up the poor. Dearie me no. They had merely asserted their rights to buy and sell freely – outrageously exploiting the need of poor farmers to sell something even if the wretchedly low price they got was hardly enough to stop them from selling themselves into slavery. Or when it was not – when they were actually desperate enough to become slaves.
Yet in a kind of a way, they took a grim pleasure in my words. On the one hand, they were each and every one of them sure that what they had done was pretty much excusable, whereas what their neighbour had done was a real abomination. I was, of course, speaking against the other person. On the other hand, they felt the mere fact Yahweh had sent them a prophet kind-of reassured them. The prophet was there, living proof Yahweh was looking after them. A little scolding was natural and did not need to be taken too seriously. I was there to do the religion, the seriousness, for them.
Then there was the Temple – big and beautiful and reassuring. The very place Yahweh lived. Proof positive of his blessing on Israel. With that there, what did they need to fear?
The word of Yahweh became clearer and clearer. It became more and more oppressive. I moved, subtly from wanting to speak to having to speak. From hoping I would to be heard to wanting to pin people against a wall and shout at them until they had to listen. I went and stood outside the Temple and stopped people as they went in and out. I told each one of them, to their faces, that bleating like a sheep that the Temple, the Teee-emple, the Teee-emple of Yahweh was in Jerusalem was no guarantee of his favour, or his presence or his protection. His laws called for mercy, and justice, and kindness. He only could, would, live where these things were done. The sacrifice they had just been part of, the offering they had made meant nothing. Yahweh would do nothing to protect them, or his Temple, just because they had stared in wonder at walls of the Holy of Holies and told themselves he was in there. They were not special. Only living kindly and honestly was special.
That was when they really began to hate me. See, this is the boring bit. Never mind, it gets better.