Day 151

This is the Mew of project days. If we were going by the Hebrew calendar, which features 30-day months, I’d be just over five months. And honestly, that’s about right anyway. It was just in my mind because I had a conversation about end-time prophecies with a Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine, and he was explaining some of the Biblical rationale behind the significance of the year 1914. It involved the Hebrew calendar. So that’s that.

Anyway, on to today’s news.


Numbers 34

We’re down to three days ’til Deuteronomy. Huzzah!

Numbers 34 outlines, literally, the boundaries of the land that God has granted to Israel. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this chapter, so I turned as I do to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

“Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known.”

So this is what confused me. This issue raises questions.

If God eventually through Christ wants to save all men, then why did he not reveal himself to all mankind? I don’t really like the Calvinist view that some are simply condemned to Hell no matter what. To me, that presumes that free will is nothing but an illusion, as those who make the choice to accept God/Christ have already been predestined to do so.

I mean, let’s presume we’re talking about sometime between 1000-2000 years BC. In China, the dynasties are already in full force; there are millions of people the world over that are essentially denied salvation due to God’s selection of the Israelites as His chosen people. Why? Is every single one of the people in the world so corrupted? Then why send Christ later, to give everyone a chance?

I’m not going to get into Revelations for answers; it’s too far off. But in terms of ideas related to Heaven and Hell, I’ll post these helpful links.

The first is related to the Jewish tradition, the second and third are from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their beliefs may be a tad unorthodox but damn if they don’t know how to cite the Bible. As for me, I’m not sure how I feel on this yet. The only thing I can say is that a full and complete denial of salvation to a huge part of the world sounds unthinkable.

I did find this, an article about the Seven Laws of Noah. Apparently, gentiles are not only not obligated to follow Jewish law, they are in some sense prohibited from following it, as they are not God’s chosen people. But according to the Noahide law and interpretation from various Hebrew scholars, the intention was that even gentiles had the chance to be righteous by following the law. Apparently, it was important to recognize God as the reason behind the law as well.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll revisit this theological discussion at several points throughout the course of this project, and maybe by the time I’m done I’ll have a satisfying answer.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 148-150

Numbers 31

return of balaam(deep inhale)

Ahem.

He dies.

Over the course of the invasion of Midian by the Israelites, there is a quick, almost throwaway line about Balaam being put to the sword. Doops. As C.S. Lewis wrote, and as I have previously quoted, some men serve God as sons while others serve as tools. It seems like this tool outlived his usefulness.

In other news, the Israelites burn the towns and rape the fields, or something. Or maybe they plunder the fields, steal the towns, and rape the livestock. I think I’m getting my war stuff mixed up.

But seriously, they put all the men and boys to the sword, kill any woman who is not a virgin, and take all the virgins.

It is interesting to note that anyone who killed another human, even in what might be called a “righteous war,” is considered unclean and must be cleansed. At times, it seems, force may be necessary, but that makes it no less distasteful.

Articles must also be cleansed with fire or water, as appropriate.

The commanders, it is written, did not lose a single man in the battles, and so they return to Moses and Eleazar and offer them gold articles as an offering to the Lord. The articles are taken as a memorial for the Israelites.

A point of note in this chapter: the Lord is given His tribute, which is entrusted to Eleazar the priest. The Levites are given a portion of the tribute as well. It is important in our victories to give credit, to pay tribute, to the Lord and to those who lead us as His servants. The Levites abdicated their worldly inheritance in exchange for their divine obligation. Even though those who serve God must renounce certain worldly pleasures, in time they will be given their own rewards, as appropriate for their service.


Numbers 32

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this chapter, and Mr. Henry’s concise commentary is little help.

Basically, a couple of the tribes request the recently conquered land so that they may build cities and have fields for their livestock. They would rather live there than in Canaan, and Moses goes off on them for this. He condemns them thus in Numbers 32, verses 14-15:

“…a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”

Matthew Henry does make a good point here:

“If men considered as they ought what would be the end of sin, they would be afraid of the beginning of it.”

Moses outlines the consequences of the sin of these tribes and they quickly attempt to find a solution. They offer to send their armies out ahead of the other tribes, and vow not to return to their lands until all of Canaan is in the hands of the Israelites. Moses warns them of the consequences of not keeping their word, but allows them to make this vow.

Here’s what I don’t get. They deny the inheritance, the Promised Land offered them by the Lord. And yet, by making this vow to support and to lead ahead of their brother tribes, they seem to be doing fine.

What I’m wondering is, is this a case like Balaam, several chapters ago, where God finally just gives them what they want and allows them to sin, regardless of how detestable? Or is this something else, some kind of alternative?

It seems to me closer to the first one. If they don’t want the Promised Land of Canaan, then God isn’t going to force them to take it. There is no one dragging us to heaven. We have to seek it and (most of all) accept it for ourselves.


