metaphor

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!

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Day 116

Views are dwindling from their already dwindled state. This is what happens when I don’t update for a week.

Also, I re-read yesterday’s post to laugh again at some of my own jokes (23:skiddoo! What a killer!) and realized that I censored several words but did not censor the word “fuck.”

notsmartOh well. Onward and upward…


Leviticus 26

After 50 chapters of Genesis and 40 of Exodus, Leviticus feels so darn short. I’m glad I caught up, though. I really don’t want to miss the first day of NUMBERS. Why is it called Numbers? Who knows? Probably lots of people. But soon I will be one of those people!

*ahem*

So this chapter is kind of cool. God speaks and tells Moses that by following God and keeping His commandments, that all will be well. The Israelites will have good harvests, peace in their lands, and they will triumph over all their enemies. The people will be fruitful and multiply, they will have new harvests to clear out the old and they will walk upright as a free people.

But if they do not…

If they do not follow the commandments and do not keep the statutes, well then, the earth and the heavens will turn against them, disease shall consume them and sorrow will fill their hearts. The number seven seems to be a recurring theme here.

“I will punish you seven times more…” (Lev 26:18)

“I will bring on you seven times more plagues…” (Lev 26:21)

“I… will chastise you seven times for your sins.” (Lev 26:28)

But seriously, it gets worse. There will be pestilence, plagues, wild beasts, cannibalism, destruction, desolation! The Israelites will be cowards in their hearts and flee before imagined foes!

But!

But there is still hope. Looking back, I forgot that one of the definitions of the word “remember” is

  • bear (someone) in mind by making them a gift or making provision for them.

So when God “remembers” His covenant, it is less that He has forgotten it and it has come back to His mind, but more that He is once again willing to bestow all of His blessings upon the people, for they are once again willing to honor and be faithful to their God.

This requires confession, submission, humility… God asks many things of us, but they are never beyond our reach.

The thing I noticed about this chapter, and I didn’t need Matthew Henry to spell it out for me, thank you very much, is that much of what God threatens to do to the people is also what happens in the heart of an individual that turns away from God.

One who walks with God lives in harmony with the land, and has the courage to stand up to any foe. This man or woman who lives this way is confident yet humble, accepting the world as it is and submitting to the will of God.

But those who turn from God find that God turns from them: to those filled with anger, all things are frustrating; to those filled with sadness, all things are reminders of sorrow. It seems as though the world works against them. They toil and struggle but all in vain. And by continuing to walk this path, their anger, sorrow, and fear will grow stronger; they will tear apart their own families and they will flee from imagined threats. They will be ruled by the cruel and will have neither the courage nor strength to stand tall.

But the old road is never closed, and God’s arms are always open to those who wish to walk with Him.

Amen.

Day 63

Exodus 13

Here we get a lot more about Passover and unleavened bread and making sure your kids don’t grow up to be ungrateful heathens and so on. I think it is interesting that they say, after describing the whole bread thing, that

“This will serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial on your forehead.”

— Exodus 13:9

In John Wesley’s explanatory notes, he writes that this is a metaphor for “things which are never out of our thoughts.” I find it interesting that this is similar to the “mark of the Beast” in Revelations, as well as the whole idea of it as a metaphor for something else. I also find more interesting the fact that according to the JW New World Translation, “on your forehead” can apparently be translated as “between your eyes.” Many mystics and New-Age types talk about the “third eye,” and its supposed relation to the pineal gland, which happens to be located roughly “between the eyes.”

But my favorite part of this chapter is Exodus 13, verse 21, cited here from the NKJV:

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.

This image of God as a magnificent pillar of swirling clouds, or as a pillar of raging fire against the night sky is marvelous. I have stared deeply into a campfire in the dark of night and regarded the whole thing as an otherworldly, mystical experience. To me, this all rings true.

I cannot speak to the literal interpretation of this, and it is hard to take it metaphorically. All I know is that the image and the story are magnificent.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 60

I’m reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. It is awesome. My partner lent it to me but it is clearly the kind of book I will need to buy and read several times over. That is all.


