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Author Topic: The Ways of God  (Read 2704 times)


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The Ways of God
« on: July 11, 2003, 09:13:31 AM »
In the OT, God warned us not to add to, or subtract from, the Law. But, unlike how the orthodox, anti-Christian Jew would have it, the account of Abraham's test (and that test spelled out in Hebrews 11:17-19) shows the nature of God's communication: God requires us to think in terms of relevance, not to be robots carrying out commands with no thought as to their purpose. This applies as well to passages recording God's doings which give no commands, such as the passages used by many to support the Trinity idea.

The Jews added to, and subtracted from, the Law by insisting that, if God had wanted us to understand more than what he made explicit in the Law, then he would have made it explicit in the Law, or shall make it explicit as on Mt Sinai. But, this insistence is a law which the Law does not spell out, so this insistence is self-condemning. Even the judges understood that there was much implied in the Law which the Law had not spelled out. God does not demand that we be as computers, with he as the computer programmer. The Jews here were being hyper-literal, and they did so for one reason: to think to be buddies to God by "keeping the (letter of) the Law".

Some ask, skeptical of Jesus' deity, about the passage in which Jesus says that no one but the Father knows the day or the hour of Jesus' return.

First, in the Jewish culture, there was the tradition that a groom's father was the one to decide when his son's efforts to prepare a place for the honeymoon would be complete. The son was under the guidance of his father in this, and, while there comes a time in this preparation work in which the father tells his son within what span of time the work would be finished, only the father had the right to give the go-ahead to his son to return to the bride's father's house to "steal away the bride". The disciples understood the answer Jesus gave in this way, not in the sense that Jesus, as God, did not know the day or hour himself. As the son, he could not answer the question directly without breaking the pattern of prophecy and type. That is what was understood, and it is a call to remember.

Second, history is a trial, and one over which God presides. God will never let slip any advantage from his hand in the conflict with his enemies. Were Christ to have answered what day he was to return, and what would be the exactly-detailed signs of that day, then that day would not come, because the Church, as the Bride, would then never be ready. If you knew what day and hour your boss comes back from a business trip, then, if you are like some employees, you will not attend to the business as you should, but will be irresponsible right up until the day your boss is due to return. God is not stupid in this trial, and he is not a foolish Answerer of Questions, as if the disciples need only ask whatever they please and Jesus must answer them exactly as the Western reader thinks they have demanded. Does God always answer your questions in the manner, and to the detail, that you might wish? God is not a spoiler of his children, but is rather a father who seeks to delegate authority to them. But, he will leave off delegating to those who, in caring for being the best buddy of God *against* their brothers rather than in understanding what their father means by his words and acts, argue for their own superior place with God by making assertions that amount to saying 'Daddy *said* so, so I'm right and you're wrong!"

History is about due process. That is, God is not like a man who vainly repeats himself. God doings are not like that of a small child who, after his stack of blocks gets kicked down, builds the stack again exactly as it was before, only to get it kicked down again and he build it again. God's doings are not vain like this. In the world before the Flood, God left man to his liberty until none but eight people would be saved from their own corruption. God thus proved, to whom it may concern, that fallen man, left to himself without God's input, is incapable either of saving himself or of seeking God. After the flood, God proved, to whom it may concern, that the flood was no deterent warning to proud man: God let man go to the last inch at Babel and then he confounded their language. There were thus multiple competing nations on the earth instead of just one economic/technologic State, and this allowed human history to be extended. God would have destroyed in vain the pre-flood world had he not changed his tactic and instead simply destroyed the post-flood world of Babel with another Flood. With the world thus divided into nations, God could begin to make some even more important points, among them these:  1)God judges each nation individually by the same standard that he judged the pre-flood world.  2)Once the nations had sorted themselves out and made themselves wealthy and enviable, God made a nation *of his own*, and made the world know a true difference between His nation and all the others---a difference the cultural effects of which have continued to the present day. As a way to put a check on human pride, there were thus specific and wise reasons why God acted to confound the language, and not as if he picked this particular action at random.