Numbers 33

This chapter features a summary of the travels of the Israelites. I’m glad this exists because let me tell you, this journey has been really hard to follow. I think someone knew that people wouldn’t want to keep track of everything, and so here outlined it. Huzzah!

I feel like there is another quick point I can make here: there are things that are not in the Bible because they do not relate to the relationship between man and God. The Bible is not a textbook; it does not explain the mechanisms by which the world operates nor the methods by which God interacts physically with the world. The miracles are important; the methods maybe not so much. It is important to remember that miracles are possible; the opening of Balaam’s mouth by God was just as miraculous as His giving a voice to a donkey.

The travels of the Israelites are probably important. Matthew Henry explains that the Israelites were led forward and backward, all over by the guidance of the Lord.

“The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way.”

The Israelites are commanded, when they go into Canaan, to destroy the temples and crush the idols, and to drive the people away. God warns (Numbers 33:55) that anyone left

will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.”

It is important to note that this is metaphorical; we must eradicate all traces of our sin, and especially of outward temptation. We must guard ourselves carefully against temptation, lest it threaten our inheritance, lest it threaten the gifts that God has for us.


Good day to you all. Peace be upon you.

Day 147

Numbers 29

Moses outlines the festivals that followers of the Lord are commanded to celebrate. Interestingly enough, celebration was the topic at last Sunday’s sermon, which… took place on the day after I was supposed to write about Numbers 29.

The problem with the sermon, as well-meaning as I believe the pastor to have been, is that it sounded a lot like “if you’re somber or sad, then you’re not being a good Christian.” This is a little too close to what has been called prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel. To quote Wikipedia,

“Prosperity theology teaches that Christians are entitled to well-being and, because physical and spiritual realities are seen as one inseparable reality, this is interpreted as physical health and economic prosperity.”

It is also noted that followers and preachers of the prosperity gospel view poverty and sickness as spiritual ailments or curses that can be alleviated through faith. My partner has had some very negative experiences with churches that follow prosperity theology.

Poverty and illness are curses? Yeah, I mean it’s a damn shame to be sick or poor, and I believe that dedicated faith can lead to greater willpower and desire which can in turn lead to financial success. However, I don’t think that God’s plan for people involves or guarantees financial well-being. Poverty is not a sign of God’s disfavor.

Can poor personal habits and a lack of direction lead to poverty? Yes. But I don’t think that physical, material wealth has much to do with faith in Christ.

I see this situations as teaching surrender to God and His will, as opposed to undesirable curses. Does being poor debilitate a person? Damn right it does. I’ve lived with it for a long time, and sitting around that poverty line is depressing. It emotionally and spiritually drains you. Or it can.

But regardless, God can and will give you the strength to work through it, if you ask. “Thy will be done, in all things.” I seriously hate the phrase “Let go and let God,” but it’s important to ask that His will be done, that He may guide you to it.

Can the principles in the Bible teach you to be rich? Probably? I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I’m willing to bet that if that’s the motivation one has while reading it, one will find a variety of implementable tips or lessons for financial success.

And just to be clear, I have no problem with people who want to be rich. I myself am determined to achieve some measure of wealth, to surpass my parents and my family, to provide for my own family and possible future children.

However, I think we, especially as Christians, have to see wealth as a means and not an end. Wealth as an end is idolatrous. But with wealth, one can do many things and help many others. We should seek to do our best as Christians even in poverty, but if we are wealthy, then our goal should still be to serve and glorify God.

Bill Gates is probably my favorite example of a wealthy person who does amazing things with his riches. Go to the website of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Read the 2014 annual letter. If that doesn’t restore some of your faith in humanity, I don’t know what will.

Wealth and power are responsibilities. Health and stability may be gifts if God intends them to be, but they may make us complacent.

“[A]s there may be pleasures in Hell (God shield us from them), there may be something not all unlike pains in Heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).”

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

In Numbers 29, the Israelites are commanded to celebrate, but every day of these festivals and celebrations involves sacrifices and offerings to God. Even, or especially, in our celebrations, we are told to humble ourselves to God, to supplicate ourselves before Him, and to glorify Him in all things.

In sorrow and in joy, do not forget the Lord.


Numbers 30

Oh my goodness, I went and looked at Matthew Henry’s unabridged commentary. It made my head hurt a little.

Numbers 30 concerns the making of vows, oaths, and pledges. Basically, at its core, this chapter states that a man who makes a vow must not break his word.

That’s a quote, by the way: “[H]e must not break his word but must do everything he said.”

This chapter also outlines how fathers and husbands have the power to override vows made by their daughters and wives, respectively. I think this is meant to be indicative of the Biblical position of fathers/husbands as the heads of households, which I think is intended to correlate with how God (the Father) is meant to be the head of the Church, both as a collective and as the singular body of worship that one human being offers.

