Trinity

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 53

Exodus 3

Here we enter God’s abstract period. Moses brings the flocks up to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (Exod 3:1). God appears to Moses as a fire burning within a bush. Moses heads over to investigate the strange occurrence, and to see why the bush does not burn.

A “burning bush” at sunset. I thought I was going to have to wait much longer to share this picture.

Another shot of the “burning bush.” Zoomed in and touched up.

God speaks to Moses, and tells him to remove his sandals. God introduces Himself as “the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod 3:6). In the New World Translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this whole episode is the point at which God introduces himself as “Jehovah,” as we shall soon see.

God tells Moses that He has heard the cry of the Israelites, and that He has chosen Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses isn’t sure what to make of this.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

— Exodus 3:11-14, NKJV

God gives Moses some other commands and gives him details of the plan. Anyone who wants to read all that, just go check out Exodus 3. I’d rather talk about…


The Name of God

I’ve always considered this to be one of the most interesting and possibly one of the most overlooked passages in the Old Testament. Moses imagines a scenario wherein the Israelites ask him, “Oh yeah? You’re so smart, what’s God’s name?”

In the New King James Version, and many others, God responds by telling Moses, “I AM THAT I AM,” or “I AM WHO I AM.” Then God clarifies that His name is “I AM.” I’m going to skip ahead a bit to Exodus 20 because I have a point I’d like to make. Exodus 20 is the chapter that introduces the Ten Commandments, one of which is

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…

— Exodus 20:7, NKJV

Now what did we just learn is [one of] the name[s] of God? “I AM.” This phrase, “I am,” is one of the most simple declarative statements that a being can make. It tells nothing and yet it tells everything, for it is a simple statement of the fact that one exists. Even though it seems simple, it implies a great deal, for it implies all that we do, say, and experience, for it wraps our very existence into three simple English letters.

But we are not to take the name of God in vain. If a statement conveying the fact of our existence is indeed a name of God… then it is not only the name but our existence itself that we must honor. The very fact that I AM, that I am here today, that I am writing this, that I am reaching out to you… this very truth of my existence is a recognition of God. And it is something that we can all say and recognize.

Do not take your life in vain, for God speaks His own name through your Being.

We are all manifestations of God. God who is the Spirit that flows through us, the Infinite Moment that allows us to live, and the Word that becomes us. Christ is known as the Word Made Flesh, but there is a little bit of Christ within all of us. Though we may not be the blesséd Son of God, we are all His sons and daughters. Just as we carry our biological parents with us in the form of genes and chromosomes, we carry the essence, the Consciousness that is God with us in our mortal forms.

Some Christians have said that we were created to honor and worship God, to give Him praise. This is true, but by living consciously, by experiencing the world and the life that we have each been given, we are honoring God. We are all manifestations of God, and our most basic statement of Being is God’s sacred name.

Everything in the universe, from stars to ants to atoms, is written in the Word. When we open our eyes or our ears, we read the Language of the World. When we touch, when we smell… when we move our bodies and let our emotions soar like eagles… we are experiencing the Language of the World, the Language of God, an infinite interminable sentence that relates every particle, every atom, every rock, plant, human, and star…

The Jehovah’s Witnesses observed that God’s name, written יהוה in Hebrew and often transliterated as YHWH (Yahweh, or Jehovah) appears to be related to the verb “to become.” To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then, God’s name means “He Causes to Become,” and I find this also strikingly appropriate. Every moment that comes into being, everything that we experience is all manifested within God. We are but different reflections of the same thing, the same infinite force.

One of my favorite phrases that I have mostly forgotten until this moment is the Spanish “Vaya con Dios.”

“Go with God.”

Could it ever be any other way?