Monday, June 21, 2010

Wrath and Love in 5 thousand years

Written by Jenn and I. Read at STATUS by Jenn.


that was my verbal image of the God of the Hebrew scriptures- which we call the Old. Testement. The story I had always been told was one of a vengeful and controlling God, looking to punish the world that He had created for not obeying Him.

And I was fine with believing that because I knew the end of the story- that Jesus had come along. It was easier to focus on Jesus- He was human and kind and loved children- I could hide behind him. If God was the angry parent, than Christ was the parent I could run to.

But to only know the God of the New Testament is to dismiss half the story. I want to be intrigued by the whole story, not just the parts that make me feel good.

Christ and God are not contradictions- but how does that make sense? How can these beautiful stories of Jesus also be the stories of the God found in the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures?

It seemed wretched for God to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians and then send them into the desert for 40 years. But there’s so much more to the story. There’s so much more to be found beyond just the black and white text of our bibles.

The Israelites had been in bondage for 800 years and they simply did not know what it was like to be anything but a slave. They were not educated, they knew of Avraham and his God but in a world of hundreds of gods, they certainly didn’t think He was the only God, just their strange, invisible god.

They had lost their identity to the whips of the Egyptians. They had lost their voice to Pharaoh. And when God rescued them from the only reality they’d ever known, he lead them into the desert for the purposes of teaching them what it meant to be human. He was teaching them how to be whole again. He was teaching them how to govern and how to marry and how to farm and how to not be a slave.

So this is God caring for his people in their toddler years, their teenage years, and Christ is not the opposite, but is looking at the Jews thousands of years later- as they now understood rules, but desperately needed the heart.

So, digging into who our ancient God is, I found more than I expected, so much more than I had been taught. Instead of an angry father or judge, I saw the words of a scorned husband or wife. I read a God who saved, redeemed, fought for his people- people who continually turned their back on him for gods more convenient. Our God, their God, stood completely outside of culture. It took over a thousand years for the Isrealites to even accept this – that their God was the only god- that was how strong the culture of polytheism was. You could not invent a God as ridiculous as the one God of the Jews. And in the time of Jesus the people still could not understand their God who stood outside time- who knew it was better to show love on a cross instead of leading an army.

The ancient scriptures are no longer strange lineages and seemingly insignificant details on how to build a temple or a guide on what kind of food is appropriate. When we take the time to explore what the words on paper meant to the people that lived it, we see a Father that is cultivating a child into an adult.

The entire bible is a story about love, not just the books we prefer to read.

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