And then the long story of God's pursuit of humanity begins. Satan wanted center stage: He wanted to be the main character, he wanted to be the point. His plan now is to ruin the Sacred Romance, to get us all caught up in our own little sociodramas by telling us that we are the point. You can see how humanity goes along with this. Cain murders Abel; Lamech threatens to murder everyone else. Humanity grows worse and worse until God says in pain, "I'm sorry I ever made them." But he doesn't give up. First with Noah, then Abraham, then Israel, we see God pursuing a people whose hearts will be for him, with whom he can share the joy of the larger story. But their faithfulness lasts about as long as the morning dew.
How is God feeling by this point? When we reach the prophets, we get a glimpse at what it feels like to be God. Reading the prophets, says Yancey, is like hearing a lovers' quarrel through the apartment wall. Eavesdrop on the argument and catch a glimpse of his heart:
I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me. ... What fault did you find in me that you strayed so far from me? You are a swift she-camel running here and there, sniffing the wind in her craving-in her heat who can restrain her? Should I not punish them for this? Should I not avenge myself? I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. What have I done to make you hate me so much? (From Jeremiah)
I long to be gracious to you. You are precious and honored in my sight, because I love you. But you—come here, you ... you ... offspring of adulterers. You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide. You have been false to me. Yet ... I will take delight in you, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will I rejoice over you. (From Isaiah)
I will answer you according to your idols [your false lovers] in order to recapture your heart. (From Ezekiel)