Now, I don’t have the book in front of me, but I am reminded of the book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. If I recall correctly, he talks at some point(s) about the importance of keeping one’s word or speaking the truth. Or maybe I’m thinking of The Four Agreements, in which I know for a fact the author Don Miguel Ruiz outlines the importance of what he calls “being impeccable with [one’s] word.”

“Impeccable,” by the way, comes from a Latin word, meaning “not liable to sin.” An impeccable word is free of sin.

The way I see it, breaking vows erodes the strength of one’s soul. You make a habit of being disingenuous, of saying things that you have no intention of following through upon, of being careless in word and in deed. There is some Biblical support for this, I think:

“Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”

— Ecclesiastes 5:5

Keep those words and deeds in line, dear readers! Keep that soul strong, exercise the power of your will, that you may have more dedication to offer to God.

Peace be upon you.

Day 145

So we’re only about eight (8) days away from the end of Numbers, and then I’ll move on to Deuteronomy. Very exciting. I think I’m going to start reading ahead at some point. It’s difficult right now because, honestly, as I’ve said before, these chapters get really tedious.

I’ll hit the highlights of Numbers 22- 28.


Numbers 22

I had to consult Matthew Henry on this one.

So Balak wants to destroy Israel but fears he cannot for their army is to strong. So he calls on this guy named Balaam, that Balaam might curse Israel and allow Balak, king of Moab, to triumph against them. Balaam prays to God and God tells him not to go with the messengers, because the people of Israel are blessed, and he shall not curse them. Balaam accordingly tells the messengers that he shall not be going with them, and that is that.

Balak, however, does not take “no” for an answer, and sends more messengers to Balaam. Balaam suggests that they spend the night, that he may speak again to God about this matter. This time, God tells him to go with the men if they call him.

So Balaam rises in the morning and goes with the men. His path is blocked by an “Angel of the Lord” which the donkey can see but Balaam cannot. Three times the donkey does not proceed forward and three times Balaam strikes the donkey. At this point, God, in one of his interesting moods, opens the mouth of the donkey and she speaks to Balaam. He takes this surprisingly well, all things considered, and argues back as to why he was justified in beating the animal.

At this point, his eyes are opened to the Angel before him, which tells him that the donkey had the good sense to not press on, and it’s a good thing too, because the Angel would have slain him. Balaam tells the Angel that he admits his sin and will turn back. The Angel says, no, go on ahead this time, for realsies, but only say what God tells you to say.

The thing that confused me here is that Balaam asked God if he could go, and God said yes. But, as Matthew Henry explains, Balaam already knew what God’s will was. He asked again in hopes that he could disobey it with permission. From Matthew Henry:

“He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart’s lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.”

But, even though God did grant Balaam leave to go, God does not approve of the sin. Henry puts this best, so I’ll just leave this quote here:

“We must not think, that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin, and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God’s displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently, through the difficulties Providence lays in their way. The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man’s voice. The ass complained of Balaam’s cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed.”

And far from turning away from sin, Balaam is pushed toward glorifying God, because he will not only not curse Israel, he will bless them in the name of God. As he does in…


Numbers 23-24

Matthew Henry makes some really good points here about Balaam’s attempts at divination and sorcery.

“With the camps of Israel full in view, Balaam ordered seven altars to be built, and a bullock and a ram to be offered on each. Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at man’s beck! The curse is turned into a blessing, by the overruling power of God, in love to Israel. God designed to serve his own glory by Balaam, and therefore met him. If God put a word into the mouth of Balaam, who would have defied God and Israel, surely he will not be wanting to those who desire to glorify God, and to edify his people; it shall be given what they should speak. He who opened the mouth of the ass, caused the mouth of this wicked man to speak words as contrary to the desire of his heart, as those of the ass were to the powers of the brute. The miracle was as great in the one case as in the other.”

Get it? God opened the mouth of the ass. I’m glad I went to read from the commentary now because that’s actually pretty funny. Balaam’s ordeal here reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis:

“A merciful man aims at his neighbour’s good as so does ‘God’s will,’ consciously co-operating with ‘the simple good’.  A cruel man oppresses his neighbour and so does simple evil.  But in doing such evil he is used by God, without his knowledge or consent, to produce the complex good — so that the first man serves God as a son, and the second as a tool.  For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

This is one of my favorite quotes from Lewis. Also, the more I think about it, this raises a really interesting point. If at our best, highest states, our will is compatible and not only that but is in line with God’s will… see, this is what I mean about our souls being like extensions of God. We are divine souls trapped in animal bodies. Not divine in the sense that we are literally God, but divine in the sense that we are, at our core, in harmony with His Essence. Perhaps this is why there exists the idea of Hell, or destruction of the soul. I’ve thought as of late that if there is such a thing as Hell or (in my opinion) destruction of the soul, Nothingness, then it is not God who directly condemns our soul to this place. I think it is us. We choke this soul, we starve it, weaken it by depriving it of what it so desires most, what it needs, which is to return to the God and the Good from whence it came.

