Why did God require Sacrifice?

Afternoon all,

This one has always been a puzzle for me. A God, who ‘is’ everything, ‘created’ everything, ‘owns’ everything, is omnipotent, omnipresent, very controlling (OT), or not controlling at all (NT), etc, wants the puny humans to go and kill others of It’s creations and lay them on an altar of ‘stone’ or whatever, or burn them to ashes, to appease Itself. Please make that make sense. God wanted us to murder innocent animals, and innocent people, to keep agreements we have made with It; but not all people, no, sometimes It might stay the hand of one or two .. like Abraham and Isaac .. but what about Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11:35) .. what was so special about her that she could not be saved by an angel .. or was it that she was simply unworthy of the gift, in her innocence, something so highly treasured by the Israelite society? And then we have Job, who, while he wasn’t murdered, appears to have been a sacrifice to God’s ego? And Jesus, seen as the ultimate sacrifice .. why was that necessary – why, as someone wrote on a webpage I visited today on this subject .. couldn’t God just simply forgive us without Jesus having to die for our sins? And then there’s Cain, who bore the mark of his betrayal forever .. he murdered his brother because God didn’t like his sacrifice of the fruit of the ground (Gen 4:3) .. no, it had to be a blood sacrifice or nothing .. so Cain ‘sacrificed’ his brother .. was he trying to buy back God’s favour in doing so? Human blood, we assume, is more important, or more full of vitality, than animals – since we have dominion over the animals? Is that what ‘god’ wants, the vitality (life force) from the blood .. the energy of creation returned to the creator .. or was it the creator? Why would the creator of all things need the energy of creation from one of its created beings? Again, that makes no sense to me, knowing what I know about metaphysics. But what feeds on the vital energy of humanity, or the terror of innocence animals as they die? It’s not a god in my opinion.

Love & Peace
Ama

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Vengeance is Mine!

Let me set the scene: a discussion on another site, with a person (A) who says that the Bible says s/he is justified to seek vengeance against another person (B), by cursing them .. literally using a spell. This person (B) had done the victim (A), and others s/he says, harm, and the curse had changed them (B) into a better, now God fearing, person. What do I believe? When I asked the caster (A) to remove the curse and forgive the person (B), s/he refused .. s/he said it had been God’s will that s/he had done it, and it would be God’s will when the curse came off, if it ever did. I suggested s/he removed it to see if it had been the curse that had forced the person (B) to change, or had the person simply chosen the happier path themselves? S/he (A) also refused to do this. S/he is still angry at the person for what they did to her/him. By her/his own admission s/he is unforgiving.

It got me thinking about the bible, and as usual, comparing the OT with the NT .. and so I dipped into both, via Strong’s Concordance .. and was flabbergasted at the amount of times the word revenge, avenge or vengeance was used by Strong’s, only to find them retranslated, occasionally, in my NOAB into retribution, or switched between avenged and revenged, or verses where it was removed completely and taken back to a better translation. What it showed to me was the mindset of the person who first did the translation of the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek that Strong bases his Concordance upon – Vengeance is mine! or is it? How do we justify vengeance when Jesus words ask us to choose another path?

Dictionary meanings –

Vengeance – Infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed; retribution.
Idiom: with a vengeance
1. With great violence or force.
2. To an extreme degree.

Revenge – tr.v. re•venged, re•veng•ing, re•veng•es
1. To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult).
2. To seek or take vengeance for (oneself or another person); avenge.
n.
1. The act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs; retaliation.
2. Something done in vengeance; a retaliatory measure.
3. A desire for revenge; spite or vindictiveness.
4. An opportunity to retaliate, as by a return sports match after a defeat.

Avenge – tr.v. a•venged, a•veng•ing, a•veng•es
1. To inflict a punishment or penalty in return for; revenge: avenge a murder.
2. To take vengeance on behalf of: avenged their wronged parents.

