Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Bigger God Than Giants (Deut. 3-4)

SEAN - If the gods of the Ancient East were football players, Yahweh (God) would be the one making the sun shine down on them and giving them air to breathe. Ancient Eastern gods were small, regional, bit players in the world, of which God was the only real Creator and King; Israel's God was Lord over heaven and earth, and divided the borders of nations, and decided the outcomes of wars, and was unknowable, and yet He made Himself known.

Based on's Chronological Bible In a Year schedule. If anyone would like to join in, this blog's comments sections would be a good forum in which to share insights from the text.

The Inside Scoop on Yahweh
In the Ancient Near East, this was how you would picture a god: he or she would be one of many others; it would reign over only a town or over one element of nature, and had a physical form. Then along comes Yahweh. This God of Israel is supposed to be the only god (4.35), reigns over all the heavens above and the earth below (4.39) -even over nations which 'belong' to other gods (3.2; 4.34)- is so incomprehensible that it is an insult to represent Him with idols (4.15-18), and yet is still merciful (4.31) as well as close (4.7) and personal (4.24)to His people. Not only that - He controls the outcome of battles (3.3)! He makes the arm strong, the muscle weak or firm, confuses the strategies of armies or makes them succeed and loads the outcome in every detail. If the gods of the nations were football players, God would be the one making the sun shine on them and giving them air to breathe; He would be sustaining the very laws of gravity and of friction that make the game possible. This was a God who was completely different.

I Can't Help But Worship Him
So it's within that framework that I find Yahweh (God) so amazing. The Hindus claim to have a really transcendent deity in Brahman -a god who is so 'other' that it is effectively nothing at all; supposedly unified, but also fractured into the same contradictory polytheistic mess of gods as all of the other ancient religions- but this god of the Israeli tribes is so completely other and yet so near that I can't help but worship Him. The other gods of the Ancient Near East are spiritual bit players competing over some land; In Yahweh, we have a real deity at work. This God is truly bigger than a giant King Bashan (3.11) and all of his petty little idols. By the new standard, He is actually the only real God at all.

Other Interesting Notes
  • Deuteronomy 4.1-40 is basically an explanation of the first two commandments.
  • The Bible is a superior law. These rules are so righteous that they speak for their own divine origin - anything other than this is doomed to fail (4.8).
  • King Bashan (3.11) was a giant. That's not impossible. Among normal human beings, you still get the odd giant. Sun Mingming -in the picture, up top- is a modern Chinese basketball player who is almost 8 feet tall. There's also a report of a Pakistani farmer who is 9 feet tall.

Other comments and observations can be found in the comments section! Join in!

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