Monday, February 24, 2014

10 down, 603 to go ...

My reading this morning reinforced something I.C. posted a little while back on the subject of the 613 Commandments though, much to my disappointment, he only dealt with 10 of them.

(I look forward to a future post setting out how the rest of God’s commands can also be viewed relationally, though I suspect that may take him a while …)

Frankly, since reading that particular post, I’m finding evidence in the Old Testament that God’s purpose has always been primarily about fostering a relationship with man everywhere I turn, and in everything I read.

In Genesis 18, on the way to view the city of Sodom and orchestrate its destruction — an account that must surely rate near the top of any list of Old Testament “distant, angry God” moments —  God stops by the tent of his friend Abraham to announce that he and Sarah are going to have a child.

Well, that happens later on. First, Abraham serves dinner to God and the two “men” with him. That’s not an exaggeration. Scripture actually records that they ate.

Do I even need to make this point? It is surely abundantly clear that God does not need to eat, nor do angels. This is entirely a gracious accommodation for the sake of Abraham. It allows him the dignity of showing hospitality to the eternal God, the creator and owner of everything there is.

After dinner, God announces that “this time next year ... Sarah your wife will have a son”. Then God and his two companions take their leave. Except ...

Except on the way, it gets even better. God stops to tell Abraham his plans for the wicked city of Sodom. He sends his two companions ahead to the city while he stays, alone, to discuss the matter with Abraham. It seems incredible, but God did not want to move ahead with the destruction of the city that Abraham's nephew Lot had made his home without first disclosing his plans to his friend.

He wanted to make sure he and Abraham were on the same page, as improbable as that may seem.

He says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” So God and man, two friends, negotiate (though it is clear Abraham does so with great respect), and they reach an understanding. God’s righteousness must be upheld, but Abraham’s relative will be saved.

What on earth are we to make of that?

It is easy to see incidents like the destruction of Sodom as evidence of a God who is all wrath and judgment, and to contrast them with gracious, gentle images of the Lord Jesus with the woman at the well, or the adulterous woman he saved from stoning.

But such distinctions are superficial at best.

God is One, and if we are going to express opinions about his nature, we ought to base them on more than just general impressions.

1 comment :

  1. I think you're doing just fine finding additional examples of what I was talking about, Tom. And as you illustrate, the 613 are not even the sum of all the examples available. You find an additional case or two in the narrative above, and there are lots more in all the narratives, prophecies and poetry of the Bible.

    I don't think there's any danger of me, or anyone else, exhausting the evidence that the God of the First Testament is the God of the Second Testament, and that from start to finish He has been primarily dedicated to the project of bringing mere mortals into deep and permanent relationship with Him. We're just going to keep finding more.

    Immanuel Can