We condemn ourselves to death. I know not whether this is the truth, I merely espouse it as an interesting idea. I know not what condemns one to Hell, or how much or how little sin one must commit. I know not how many forms repentance can take, nor how many ways one may be unshackled from sin. But I do find the idea intriguing. Ultimately, Hell or destruction or Nothing or whatever it may be, if it be, I feel is a natural consequence, an inescapable state of mind/being than a direct divine condemnation.

But I’ll have to read further on that.

So anyway, Balak attempts to get Balaam to curse Israel three separate times, and three times Balaam blesses Israel. The third time, he doesn’t even try divination, but opens himself up to the Holy Spirit and speaks the words that God has given. Balaam is an important Biblical figure, I think, even though I have never heard of him. He’s an ass, clearly, but God uses Balaam’s voice to carry His word, and in the end, Balaam gives himself over to God. He seems to just go on his merry way afterward, so hopefully he goes and does good, and hopefully we will too.


Numbers 25

Israel starts consorting (as they, and we, are wont to do) with undesirable people, in this case, the Moabites. So God starts another mass killing/plague, and at some point in the middle of all this, Phinehas, son of Eleazar, see’s an Israelite man bring in and show off a Midianite woman. So Phinehas grabs a javelin, heads into their tent, and kills them both in one mighty thrust. It’s the kind of thing that you’d see in an action movie. I’ve heard one interpretation that says that the man and woman were having sex at the time.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.denofgeek.us/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/02-commando.jpg

Death by aluminum pipe. Commando (1985).

Phinehas is a regular Arnold Schwarzenegger. (I’m hoping there was a one-liner involved.)

Also, the woman’s name was Cozbi?

https://i2.wp.com/www.nndb.com/people/674/000022608/cosby-medium.jpg
Look at it.
https://i2.wp.com/kvly.images.worldnow.com/images/24527103_BG1.jpg
LOOK AT IT!

Numbers 26

More genealogy and census stuff. They’re numbering all the men of Israel to figure out who is going to be able to go to war.

Oh, yeah! This chapter is why I remembered Korah, because in Numbers 26:9-11, it mentions some of his descendents and clarifies that not all the children of Korah died when he and his family were swallowed up by the earth. I forget whether I mentioned this back when it happened, but I feel like the moral of that story is that one person going against God and Goodness can bring down (get it?) their entire family.

Anyway, there’s a ton of Israelites, and the Bible is clear on the fact that aside from two guys, Caleb and Joseph, “there was not a man [among them] of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 26:64). Because, if you recall, all of those losers were condemned to death and told that they would never make the Promised Land.


Numbers 27

Chapter 27 in Numbers describes some stuff about inheritance law for a man without sons.

Following that, God tells Moses that he will (eventually?) go up Mount Abarim and see the land that has been given to the children of Israel. However, at the mountain, he shall be “gathered to [his] people” as Aaron was as a result of Moses’ disobedience and rebellion at the waters of Meribah. Moses pleads that God will find a suitable replacement, that the people will not be “like sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17).

God tells Moses that he shall inaugurate Joshua, son of Nun, and give him some of Moses’ authority, that Joshua may stand by Eleazar the priest, son of Aaron.

Moses does this.


Numbers 28

There is so much in here about sacrifices that I finally turned to Matthew Henry again. I would go read that if you are interested. Basically he talks about how in a modern Christian sense, offerings of animals have to be reinterpreted as offerings of prayer and praise. This chapter therefore indicates that we should pray and praise God in the morning and in the evening.

The Bible also describes offerings for the Sabbath day, the beginnings of the month, Passover, which falls on the fourteenth day of the first month which is followed on the fifteenth day by the feast, which lasts a week. Then God discusses the offerings for the day of the firstfruits, which I’m presuming has to do with a harvest.

Oy, I do love all this reading.

Good night, all! Peace be upon you.

Day 139 – 144

We have reached Day 12×12 in this long journey. Of course, they haven’t all been properly accompanied by consecutive blog posts, but there’s nothing I can do about the past. All I can do is pick up where I leave off and continue forward.

Prior to writing about Numbers, I feel like sharing a transcription of a recording I made on July 5, 2014. I had intended to share it that day, but the recording is 24 minutes long and will take some time to transcribe. You, lucky reader, get to enjoy the end result without the delay. I know my partner is going to think I’m insane, so all I can say is read all the way to the end of the post, dear, before coming to conclusions. I know you’ll reach some prior to the end, but hey, I figured I’d throw in a disclaimer anyway.

