"The Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them-- And of you I will make a great nation.'
"But Moses implored the Lord his God... And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that He planned to bring on His people."
After this, Moses does call for "Who is on the Lord's side?"-- which turns out to be the Levites. They go through the camp slaughtering people who hadn't come to Moses-- and in this account, he says their zeal on this occasion has consecrated them as priests.
The alternative would have been a larger 'plague' than the people actually went through. (Interesting: "Plagues" in this world-view are a direct consequence of "idolatry"-- via God's 'Wrath', which we don't need to take to mean literal anger, but which certainly looks like it!)
That story doesn't get into Deuteronomy; and earlier here the Levites are supposed to become priests via their descent from Moses' brother Aaron. So this is a legendary tale promoted later by a priestly caste...
But I think there's something about your view of God as united with the soul... and something about the various gods, spirits, etc people have worshiped, and about God's intentions in forming Israel as a means of blessing all humanity; it's hard to get a grip...
God, as a being overlapping our souls, avoids violating our expectations most of the time. (As in, for example: ~ "Jesus could do no miracles there because people put no faith in him.")
I'm told, and tend to believe, that people are prone to putting their psychic energy into entities outside themselves-- that people tend to create and influence "spirits" by their imaginations & projections. This would be like a local use of the same power God uses globally to create and maintain the world, but so far as it's not integrated into the whole, it would make for conflicts (as in "the Earth was full of violence from them", before the Flood story) and people exerting "power over" rather than sharing power. Then Israel would have been set up to strive against this sort of fragmentation aka "idolatry". (Hinduism, so far as it largely recognizes God as united with human souls: "Atman is Brahma"-- would not really be "idolatry" in that same sense.)
Wow! This says something powerful about humanity's psychic history & the history of religious conflicts, but whatever that is might need more digestion than I have time for now. What do you think?
There is God . . . and then there is a spirit that impersonates God.
Jesus explained this spiritual principal to the disciples many times . . . and they did not understand his words.
In John 16:2 Jesus talks about this spirit, it masquerades itself . . . as if it is God. It has fooled many humans . . . even Moses was fooled by this spirit.
In Luke 9:54-55 the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven . . . to consume a city and Jesus told them again . . . "You do not know what spirit is controlling you."
Again . . . this spirit fools men into thinking that it is the real God. This spirit fooled Saul in the book of Acts . . . and Saul was thinking . . . that he was the good guy and the early church was the bad guy. Saul actually thought that he was on the side of God . . . when in fact he was the deceived . . . ticked . . . bamboozled . . . by this spirit.
We see this spirit at work in Rev. 16:9 and men were scorched with great heat and they blasphemed or blamed God. Also in Rev. 16:11 they blasphemed or blamed the God of heaven for their ulcers and they did not repent of their deeds.
This spirit has been in action since the garden of Eden. It fools mankind into thinking that . . . God gets angry . . . God demands purity . . . God requires that something must die to make him happy, happy, happy, happy!!!!
This spirit causes men to stone other men to death for adultery. It was in charge at the Salem witch trials . . . the Catholic inquisition . . . it causes men to march off to war . . . to blow themselves up and it promises they will get 72 virgins in heaven. The list goes on and on . . . when ever men kill other men in the name of God . . . they have been hoodwinked by this spirit.
In the way I perceive ongoing revelation, I see them as the same God, but that He only revealed parts of himself that would be accepted at the time.
Matthew 19:1-12 is a good example of this. Originally, there was polygamy, but Moses came and instituted monogamy with divorce. But then, Jesus says there shouldn't be divorce. Is this a different God? No, it's just that if Moses had given the full truth, the people would have rejected him because their hearts were hardened. Jesus is saying here that the God of Moses, wasn't a different God, but not a fully revealed God.
Is there any reason to believe that Jesus wasn't also limited in his message due to the culture at the time? Is this not part of the reason we look both to the historical Jesus and the light of Jesus inside of us?
There is human perception, and human projection. Perception-- the intuitive awareness of what we're perceiving-- is typically deeper, less conscious, less overtly 'given' than projection-- the forming of concepts and images. I'm guessing at why that should be...
Stephen Gaskin said our modern models of "communication" worked ~ 'Like someone wrapping a message around a brick, then throwing the brick over the fence for the addressee to unwrap and read.' But really, he said: In ways we usually aren't conscious of, "We're all telepathic."
That distinction between "conscious" and "unconscious" is an elusive one. "An unconscious process" might be thought of as 'like a computer program running in the background while you're looking at something else on the screen.'
Trying to "decode" someone else's communication requires that you try to approximate his thinking (rather than simply accepting his results.) So it makes for more risk of misunderstanding, but also fosters a deeper level of understanding of what he means.