There is a lot of vengeance (revenge/avenging) going on in the OT, and lots of folk asking God for it, and joyfully naming God ‘vengeful’, and glorying in what God might do to their enemies. Isaiah said there is even a Day of Vengeance (34:8, 61:2, 63:04) (later Luke calls it ‘days’ 21:22 – wasn’t one enough?) Jeremiah calls it a Day of Retribution (46:10), but the meaning is the same. A day when harming others will not anger God? Oh yes, doesn’t Psalms advise us that “the righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked ..”? But who decides who is wicked?

I guess if we all play ‘follow the leader’ seeking revenge/vengeance is not so surprising, given that Jehovah either did it, or threatened to, on a regular basis. Or, as one lady I know said, this is how the writers wanted believers to see Jehovah, as defending them when they were in strife, but .. what happened when they broke the rules .. the jealous God (Psalm 94:1, Proverbs 6:34) of Vengeance suddenly turned the tables and attacked them … look at Saul and his torment by an ‘evil angel from the Lord’ because he spared the life of one man. Was Moses being banned from the promised Land God’s revenge for disobedience, and then there is Jephthah having to sacrifice his daughter because of his promise to Jehovah, even though Abraham’s hand was stopped when he went to do the same to his son? Even Revelation demands it .. written after Jesus’ teachings – what was ‘John’ thinking? “Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth”? This is the Jesus that taught ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘love one another’, it’s a puzzle that John ignored him.

But there was a quiet, very quiet, voice of reason within the OT. Leviticus 19:17 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself ..”. And questions can be raised by Psalm 99:8 .. how a forgiving God can be an ‘avenger of their wrongdoings’? A person who forgives has no reason to seek vengeance; surely a God who forgives would be even less inclined to do so? After all, ‘he’ laid down the rules.

Jesus went up the mountain to speak to the people, to give them a new way of living, a new way of thinking about how they acted in their lives. He called us ‘the Light of the World’ (Matthew 5:14). He said our light should shine for others (5:16), but how can it when our hearts are filled with pain and darkness? 1 Sam 14:24 called casting a curse a ‘rash act’, and it is, for none of us can know the repercussions of our actions. Oh, we might see an immediate effect, and pat ourselves on the back for it, but what about the long term, and what about if we choose to continue to hate instead of loving, to glory in another’s pain, what then?

Jesus taught ‘if you are angry you are liable to judgment’ (Matt 5:22) and he disputed the old teachings of ‘an eye for an eye’ (Matt 5:38), which is what so many use as their excuse to do harm to others – ‘they did it first’ or ‘they hurt someone else’. He said “… do not resist an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also …” (Matt 5:39), and keeping turning, and walk away. He placed God’s love, and our place in heaven, far above any earthly concerns. He also said ‘be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matt 5:48).

Ok, now I go back to shaking my head in puzzlement. The God of Vengeance is perfect, but we are not allowed to act like him? Which God was Jesus talking about? Oh I know, the one he called out to from the Cross .. EL, not Jehovah.

Jesus taught ‘forgive and keep forgiving’ (Matt 18:22). He did not teach ‘punish first, and then stay angry’. Paul continued the theme with a few add-ins .. Romans 12:19-21 “Beloved, never avenge yourself, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In my opinion Paul needed to work on his ‘forgiving’ attitude, but I do understand what he meant. When you do good to others who would harm you, you can make them very angry. They want you to react from the same pain they are feeling; when you don’t, when you ‘love’ instead of hating .. you show them themselves in a very ugly mirror. If you will hold Love in your heart, instead of pain and fear, you become the Light Jesus wants us all to be, which he says we already are.

The bible is confusing people .. again. Who do we choose to follow when the OT teaches of a vengeful God, and the NT says “don’t be vengeful”, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31), “Love one another as I have loved you” (Luke 13:34), “turn the other cheek”? I suppose it depends on our mood at time .. given that the Bible isn’t consistent as well? But I would rather follow Jesus .. consistently. So Vengeance isn’t mine, and nor do I think it is Jesus’ God’s first thought either. How could ‘He’ have said “love one another as I have loved you” if he was planning on judging us all in the near future (his version anyway) and sending most of us to hell?

But that’s another story.