Exodus 10

This chapter is very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, God finally explains to Moses why they’re going through all this trouble and why Pharaoh is so ridiculously obstinate. God tells Moses:

“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among themthat you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

— Exodus 10:1-2, NIV

I’m going to divert from the NKJV here, because apparently God tells Moses to “Go in to Pharaoh,” and I don’t think that’s quite what God meant… I was a little confused and shocked given the previous uses of the phrase “go in to.” You’re welcome to insert your own banjo music and Deliverance joke here. I really want to, but I’m not about to go that far. Not today, anyway.

But the point is that God specifically tells Moses that this is the way things have to go down so that way all the descendants of Israel will remember forever who God is. Makes sense enough to me.

Moses and Aaron go to warn Pharaoh about the impending locust plague and this time, Pharaoh’s servants finally beg him to end this madness and let the damn Hebrews go worship, already. So Pharaoh brings Moses and Aaron back. He tells them finally to just go, and then asks for clarification of who will be going to make this sacrifice.

Moses tells them that everyone will be coming, boys, girls, elders, youth, and the animals. Pharaoh’s response in different translations is interesting; I find the Jehovah’s Witness translation the best, as in it makes the most sense in context. This is what Pharaoh responds in NKJV (Exodus 10:10-11):

“The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.”

“God had better be with you, because there is evil ahead! But no! Send the guys out.” What? This is super confusing and I’m not sure I understand. Pharaoh sounds like he’s changing his mind mid-conversation.

Now let’s take a look at the NIV:

“The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil.No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.”

The NIV mentions that “Clearly you are bent on evil” could also mean “Be careful, trouble is in store for you!” But again, Pharaoh’s meaning is confusing. At least here he is clearly denying letting everyone go, and only wants the men to go.

The following is the New World (JW) Translation:

“If I ever send you and your children away, then Jehovah is indeed with you! It is clear that you intend to do something evil. No! Only your men may go and serve Jehovah, for that is what you requested.”

Does that not make so much more sense? “Wow, really? If I ever let all of you go, then God really is on your side. No, it’s totally obvious that this is some kind of trick. How about only the men go, and we keep everyone else as collateral?” (The bit about collateral is borrowed from Mr. Henry’s commentary/interpretation. Didn’t really think of it that way myself.)

Pharaoh makes his demand and kicks Moses and Aaron back out. They shrug and summon a plague of locusts that ravage the already-ravaged land. Whatever was left after the hailstorm gets devoured. Egypt is in a sorry state indeed. Pharaoh begs for forgiveness and asks Moses to ask God to remove the locusts. Moses does so, and predictably Pharaoh does not let the people go. Shocking.

Before we move into the ninth plague, I want to bring up another translation issue. Exodus 10:19 mentions that God summoned a west wind to send the locusts away and blow them into “the Red Sea.” The Red Sea in this case is in the proper direction for this to happen (i.e. east of Egypt) but the NIV notes that this could also be translated as “the Sea of Reeds.” While this isn’t such a big deal now, this potential mistranslation will come into play in the near future.

So, plague number nine! Pharaoh doesn’t let the people go; Moses stretches out his hand and darkness falls across the land.

thriller - zombie

Why yes, that is a Thriller reference!¹

The Egyptians are all stuck in the dark, but the Israelites are fine and have light. Gee, heavy-handed-metaphor, much? Didn’t even notice that til just now.

Pharaoh tells Moses once again to go make his sacrifice, but this time to leave his flocks. Moses tells Pharaoh that he does not yet know what kind of sacrifice they will have to make, and they will need their flocks to make burnt offerings. This exchange follows, ending the chapter with an awesome Biblical one-liner (in the NKJV, anyway. The other versions I’ve read are decidedly less cool).

Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”

So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”

mic-drop-charlie-murphy-o yeahhhhhOhhhhhh! Moses out, b****.


¹ Thriller. 1983 John Landis and Michael Jackson. Image retrieved from http://theukuleleblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/thriller-1983.html

Moses’ mic drop: http://gifsoup.com/view/1324222/mic-drop-charlie-murphy.html

Moses’ air punch: hiding in a link on http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-feed/2014/02/house-of-cards-season-two.html

Killer guitar riff: http://youfoundasecret.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/video-games-according-to-csi-miami/