(Except, you know, it’s been six days since I’ve updated. So there’s that.)


I had an interesting revelation today; it was quiet and I’m not even sure where it came from or why I was even thinking about it, now. But I was thinking about why… why are we created? And supposedly our purpose, supposedly according to some Christians, is to worship and glorify God, right? So we’re created from nothing, born into existence, meaninglessly it seems, but with the purpose of giving glory and praise to the Lord.

And I was thinking, “why should this be?” To some people, that’s not… maybe, don’t ask questions, but I think it’s important to ask questions. So, my question is “Why?” Because there are two things at play here: one of them is, “what do we get out of it as human beings?” and the second is “what does God get out of it?”

Now, C.S. Lewis talked about God as a Being which by definition can need nothing. God is all-fulfilling, all-encompassing, and if you ask me, God is literally present everywhere within everything. God is the life of the universe. So if all of us are contained within God, or if you don’t like that explanation, if that theory comes off as blasphemous, then you have to admit that we are all at least within the mind of God, because God, being an omniscient Being, knows everything that is happening and everything that is going to happen, and as far as I can tell, God is past, present, future, so we either exist as part of this manifestation of “the body” of God, or the manifestation of the existence of God, or we exist in the “real world” but everything we do is part of God’s mind. If God literally knows everything, then this is the mind of God. The universe is the mind of God, unless God has an entire duplicate simulation of the universe running inside His mind where everything else is true because He knows everything but just not technically real, an illusion. But I digress.

What was I talking about?

What do we get out of glorifying and worshiping God? There are some Eastern faiths that talk about how God or the Supreme Being or whatever, that God essentially dreamed the world into being specifically so that He could see what it was like to be everything. That’s almost like the universe is like a computer kind of thing, moving forward and moving forward and running what would amount to a simulation, so that God can be it, observe it, and know every possible state of matter and energy, ever. And I guess if you look at what I said earlier, about omniscience, it would seem that God would already know that. But like C.S. Lewis said about Abraham and Issac, just because God knew… God knew that Abraham would not sacrifice his son, He also knew that Abraham would not need to sacrifice his son. Abraham did not know that, though. Lewis says something along the lines of “just because God knows something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to happen.”

If you take that Eastern religion philosophy, then we are all a trick, a surprise. God became the world and everything in it and we are pieces of that divine consciousness out to experience the world as a surprise. We don’t know what’s coming. Does the one massive infinite timeless Intelligence know what’s coming? Yeah. But we have forgotten ourselves, and I think that’s the idea behind whatever exactly it is that I’m citing from. The Oneness-That-Is dreamed us all into being in partial states so that we would collectively play out life. Not just every physical state of matter and every energetic state of matter, but every mental, physical, and emotional state of human beings.

When I think about stuff like this I think about “many-worlds theory” and wonder if there are infinite parallel universe where infinite things are happening to me right now. There are infinite life-paths for a human being but we experience one of them. All the other ones are being experienced some where (?) else for lack of a better word, but I’m experiencing one possible run-through of my life. I ‘m experiencing one possible path for my life, and for me right now it seems like the only possible path, but maybe if there are truly many worlds, then it is not. This is the one for me me, and somewhere else there is another me who feels that his path is the one that makes the most sense, and maybe on and on through all people, and it’s not just infinite variations of my person, my body, going through life, it’s endless permutations of that one body changed and changed and ever so slightly different across the dimensions, so really it would be… infinite versions of all people, that the  infinite versions I’m talking about become all people across all time.

Because if you take me and you set infinite variably on things like age and temperament and whatever else, it’s like, “Oh, you’ve just described the entire human population. You’ve described every possible person that is was and will be.” So, who knows about this “many-worlds” business.

But anyway, so… we are… See, but that’s true! If we are tiny bits of consciousness, then God knows what’s going to happen to us; He knows what’s going to happen to us and He knows what it would feel like from our perspective. But in order for Him to know that in a timeless sense, at some point it would have to happen or He would have to at least imagine it happening. But to fully imagine what it would mean for, say, me to be placed in a certain situation, you would need to create a universe around it.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

— Carl Sagan

You would have to construct a universe around it, because if you were God and you could literally feel and see and comprehend everything, then each endless variation of what I as a human do is a butterfly effect of endless variations, and it might not seem like that on the macro scale of human life, but every time I move my hand, I displace millions of air molecules, so if I turn my head one way once, and another way another time, not only is there the macro scale of what I saw and what I didn’t see, but there is a micro scale of tiny particles of dust and down to atoms and whatever that are displaced every time I move my body, and that doesn’t even count the micro scale of all the movements of my muscles and my brain and the energy and the cells… That doesn’t even account for all that.

