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