Love & Peace
Ama

Dancing with the Word

Good afternoon all,

I was going to write about the concept of vengeance in the bible, OT & NT, but got distracted by a blog from Heather “Move from this Mountain” and then dropped in on Stephen’s Space where he has taken all my questions in my second post in September 2011 and answered them for me. That’s lovely. 🙂 Thank you. Given the busy-ness of the beginning of January, when he did that, if he told me .. I have forgotten, sorry .. so it was lovely finding it today. I tried to comment on his site, about one or more things he had written, but the comment box won’t work for me .. nor is the link at the bottom of his message active .. it goes to a blank page .. so Stephen, I am hoping you see this .. I wonder what happened, and if you can fix it?

So .. let me answer here:

Question #1: What are God’s books?

Stephen said: Note/Fact: Then God’s books would be God’s word or what God said, when God said it, where God said it, who God said it to, and how God said the word. I am going to show two places in the bible one from the (OT) Old Testament and one from the (NT) New Testament where the bible states that it is ”the word of God“

1 Samuel 9:26-27 (OT) (AKJV)
26And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
27And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on), but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.

Me: I go to my NOAB and look up the translations. This is what I have for 1 Samuel 9:27 “As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.

Make known .. he didn’t pull out his copy of the book. In the next verse (10:1) Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head, and kissed him and said “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people, Israel” and Samuel told Saul of various signs that would prove this to be true. There is no comment about writing it down, and given the time period, it was probably unlikely to have been written down, but joined the oral tradition.

Well, in my opinion, Samuel definitely showed Saul God’s word, or said them anyway .. but this is not the ‘bible’ stating itself to be the Word of God.

***

1 Thessalonians 2:12-14 (actually 2:12-13)

Stephen’s translation: (NT) (AKJV)

12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Note/Fact: There were forty-five exact matches to the phrase ”the word of God” and as stated above it is the word of truth.

Me: NOAB 12 ” .. urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”

I am not doubting there are 45 matches to the phrase “the word of God” but which one of them actually mentions a book – or the bible in its entirety, given that the Thessalonians were written a Letter by Paul hundreds of years before the Bible was put together. Add in, as Stephen says, that we now have the Dead Sea Scrolls to ‘add’ to what we know of as the books of God.

Question #2: What about the Torah, or the Quran?

Stephen: If they are the truth then “YES” they are the word of God, but if they are only part truth then “NO”.

Me: Fair enough, I agree. Only .. the Torah is the original five books of the Christian Bible .. I must admit I haven’t done a comparison of the modern Torah with our modern ‘first five books’ of the Bible, but Theologians acknowledge Christianity’s reliance on them for our foundations.

If they are only part true .. and what happens each time we find some mistake in our bible .. and it becomes ‘only part true’ .. do we turn a blind eye and pretend we didn’t find it .. which leads to ‘contradictions in the bible’ but we’ll get back to that later.

Question #3: But why, if their foundations remain the same?

Stephen quoted: Zechariah 12 (OT) (AKJV) Hebrews 1:9-11 (NT) (AKJV)
NOTE/FACT: The Lord laid the foundation of the earth, so I know who laid the foundation of the earth. That is who I believe. The same Lord that laid the foundations of the earth also spoke to Israel ( God’s people.) Their foundations can be considered the same if they are the truth and if they are the word of the Lord God.

Again I agree, but why do you doubt they are? “If” .. see my answer to question 2.

Question #4: Stephen has written a very good answer – which shows we all interpret words differently. The Mystery of God’s books, for me, is why there are so many things that contradict themselves within it, and yet people still consider it the ultimate and only ‘Word of God’.

Stephen said: The exact phrase or question (the mysteries of God) is found only one time in the (AKJV) of the bible, as stated above. The word mysteries was found five times. Based on I Corinthians 4:5 The Lord (God) when he comes will bring to light (make known) the hidden things of darkness, (the mysteries) then we will have praise of God. And according to Matthew 13:11 the answer to the disciples was that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, (God’s Kingdom).

Note/Fact: Then the answer is that God will reveal the mysteries to those who do not know, or to those to whom the mysteries have not been revealed when the Lord comes. The hidden things of darkness and the counsels of the hearts will also be made manifest (known),and then every man will have praise of God.

Lovely! Thank you Stephen.