So in order for God to imagine all of these things… well you could say, “Why would He create a universe? He could just imagine it,” then we are living in that imagination. I posit that God imagining the universe into existence, and creating a physical universe into existence, are one and the same thing, and for we living in that creation/imagination, we could never tell the difference. So in order to truly be omniscient, God has to create the universe. God has to create a universe, and I don’t know how laws of physics work on weird scales, or if there are multiple created universes, so that God can know all possible variations of the laws of physics, or all possible whatever , but here we are.

So I guess that would be what God gets out of it… in a sense… God creates a universe of beings somewhere between animal and man… or somewhere between animal and God, because in Genesis we are made, depending on your translation, in the likeness of God. That doesn’t necessarily mean that God looks like a human being; it means that we are made with many of the capacities of God, and active consciousness that can be aware of the self is probably one of those capacities.

In addition to other things, we can conceive of ourselves as beings. So we have “power” to do things because we can sort-of-depending-on-who-you-ask direct our own bodies and minds to action. So somewhere between animal and God, we exist. We are like partial consciousness. We are a partial consciousness. We are not the infinite divine consciousness, nor are we the more limited, for lack of a better word, more limited animal consciousness, although, true, some animals do appear to display human-like intelligence, emotion, and behavior, but anyway…

What is it that makes humans so different? Our capacity to build and form large societies and have large complex thoughts like the ones I’m having now where I’m questioning the very nature of the universe and God and our lives… still we are a partial consciousness. Because the infinite consciousness is filled with joy, love, and bliss, our chance is, as these partial consciousnesses, to strive for that. We have the capacity to strive for more, and we have the ability, the blessing, as much as I say it now, I might disagree with it while I suffer, but we have the blessing of starting with nothing, the blessing of being these imperfect, incomplete, very wound-able, very destroyable beings. And the blessing that comes with that is that we know what it is like without infinite bliss and joy, we know what it’s like without feeling this endless love and power flowing through us, we know what it’s like to not have it. We know what it’s like to be separate from God and in a sense separate from ourselves.

And so when we find God, when we find and accept the things that make our minds and bodies feel Good, capital-G Good, we can truly appreciate them; we can truly appreciate how far we have come and how much we have gone through to reach the point where we can, I’m going to say, commune with the mind and the energy of God, a place where we can truly be at one with God, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or whatever that looks like.

It seems to me that isn’t this the essence of the story of the prodigal son, that it’s not that we were perpetually living in a a state of bliss and happily stayed there forever and ever, it’s that we, being imperfect creatures, we have within ourselves a rebellious streak: our own egos which constitute a rebel stronghold that drives us to push back against God, to feel like we can do it ourselves, to feel that we have all the answers, and that we need nothing else.

But we do need something else, and so like the prodigal son, we return to our Father’s house and our Father rejoices that we have come back, because we have learned so much out in the world. We have learned so many things, we laid down our rebel flags and came back…

If we were as the brother in that story, then we would have stayed home, we would never have left in the first place, but of the two brothers, the one who stayed and the one who left, who do you think truly appreciates his Father’s company?


Holy shit. So as a result of writing all that I started looking up things on Wikipedia. I started with

  • Omniscience
    • Pantheism
      • Panentheism (not to be confused with the above)
        • Immanence
          • Light of Christ (LDS theology)

But I went back to panentheism and found it fascinating. From there, I found a link to a concept called Tzimtzum, which is transliterated, sort of, from a Hebrew word meaning “contraction” or “withdrawal.” Basically the implication here is that God “contracted” Himself (?) in order to create an “empty space” where the world could exist outside of His totality but still have aspects of His presence. An interesting related quote, apparently from Rabbinic literature is

“He is the Place of the World, but the World is not His Place.”

This concept is interesting because it creates a paradox (at least to us as humans) in that it requires some simultaneous degree of immanence and transcendence from God. God cannot be totally within the world, but He cannot be completely absent from it either. According to Kabbalistic thought on this topic, creation requires God’s immanence.

Paradoxes? Possible illusions of reality? A dualistic God that is simultaneously in two states at once in relation to the world?

This is that I would amend in the above story and in all previous statements. I do not believe that God is confined to this world. That is where I differ from pantheism. God is in everything (or vice versa, or both) but everything is not God (and vice versa).

I like the divine dream/divine consciousness theory more and more, that we are dreamed into existence by God, and that this dreaming is equivalent in all respects to what we would consider a separate physical Creation. But! I don’t know how much this all matters, because philosophies on the origin of the universe tell me little about how to live my life in the universe. So, whatever.

But damn if it ain’t interesting conversation.


Yeah, I’m not going to write about Numbers after all that. Way too much time transcribing and editing.