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Re: The Ways of God
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2003, 08:47:51 PM »
The common-sense take on the manner in which God communicates to an original audience is that God says things to them in their own way-of-language. That is, God would not force the people to have to wade through some kind of Universal Legalese in order for them to understand what God means for them to understand. God will speak to them about what he means like a father speaks to a small child about, say, how an airplane flies. A good father will not force the child to have to wade through an introductory course on Advanced Aerodynamics in order for the child to be able to understand something about how an airplane flies. That this understanding is not passed down perfectly to all individuals in all future generations is not God's fault. God expects a person to deal in common sense anyway, and common sense is how a person understands anything in the first place. Just keep the pictures in your mind from corrupting your ideas of what a given case is about.

Abraham, in being requested by God to sacrifice Isaac, did not see the request itself as the issue (as if an unthinking robotic compliance is what a good father God really wants from his children). Rather, what Abraham saw as the issue was why. Otherwise, he would not have acted in compliance to such a request. Nor, would God have requested it, for God is not an epistemological despot (like most people are, either by intent or accident, to command to accept ideas, or to do actions, that the one being commanded has to give up some integrity in order to comply).

Loyalty and truthfulness are two covenant values that must be held in tension against one another. Loyalty binds us together. The truth sets us free. If one value is emphasized over the other, then serious problems develop and both values will become distorted.
If loyalty is overemphasized, then only affirmation will be given and heard as feedback. If truth telling is practiced without love and without loyalty, it does not build but tears down.
If truthfulness is considered a fundamental component of loyalty, then the organization will be built on integrity.
If loyalty is considered a fundamental component of truthfulness, then the organization will have true unity.

Abraham was found the Loyal Friend of the God Who Is True.

I believe history is a trial, and over which God presides; that everything God says and does is designed to force fallen men, over time, to fully realize that they are the one's being tried, and to show them that they have, even from the beginning, been implicitly guilty of every error; that it is man who destroys the truth; that is is man who warps his own understanding (superstition). I believe this is the context for all Biblical data.

Some object to me and, partly parroting Orthodox summary statements, say "History is not a trial, it is *God's working out of his plan for his glory*." Others have said to me that man is not on trial because he has already been found guilty (in Eden). But, the first objection shows a shallow understanding and thus poses a false dichotomy, while the second fails to account for the implication of the first: that man is tried for his guilt in even refusing salvation; God has not yet given the ultimate verdict. History is not a simple, one-time trail in which the criminal is found guilty of a crime, sentenced, and immediately punished. The trial goes on because man insists on trying to prove to all concerned (especially to himself) that he can save himself - which is, in effect, a counterclaim against God's claim of Creator.

While there is indeed a wisdom that can be expressed by the words "lean not on your own understanding", those very words are often twisted by Christians to mean something that is actually an oppression (ask "good"-Christian-preacher-turned-atheist Dan Barker about that), namely that one should avoid seeking to understand anything that God says and does unless he has already taken the initiative, as recorded in the Bible, of telling you what he means by his words and actions. Most of the Bible is a record not of God's speech and actions, but of the accounts of human lives and nations; no Christian scholar will say that the nature of these accounts can be understood at 'face value'; he will say that the reader of these acounts must be test them for their fit with whatever premises/contexts that can be brought to bear (which is called 'abductive inference', used so well by William Dembsky in arguing for Intelligent Design in biology).  It is entirely possible for a grossly dogmatic "truth-oriented" elder to oppress a child so that the child seeks the narrow path of the simple truth out of a simple, narrow mind, just like the elder does. Just because we are as sheep does not mean that we must be forced to become as much like sheep as our elders can manage to make us. When Jesus said his burden was light, whose burden was he comparing it to? Everyone else's. The right and the good should not be sacrificed for the supposedly necessary and desirable. Be anxious for nothing. God is a teacher, a good father of wayward children.

At  http://www.torahbytes.org/58-8.htm  it says:

Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,
because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome
(Genesis 28:12).
In this week's portion Jacob faces his dreaded moment. He left his homeland originally because his brother Esau had vowed to murder him. Now as Jacob returns over twenty years later, he prepares to meet Esau.
Like the other challenges of his life, he has a plan. He thinks he may be able to pacify his brother's anger by giving him a great number of livestock. Placing his entourage between himself and Esau's company, he waits alone.
All through that night God wrestles with Jacob. And though God injures him, Jacob won't let go until God blesses him.
Much speculation could be made as to the meaning of this event. But we do know two things. God did bless him with a new name and by morning he was ready to meet Esau face to face. Jacob never settled for the way things were and constantly strove for what he wanted. Yet here at the end of his rope, he struggles with God himself and emerges a new man.
We can question Jacob's motivation and methods in his dealings with life and people. But in this story, like the others, his striving is towards God and not away from him. I believe this is why God blessed him.
As we go through life, there are so many things that cause us to struggle with God. Sadly many people choose to turn away from him instead of wrestling through. Unanswered questions, disappointments, bereavements, injustices tempt us to pull away. But those who seek God, believing in his goodness, love and faithfulness in spite of circumstances, find a blessing and emerge in newness just like Jacob.