It's like having a teacher who makes you work out your own results.
Trying to get a fix on what concepts/images best fit an object... is in some senses less than a direct experience of the object itself-- but it requires a closer examination of how it's like and unlike other things, how it behaves & what to expect from it.
Hence, mystics tend to understand theologians better than the other way around. The theologian draws a picture that the mystic can see is distorted-- but the mystic's picture is more like being run over by a truck than like an engine diagram.
And blessed are we, if we can see through both these two 'eyes'!
People make images of their friends, their lovers, their very selves. And they make images of God. Making "a false image of God" is a seemingly inevitable result of "trying to make a true image of God."
After making an initial image, you go on having experiences with the actual person hidden behind it. But you might go on looking at the image, and fail to recognize the person. How you treat him, how he reacts may well be influenced by that.
In making the world, God must have known the kind of results he wanted, and the kind of difficulties this implied. Babies imply dirty diapers.
Growing up, humanity has gotten it wrong a few times. And a few more times. It hasn't been easy. But God has been united with us through all of it!
Someday, as I'm given to hope so far, we won't need to die.
Meanwhile, there come times when God evidently finds a death to be best for all concerned. It doesn't mean it's final, from God's perspective. We don't have that perspective, so we shouldn't be making that decision.
If God tells us we should smite our neighbors because their stereo is too loud... or because they're Evil and sitting on vast oil reserves... we're probably connected to our own butts, not to God.
But everyone who came out of Egypt with Moses has since died. Who are we to say how that might have happened differently? If God could have given all those people instant understanding-- without violence to their spiritual development-- we could have been spared a whole lot of history. We weren't.
Wow, coincidence--just the other day, I was poking around the Digital Quaker Collection and came across an essay by George Fox that may be germane to the discussion. It's the one that has to do with the covenant between God and His people, and how Christ changed it. Here's the direct link: http://dqc.esr.earlham.edu:8080/xmlmm/docButton?XMLMMWhat=builtPage...
I struggle a lot with the god of the Old Testament, and reconciling his actions with those of Christ. This thread has given me a lot to think about.
The Digital Quaker Collection is available to the public (I'm not at Earlham anymore). It appears, however, that it doesn't accommodate direct linking to articles (I think it's a limitation of their software rather than an intention to keep the documents away from the public--the whole point of the collection is to share it!). The "login" bit has to do with the way their software runs, and does not actually require any login credentials.
You can get to the essay by either searching or browsing the collection. It's entitled "Clear Distinction Between The Old Covenant, Or Old Testament, And The New Covenant, Or New Testament."
If you choose to browse, go to the letter C, and look at the second page of results--it will be halfway down the page. It also turned up when I searched for "covenant" and specified George Fox as the author.
I'm finding it interesting... in many ways similar to things I've been reading by NT Wright lately (though I doubt Wright would agree about the no longer needing clergy.)
I am wondering about this part:
"And in the old covenant and testament, they that did resist the high priest, and gainsaid Moses, died an outward death by the hands of two or three witnesses. But in the new covenant, they that do neglect to hear the great prophet and high priest (Christ Jesus) whom God hath raised up, like unto Moses, and will not have him to reign over them, nor hear him that speaks from heaven, a more severe punishment comes upon them, than they that died by the hands of two or three witnesses (that did resist Moses;) for that was a natural death in the old covenant, but this is an eternal death in the new covenant.
"And therefore hear the Son of God in the new covenant, and ye shall live; ‘and whilst it is called to day, hear his voice,’ (for ye may be dead before to-morrow.) I say, hear him that speaks from heaven, whose voice shakes the earth, and so all that appertains to the earth, or is earthly; and not the earth only, but the heavens also, that they may appear, which cannot be shaken, to wit, the seed of life. So people was to hear Moses and the high priest in the old covenant and testament: But now they are to hear Christ, their high priest and prophet, that God hath raised up in the new covenant, in his grace, light and spirit. For the law came by Moses, in the old covenant; and all the
people of the Jews was to hear the law in the old covenant, and do it, and live: ‘But grace and truth is come by Jesus Christ,’ in the new covenant and testament of light, life, and grace. And so all the children of the new covenant are to hear Christ in his grace, and to be under the grace, and truth's teaching, which will bring their salvation. "
What I'm wondering... Fox is not 'Universalist' in the traditional "Everyone makes it eventually!" sense of the word. That is, I like it that he's saying that people who aren't learning from Jesus [or 'Christ' in some form] are apt to fall into a kind of "death", because that fits my observations. But he much underestimated the grace of God!
I have some more information . . . to think about . . . regarding the idea about the impersonation of God.
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.
I would like to know your thoughts on who is on the right side of God and who is on the left?