Tomorrow, though. I’ll get to it and get caught up to Numbers 28.

Good night, all. I hope it’s been as interesting for you as it has been for me.

Peace be upon you.

https://shamanicdoxology.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/07f09-appeltaart252812529.jpg

Day 138

Woo! Even though it’s day 138, this is post 100! I used only the finest graphical arts programs to generate appropriate banners for this momentous occasion.

 

 

post1002

post1001

Woo! Post 100!

Of course, that means somehow I missed 38 days of proper updates. Woo…

I’ve gotten to the point where I prefer doing my blog to doing work. That doesn’t seem to be too much of a surprise. Work is stressing me out. Plus I went to urgent care today for some weird issue only to pay them $50 and get billed later for some X-Rays for them to tell me that it’s [best guess] and it’ll go away on its own. Whee.

Anyway, it’s taking me like 2 hours to write this post because I’m distracted.

Let’s get on with…


Numbers 21

Oh goodness, it’s long.

But! After having read it, it’s not too bad. Full of Israeli military conquests. A little odd/appropriate considering recent real-world news.

However! The part that I found interesting about this chapter has to do with serpents!

As some of you may know, I sort of have a thing about snakes.

indiana-jones-snakes

Not quite like this.

When I had my first intense religious experience, serpent imagery was involved. I still think about it to this day. So in this chapter, when the people of Israel speak out against God, having just made a vow and been granted military victory over the entire land of Canaan (which seriously took like 3 verses, talk about anticlimactic), they speak out against God and he plagues them with “fiery serpents” (NKJV) or “poisonous serpents” (Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation).

The people start getting bitten by these snakes and they begin to die. So the people take some initiative and apologize for all this and ask Moses to intervene. God tells Moses to make an image of the serpents and “set it on a pole” (Numbers 21:8), that those who look upon it will not die from their snakebites. So he does, and the people do.

Now I don’t know if this just seemed really obvious or what, but the serpent on the pole is totally Jesus, you guys. Guys. Guys. Seriously.

So get this. God sends the serpents to punish the people, and depending on your doctrine, sin is effectively punishment, is it not? So the serpents are representative of sin, but where does sin come from? People. Without people there is no sin. So we have a whole “man’s inhumanity to man” thing going on.

Or alternatively, sin is not technically punishment but just the direct consequence of disobedience to God. In which case, snakes are the direct result of disobedience to God.

Either way, so the snakes are like the pain caused by sin, and sin is caused by people, and so the snakes are sort of like sinners and punishment rolled up into one scaly yet smooth metaphor. But! Moses makes a perfect image of one of these snakes (eh? eh??) and puts in on a pole (EH?!) and the people look to it (EHHHH?!?!) and are saved. Get it? Get it?

I thought this was interesting especially since the Jehovah’s Witnesses contend that Jesus was not hung on a cross but hung on a large pole (EH?!?!?!?!) called a “torture stake.” But yeah, these people look up to an image that is representative of God’s grace and are saved. They do not pray to the image, though, and this is an interesting point. That would be a sin.

I think this is why Protestants pray to God in Jesus’ name. Jesus is the image, the manifestation, of God’s grace. But all the praise and glory is still given to God. I think Jesus would have it no other way, since even He submitted to the will of the Father, even though they were sort of the same “Being” or “essence” or what-have-you.

Insert obligatory “God is in Christ and Christ is in us therefore God is in us therefore we are with God in some spiritual unity but yet created separately from Him physically to be forever distant so that we would seek Him but also be seeking the perfected version of ourselves which is in Him and only He can give us” thing that I do.

Anyway, as far as the rest of the chapter goes, like I said, Israel cuts a bloody swath across the Middle East and wrecks everybody’s s***.

Then they kill some king named Og. Really? This guy’s got like, a caveman name.

Anyway, peace be upon you!

Day 137

I just read a really terrifying article sent to me by my partner. Basically it outlines how the Western standard 40-hour work week is designed to limit people’s free time and consign them to living out their leisure time on weekends and evenings, where instead of spending quality time doing enjoyable things for free (reading a book, walking through a park, etc.), people spend money to be highly entertained for a short period.

What a sad article. What a sad reality.

“All of America’s well-publicized problems, including obesity, depression, pollution and corruption are what it costs to create and sustain a trillion-dollar economy. For the economy to be ‘healthy’, America has to remain unhealthy. Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.”

— David Cain, raptitude.com

This kind of thing is a reminder of why I hate dislike strongly disagree with (screw it I’m going to go with) hate our consumer culture. The problem with a self-interested capitalism, in my book, is that people are assholes. Sinners yes, but assholes more so.