Question #5: Who actually wrote them? Why people continue to think God wrote them when we have proof that people did?

Stephen said:
Genesis 1:3 God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Me: It’s a great pity he didn’t invent pen and ink, or carving in stone, at that time. Given He is God, we could have had computers. 🙂

Stephen: The author (Moses) that wrote Genesis is the person that wrote this down, and I can not find any place where God wrote this book or any book in the bible. This does not change the truth that the words recorded here were spoken by God. Men chosen by God were the means by which we receive the word from God.

Me: This is one of the reasons why I like you. 🙂 You can admit there’s a problem. I’ll add to it. We don’t know that Moses existed, because there are no records of him at all, while we have other records of the time period he lived in. If he did exist, and led the Israelites out of Egypt, and Pharaoh, who chased them, died in the sea .. why do we have his mummy in the British(??) museum? He should have been washed far away by the return of the sea. Perhaps the sea gave him back?

Stephen: Note/Fact: The exact quote = ”Let there be light” God said this and it is the part considered the Word of God. God did not write this down, but the fact that the light that still exists today is evidence that there is light. This action is proof that a miracle took place, or an action that no man can duplicate.

Can man duplicate making Light? The first spark .. I agree, I also believe that only God did that. Now we have electricity and splitting the atom.

Question #6: What are the contradictions within them?

Stephen: This is very controversial, so you can say that it has contradictions and therefore you can’t believe that it is the word of God or you can declare that it is the word of truth from God and believe all that it contains about God and what God said. ( AKJV ) The other versions and other religions contradict or omits parts of this version of the bible. I find this version the most accurate translation available.

Me: Start with this – http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_book.html I know its a site by skeptics but its not the only one, and they don’t just have a go at Christianity.

To me, because God is perfect, if this book was written by God, without the interference of humanity, it would have no contradictions. There would be no confusion. We would not need to edit, nor re-translate (just look at the difference between the various bibles available today, and your belief in your bible as the best translation, and mine being so different .. bought by me at Theology College as the best translation available to date), nor argue over bits and pieces of it, and have people invent things and adapt it .. which has been proved over the centuries. It seems to me that a person who declares their particular version of the bible as perfect, which I am sure mine isn’t, is covering their eyes with their hands and refusing to accept what has been proved to be fact. A book that contradicts your bible, or omits parts, might be because what was translated in yours was wrong to start with.

Question #7: What are the messages?

Stephen: The bible is a spiritual message to God’s people, a message from God, and the message is a message of Salvation, Comfort, Spiritual Guidance, Protection, Courage, Peace, Spiritual Strength, Warning, and Forgiveness.
Psalms 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Me: You list all the uplifting parts of the bible. How about people going to hell for one transgression, whether they try to be good Christians or not; Saul being tormented by an angel sent by ‘God’; Moses being banned from the promise land because he didn’t do exactly what he was told .. I can list much more. God help all of us – how many of us do exactly what the bible tells us to do .. have you taken your son up a mountain to sacrifice him to Jehovah yet? What would you do if God demanded it of you today? What would your son do? And what about the treatment God allowed of Job and his family? There’s one that’s hard to explain. But I’ve written about that just recently on my blog.

Question #8: Is Revelation a reality, or a well constructed slap at Nero for his treatment of the Christians during the persecutions?

Stephen: Note/Fact: Revelation is without a doubt a reality: Chapter #1 verse #1 God gave the Revelation of Jesus Christ to show his servants the things that must come to pass, and he also sent the Revelation by his angel to his servant John.

Me: I guess we’ll find out at end times, in the meantime .. 666 is the Gematric number (the sum total of the numbers of the letters of its name) for Nero, not the devil. The devil’s number is 616. Since the bible lists the devil as 666 .. there’s been a error somewhere.

Question #9: When did Christianity step outside the Jewish Laws, including diet and the Ten Commandments?

Stephen quoted from Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians .. but left it to question 10 before partly quoting the words I would use to answer this question. He was quoting Paul, not Jesus. Given a choice of whose words to follow, which person will ‘save’ us?