There was a wise and powerful king who wished to prove, for all concerned, as to the loyalty of all his subjects to his laws for the poor. So, he disguised himself as a pauper and went through his kingdom living as a pauper. The pauper began his life by asking many questions to all the judges which the king had long ago appointed, and later began teaching and caring for the poor like himself. He quickly became very famous among the poor, and was to them as the king himself.

At some point the pauper charged some of the wicked judges with the intent to condemn him to the dungeon and throw away the key. They denied this, of course, because they had no reason, they thought, to condemn this good pauper to the dungeon---and now they wondered at his sanity for making such a charge.

The more the pauper taught and healed, the more the people of the kingdom asked, "Who is this pauper?" Some of the people realized that the pauper was the king, for no one but the king could say or do the things that the pauper said and did. As the fame of the pauper grew, the wicked judges felt threatened, because the people saw in the pauper something greater than what the people saw in these wicked judges. The pauper even seemed to claim to have perfect authority over the judges, and this made the judges mad. How dare the pauper presume to be equal to the king. Even the king himself had said, long ago, that "The king is not a pauper", and these wicked judges stuck to this truth---or, so they thought.

Many of the people who realized that the pauper is the king wondered when he would take his throne and punish these wicked judges. Others, who did not believe that the pauper is the king, yet expected the pauper soon to assume military power and free the kingdom from oppression, just like other men of old had done. Just like old times. But, the king is no simple man, and will not repeat himself in vain.

These wicked judges came so to hate the pauper's truth that they began conspiring to condemn him to the dungeon, just as he had said that they were guilty of doing. Eventually, they were able to trick up enough support to have the pauper condemned to the dungeon. So, to the dungeon he was condemned, and he stayed down there for a little while. He stayed down in the dungeon just as many days as there are realms of proof, as yet another reminder to those who would become worthy to be made true delegates of the king's authority. Now, finally, the king has proved the full extent of the wicked pride of the judges and of the selfish willingness of the people to be mislead. The king has now allowed them every last measure of liberty to have a change of heart. Guess who has been wearing the royal key?

Now, what purposes did the pauper serve? Answer: 1)the living fulfillment of the king's laws, and, in combination with this  2)to be looked up to by the poor as their representative to the king.

Finally, look at that charge made by the pauper against the wicked judges: he had charged them with the intent to condemn him to the dungeon. Were they guilty of this at the time he leveled that charge? They thought not, but they were wrong. They didn't yet know how much truth he would speak. Once they realized his influence with his words of life, which he had in him all along, they began to plot to do just as he had said they were already guilty of plotting. They were guilty from the start, because of who they were in relation to who he Is.

Do We need a Representative before God?
Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel
over his heart…(Exodus/Shemot 28:29).

Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first Israelite priest (Hebrew: Ko-hen). The above statement captures the essence of the priest's role in Israeli society. By bearing the names of the people of Israel over his heart, Aaron was the people's representative before God.
God was then, as he is now, accessible to all people. Yet the establishment of the priesthood put limits upon that accessibility. God's nature demanded that certain measures had to be taken to get near to him. Some may not like the idea of a specially appointed person representing us and our needs before God. But the reality of the situation is that because of our sinful nature we can not handle being in God's presence.
God's desire was not to be distant form us. On the contrary, God wants to be with his people. He wants every barrier between us and him removed. But until we recognize this distance, we will never be near to him.
If we could accept that our present moral and spiritual condition prevents us from entering God's presence, we may also be ready to accept God's provision of an appointed representative.
The priesthood, however, never brought us closer to God. Year after year it was only the priest who drew near. But their ministry was not an end in itself. It foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah.
Yeshua embodied the ancient priesthood. He gave himself sacrificially so that we could gain full access to God's presence. What the priests illustrated, Yeshua actually did.
And today, like Aaron of old, Yeshua bears the names of his people over his heart.


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