I deleted a big impending rant about “rich people” because I’m just angry. I don’t want to hate on people who want money and security and all that. I think they’re wrong, in that money will not bring happiness or security, but whatever. (As an aside, do I want to make enough money to be able to travel and do fun things? Yes. I don’t want to be a hypocrite here but I mean there has got to be some kind of reasonable limit. Also, I really respect Bill Gates, because he’s a prime example of someone who is rich as f*** but uses his money and influence to do good things in the world. /aside)

Ultimately, successful businesses do hire more people and give others an opportunity to make money. Cool on that. But if all it does is perpetuate a cycle of spiritual poverty then what is the point?

Some days I want to move to a commune. Some days I want to start a commune.

I just want to gaze into my navel and see God there. Is that so much to ask? 😉


Numbers 20

The people cry out again about being stuck in the wilderness, wondering why there is no water and no food. Moses and Aaron, clearly the “Buddy Cop” duo of this whole story go talk to God once again.

God tells Moses to take his rod and go speak to a rock and the rock will bring forth water for the people. Moses and Aaron go back to the people and I think they have reached their breaking point. Moses condemns the people and declares in Numbers 20:10,

“Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”

The rock, sure enough, cracks open and water spills out, enough for the people and their livestock to drink. But God is not happy.

The problem here is that Moses and Aaron took credit for the whole thing and failed to glorify/acknowledge the Lord. They did not “hallow [Him] in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Numbers 20:12).

For the rest of the chapter, Moses tries to negotiate passage through the land of Edom (ruled by descendents of Esau, who I totally forgot about) and is denied. So Israel journeys elsewhere and ends up at Mount Hor, where God tells Aaron to prepare to die.

The priesthood is transferred to Eleazar, Aaron’s son, and Aaron dies upon the mountain, paying in blood the cost of his rebellion.

Day 136

Hey, check that out! I come back and the fan (???) had blown the pages of my Bible back to Genesis 40, which talks about Joseph and his whole dream-interpretation thing in Egypt, which coincidentally I just talked about with the Jehovah’s Witnesses this morning! I think they think they’re getting closer and closer to converting me. I don’t see that happening, and I don’t think God does either, but I do enjoy the talks.

Man, I feel like I had some really profound revelation earlier today but I can’t remember what it was! That’s going to irritate me.

The best I can remember is that there is another verse 3:16 that I learned about today, as opposed to the popular one from John. The JW showed me this today, and I’ll quote from their translation:

“All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”

— 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I like this verse because it almost makes the origin of the Bible irrelevant as the subject of argument. All scripture is inspired of God. Done and done. But not only that! Because it is so inspired, it is beneficial in many ways. I have heard Christians liken the Bible to an owner’s manual for life. I can see that. It just takes time and patience to learn how to read it.

Alright, down to business.

Numbers 19

God’s commandment here is to slaughter and burn a red heifer so that it’s ashes can be used for purification. There is a whole step-by-step process on how to do this right.

This chapter is some very interesting fodder for people who talk about old religious prescriptions as having healthy and practical purposes: in this case, God discusses the fact that handling a dead body makes one unclean, or that if a person dies in a tent, anything stored in an open container is now unclean. This sounds like the kind of thing we know from modern medicine: dead people rot and carry diseases.

I wonder if the ashes of the cow somehow had a soapy or cleansing effect. Perhaps I’m reading too much into things.

Anyway, I’m seriously falling asleep in the chair, so I’m going to bed.

Sleep well, and peace be upon you.

Day 135

Numbahs! Numbahs everywhere! So this was supposed to be yesterday’s, and then I’ll also do today’s… and by the time I’m done, tomorrow will be today, but then I’ll do that today’s post later.

Capisce?


Numbers 18

Sometimes I just want to write these like crappy middle-school essays: “Numbers 18 is a very good chapter. I liked Numbers 18 because it has Aaron and Moses. Aaron and Moses are brothers.” Etc., etc.

So the deal here is that God tells Aaron that hey, his line pretty much has to bear all the responsibility for the tabernacle and will “bear the iniquity associated with [their] priesthood.” (Numbers 18:1) And God gave to his family the Levites to do all the heavy lifting.

God describes here that the service of the Levites and the priesthood are “gifts.” It should be seen as a Good Thing when God entrusts us with responsibility. The work will not always be easy but the benefits are excellent: God gives the hard tasks to those He trusts.

Also, speaking of benefits, God outlines all the fringe bonuses to taking on this extreme level of responsibility. Aaron and his sons, as priests, get this laundry list of stuff that they get from all the tithes and offerings and what have you. The catch here is that they don’t get any land as an inheritance, since all the duties and offerings and such are that inheritance.

God then reminds them to make sure to always offer the best parts, the consecrated parts to God, and then to keep what is left. Because seriously, God will fry you if you mess this up. There is no room for error.

See you at Numbers 19!