Stephen said: Note/Fact: The Christian is not under the law, but under grace. The Christian should not sin, because they are not under the law. The Jewish law was to make a sacrifice for sin, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all sin has been made. The Christian should keep the commandments of God.

I agree about most of the commandments … I’ve also blogged about that. Paul made it easy for the Christians, slipping them out of the laws, by only keeping the bits that suited him. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great int he kingdom of heaven”.

In question 10 even you agree that heaven and earth have not passed away yet. Was Jesus lying, or did Paul simply change the rules for himself?

Question #10: Has heaven and earth passed away, and what does it mean for Revelation?

Stephen: The answer to question ten is NO and there is no effect on Revelation.
Note/Fact: Only God (he that sat upon the throne) can make all things new. Heaven and earth shall pass away, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word shall not pass away.

I agree the old will be replaced by the new, sometime in the future. I have research this question again because I have forgotten what it is about?

Question # 11 What is the war in heaven, and is it real?

After quoting various bits of Revelation Stephen said:

Note/Fact: The war in heaven was to cast Satan and his angels out, and the events are as real as the word of God. As above the word is true and faithful.

Me: .. so below “.. we wish it was”. Blind faith will not help us at the ‘accounting’. “I did what you said” will not save us when what we did turns out to be another man’s reinterpretation of the “Word”. Just look at situations like Waco.

The war in heaven is continuous, and manifests among the people (as above, so below), through real wars and personal battles within ourselves, with our families and friends, with entities we cannot see or touch, but they can touch us, and those who are criminally insane. We should stand steadfast within the faith of God, but not with blinkers on. If following the bible to the letter is the only way into heaven, we are all damned.

More questions? Oh yes .. I have questions. I have lots of questions. LOL

Thank you Stephen. I am sorry if I have not seemed kind, but I do appreciate very much that you took the time to answer my questions.

Love & Peace
Ama

Is God evil?

Hey .. you true believers out there – will one of you please explain why your group always seems to run away from the tough questions? It’s not like you can’t see them .. or maybe you can’t, but when they are pointed out to you – why don’t you answer? Please, try and prove me wrong. I don’t want to believe that the ‘one’ God in the bible is evil – but the facts seem to speak for themselves. What do I mean? How can I possibly say that? Well, to start with, I don’t believe there’s only one God .. so let’s be a little specific and look only at the OT one, for now.

Is God evil?

First let’s define evil.

1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
n.
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader’s power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.
adv. Archaic
In an evil manner.

TheFreeDictionary – evil That is a fascinating page. I am grateful to the creator of the page for all the information on it.

Here’s a simply hypothesis – did God create all things? Let’s look in Genesis. The first two chapters are very specific – he created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. Paul in Colossians (or whomever actually wrote it, since the author is under dispute) 1:16 certainly thinks so. So says Revelation 4:11, 10:6, Isaiah 42:5, 45:12 and, creation through Jesus is stressed in Colossians 1:15-18, John 1:1-3,10, Ephesians 3:9. That’s pretty clear.

Since God created everything, where did evil come from? It can’t have come from some outside source if God IS everything, and it must have God within it since God is IN everything. So where does that leave us with this very brief question? Yes, God ‘is’ evil, just in the same way he/IT ‘is’ good. Back to Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Now we know where we get it from.

Not enough, hey? Ok, let’s look at the concept of ‘morally wrong acts’.

Is it morally wrong to give a bomb to a child and ask it not pull the pin? Or a loaded gun and ask it not to point and shoot? Yes, I’m talking about Adam and Eve. Why put them into a garden of perfection, and then deliberately point out the only tree they were not allowed to touch? And how did the serpent get in there in the first place, to ‘tempt’ them to their own destruction? Don’t tell me the all knowing God didn’t know Satan (for want of a more accurate name) was there? Doesn’t that remove the whole concept of ‘all knowing’? Did God expect too much of it’s innocent (childlike) creations? And on that thought, why did God create beings that couldn’t change? Because hanging around in a beautiful garden, without having to do a thing ever, is not going to teach anyone anything .. but pop in a bit of temptation, and suddenly the humans had to fend for themselves in an unknown wilderness .. that’s a great way to learn to survive, or perish.

Now let’s step out of the garden and into Lot’s life. Is one act of evil mitigated by another act of evil? Is it morally wrong to destroy two entire communities of people who are acting in morally wrong ways? How does anyone get a chance to learn and change if you take away their lives .. and where did they go when they were dead – because hell was not really an OT topic? But that’s another story. And why kill Lot’s wife for looking over her shoulder, and not kill her daughters for acts of incest, that God later decided were not good behaviour? What changed his mind?

Then we’ll look at Abraham. Is it morally wrong to ask a man to kill his son to prove his faith? Is lying wrong too, because God obviously had no intention of allowing the boy to die, so why put Abraham through that psychological torture (and it had to be torture, unless the man was a nut), when God thought Abraham was a true believer?

And talking about true believers, how about Job. He’s a conundrum all to himself. I really should go back to Saul, another of my favourites .. one of God’s favourites for a while, until he disobeyed the order to ‘murder an entire tribe of people’ (shades of Sodom and Gomorrah?) just because God didn’t like them at the time. God sent ‘an evil angel from the Lord’ to torment him into insanity. Is that a moral act? After all, he murdered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people, and only spared one and some food.

Is the OT God evil? Well, how would those people feel about it? And why should we love such a God, if IT cannot be trusted to speak first before pulling the trigger? If a person like that breaks into your home what would you do?

And then we have the NT God who teaches “love one another as I have loved you”. The most evil act IT did seems to have been to ask Jesus to sacrifice himself for love of us. I think I’ll stick with EL.

Love & Peace
Ama

Lot – a righteous man?

After the university course I realised I will never be an academic. I don’t think the same way. I am taught to keep things simple and understandable. Dissecting God’s Word to find all the hidden meanings leaves me cold, because I don’t think that, if God had written this book, he/IT would have wanted it to be so complicated that no one could understand what it was about, except God’s especially trained scholars – but who does the training, and where do they get their ideas from? From other scholars, from other eras, and other viewpoints (nations, beliefs and ancient religions) of the world. And where do those scholars get their wisdom? And how much of it is affected by what they ‘want’ to believe, rather than what is actually the Truth? We all measure Truth by our own wants, needs and experiences – for none of us is perfect, and none of us is God. But then, the thought occurs to me, that perhaps this OT God did want the book to be confusing, and need to be explained .. so that IT could get away with behaviour that would be unjustifiable if ‘we’ did it? Or is it simply a record of what happened in those times, to those people, with a God that loved one minute, and smited you the next?

So the ordinary folk were told the basic stories, and perhaps had some of their questions explained away, but how many of them had the intelligence, or the desire, to dig any deeper into what God ‘might’ have meant, or the motives behind what he/IT did? No, it took the minds of men, seeking to make God reasonable and understandable, to make excuses for confusing, or frightening, behaviour.

And I am still in Genesis right now, going from one story to another, looking at Jehovah, while Jehovah is looking at Lot and his family, and the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah, two towns of five, in the region, that housed unrighteous men. What does righteous actually mean? “Righteousness (also called rectitude) is an important theological concept in Zoroastrianism, Hinduism (dharma), Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is an attribute that implies that a person’s actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been “judged” or “reckoned” as leading a life that is pleasing to God.” Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct. Righteousness – Wikipedia. Simply put it means integrity, equity, justice and straightness.

So God saw Sodom and sent two angels in to find ten righteous men, thanks to Abraham’s very determined bargaining, for Lot was one of his family and lived there. (Genesis 18:26-33) On the night they arrived all the men of Sodom gathered around Lot’s house and demanded that he send the ‘men’ out to ‘know’ them, which I am told means ‘have sex with them’, and Lot refused. He was happy enough for his two virgin daughters to be used and abused (19:8) by the mob, and he almost took a beating to try and protect God’s messengers, but some of the mob were struck blind, and the doorway was hidden from them, and all the others left. The next morning Lot and his wife and daughters had to be dragged out of town, because he was reluctant to leave. He would not obey the angels when they told him to run to the hills. Instead he sought safety in the next small town. On the way his wife could not restrain her curiosity, so she had turned back to watch her home being destroyed and, in that moment, was turned into a pillar of salt. Why? I was taught that she had disobeyed the angels who said ‘do not look back ..’ and so God punished her.

Before we stop and analyse what was happening, the story has to continue. Lot and his daughters tried to settle in Zoar, but still feeling unsafe moved up into a cave. While in cave the daughters decided that having sex with their father would secure the family line, giving birth to two sons.

And so the questions start. Were the angels/men looking for Lot, since Abraham had pleaded for the town because of him? He obviously acted as a good host to them. Did the men of the town always act that way with newcomers? How did they trade with other towns if the travellers were always accosted after dark if they did? Or could the townsfolk see there was something different about those men? Could Lot tell they were angels after they entered his house? Did they tell him of their mission? Fearing God, and because of that the angels, did Lot then feel he was trapped between a rock and a hard place when the townsfolk came knocking? Why didn’t he trust God to take care of the angels, rather than offering the men outside his virgin daughters .. given that the men were homosexuals anyway, the offer was completely pointless .. perhaps he should have offered them himself? For him God had to be more important than his own offspring, which is one way Lot is described as a righteous man, but I don’t see him that way. He didn’t ‘trust’ God to look after the angels, and therefore himself and his family. The town was already lost, given the behaviour of the mob. What good would it have done to give his daughter’s over to them who were not interested in ‘knowing’ them? It wasn’t going to change the outcome anyway.

To me, Lot is a no hero, nor a righteous man. It appears he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters for his God, even though he didn’t trust God, and he didn’t think the angels could look after themselves. In the morning, knowing the fate of the town, he was still reluctant to leave when he was told to. Perhaps his motive was to try and protect the town, but he was defying God’s wishes in staying. Later he wouldn’t go to the cave when he was told to by the angels. And then how drunk was he actually when his daughters came to him for sex. I believe alcohol tends to stop a man from being able to do the ‘act’, so he couldn’t have been so drunk that he didn’t know what he was doing.

And I have questions about Lot’s daughters. Why did they not seek out husbands to replace those who had died in Sodom? There were still three other towns in the region they could have chosen from? Or were they so frightened by what had happened to Sodom and Gomorrah that they would rather break social norms .. or did they? Was incest acceptable to God, given that Abraham married his half-sister? Some brief research later – it seems that incest was allowable for the first 1500 years, but after that God made a law that outlawed it. (Leviticus 18:6-18) Why did it take so long? Or had the ‘all-knowing’ God not thought of genetic abnormalities?

And why did God rescue Lot and his family? It was not because he and his family were righteous. Lot betrayed God by not trusting him, his wife by her curiosty, and his daughters .. well, the new rule didn’t get made for a few years after that, but I think I would be very angry with my father for his willingness to place me in harms way ‘for God’. But that’s just me. I don’t think doing evil ‘for God’ makes us justified.

Lastly, what does it say about the ‘love everyone’ God? Does ‘everyone’ not mean all the people created by God? Were the people in Sodom and Gomorrah created by someone else? And what about ‘righteous’ women? The men might have been unforgivable, but were all the women? I realise the Bible was written by patriarchal men, and women had little value back then, or did they? But, hang on, I thought God wrote the bible? Does he/IT value women less too?

Always more questions!

Love & Peace
Ama

I have questions …

I was talking to my daughter today, who has been reading this blog, and she suggested I put my opinions into all my discussions. Having just read the articles again, I think I already am .. but mostly my opinions come out with about a thousand questions, because I am trying to make sense of what I am reading .. I am in fact, just like Hedley Lamarr, “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives”. (Blazing Saddles, 1974) My mind leap frogs from one thought to another, trying to understand how the God of the OT can be the same God as the NT, when he/she/it (yes, I will call it IT from now on) does things like let Satan ‘test’ Job by destroying his whole family; not punish Lot’s daughters for sleeping with their father, even after their mother is turned into a pillar of salt for looking back to her home be destroyed; and asking Abraham to kill his own son, to prove his faith; and then IT turns around and says, through Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you”. If we went by actions alone, the OT god has proved ITself totally untrustworthy, and the NT God then turning around and saying ‘trust me’, is kind of like the vampire in Buffy (the movie) doing the same. Why would I want to? I can’t turn my back on you. What’s the other message – incest is just fine, but curiosity isn’t?

So I have questions –

Let’s talk about Abraham. Abraham’s legacy, or legend, is that he had two sons late in life, the first by his wife’s servant/slave, Hagar, and the second by his wife (after God healed her of barrenness), who was his half-sister (same father). Now Sarah, not wanting competition for their legitimate heir, had Abraham turn Hagar out into the desert with Ishmael. My first question would have to be why didn’t God cure Sarah’s barronness before Ishmael was conceived, and after that we hit the cascade – what did Hagar and Ishmael do to deserve being tossed out, and how could Abraham do it, knowing it was entirely possible that both of them would die out there? Does this make Abraham a good man to be the founder of the Jewish faith, not to mention the Christian and Muslim? Is infanticide acceptable to God? Did Ishmael suddenly lose importance to God, not just Abraham, because Sarah had a baby at around 90 years – no, God was there, he was the one who advised Abraham to do what Sarah asked, and afterwards IT came up to Hagar and helped her, but if IT is all-knowing and all-wise, why did IT (God) allow the situation in the first place?

How about this thought – last night I watched a TV program about the history, and legacy, of Abraham and his decision to cast away his first son. It seems that God blessed both Ishamel, and Isaac, Sarah’s son. Ishamel’s descendents became the Muslims, and Isaac’s became the Christians, and the hatred between them .. is still present in the modern day. And why? How does having a willingness to kill your own child prove you are a good man and one worthy of being honoured by God – by IT bestowing the gift of ‘land’ on you and your descendents? Hence the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Israelites believe God gave them the land the Palestinians live on, and they want it back .. and they are not adverse to just ‘taking’ it .. after all, God gave it to their Ancestor .. but .. which one of the son’s is actually supposed to hold it? Was that what the ‘love everyone’ God was trying to create .. a war that began perhaps 4000 years ago, and continues today? Or was that why IT wanted one of the son’s killed, to simplify the situation? And who’s angel was it that stopped Abraham’s hand? But that’s another thought completely. And then .. which son did God actually ask Abraham to sacrifice to IT? The Jews say it was Isaac, and the Muslims say it was Ishmael. I think it really doesn’t matter. What loving God would demand a sacrifice of anyone’s child, to prove a person’s faith? And not just once . oh no …

Let’s talk about Job.

Job, a true believer, a ‘blameless and upright’ man, who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1), had seven sons and three daughters when God told Satan is was all right with him to test Job’s faith. Job worried for his family, and made sure that all of them were ‘right’ with God, but who looked after him? What did he do to God to make God turn him into an example? Nothing. Up until the moment of Satan’s discussion about Job’s faith, God had blessed Job with abundance, but within minutes it was all gone. What did Job do? He tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped God. Was that enough? Oh no. Satan demanded to ‘test’ Job more and God said “very well, he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 1:6). And Job was then ‘inflicted by loathsome sores’ all over his body. And yet Job still worshipped God. He blamed himself for doing something wrong, rather than questioning God’s judgment upon him (Job 6:24). Even his wife demanded he curse God and die, and his friends turned against him and told him it had to be his fault that the suffering was happening ‘because God doesn’t punish people for no reason’, and yet we know, from the story itself, that the only reason Job lost all his children and possessions was because God told Satan he could be tested. In the end God restored Job’s fortune, and he went on to have more children, but who was Job then, how could what had happened not changed him in some way? Or was he simple crazy, or the story an allegory .. because God is not the loving God in this one. Was Job the sacrifice to show Satan that IT had one true follower? What does that mean for the rest of us, who are not as strong, or as crazy, as Job? What will happen to us when we blame God when things go wrong in our lives, as people so often do?

.. now that is an interesting thought – because, in this age of mass media and instant communication, if God smited someone for losing faith in IT, you would have thought we’d hear? Because people lose faith all the time, and the story of Job is one of the reasons why they do.

So the next question has to be – what changed God? Or did we change one God for another? But that will be for another time.

Love & Peace
Ama