Sunday, 29 July 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirteen

Hi, Everybody!

The party was a success, here's today's post:

20 April 14

Hi Troy and Mia!

Okay, back with more of Mr. Ross' Scriptural citations which he says support his thesis that "God alone, not Satan or any other created being, has the power to create and destroy what God creates."  More but not all -- it's going to take me a while to get through these.  And it's all under one citation!

Isaiah 37:16 - "O YHWH of hosts, God of Israel that dwellest the Cherubims, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth, thou hast made heaven and earth"

Well, to me, this is the YHWH who is being addressed, not God.

The "hosts" reference, as a defining characteristic of the YHWH, I think is best reflected in Christian scripture by the episode in the Gerasenes in Matthew 8:28 (where, significantly, the demon-possessed is cited as being TWO men) and Mark 5:9 where there is only one demon-possessed and the Synoptic Jesus "was inquiring upon him What name to you? And he is saying to him Legion name to me, because many we are."  Self-confessed, in other words unlike the version in Luke, 8:30, "Inquired upon, however him, the Jesus what to you name is?  The ____ (however ____) said Legion, because entered demons many into him."

 I think I think the Cherubims -- or, rather, cherubims -- which adorn the ark of the covenant and held a central place in the Temple are particularly emblematic of that dichotomy: that God is seen as being represented by one cherubim and the YHWH by the other and, in the YHWH's view, what they are doing is contending for primacy of place in the Judaic faith, between the two cherubims.  And note the "between" is interpolated into the text, largely, I suspect, because "that dwellest the Cherubims" seems to be lacking a preposition.  Between?  Within?  Atop?    

Isaiah 44:24 - "Thus saith the YHWH thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb; I am the YHWH that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by my self"

It seems to me significant that the YHWH, narrating here, feels compelled to append "alone" and "by my self" to the assertions.  The passage continues in an interesting theological vein:

"That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad, that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish"

I certainly have no difficulty picturing the YHWH expending a great deal of time and energy "frustrating the tokens of the liars" but I have trouble picturing God doing so.  It seems to me that liars frustrate themselves and that that's a major part of God's construct and a functioning property of free will.  "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" as the Bard said.  And tokens are just that, tokens.

"…and maketh diviners mad".  Well, again, I think that those who use or attempt to use divination -- to see the future and to shape it or use it for their own purposes -- are mad already, because they're all just human beings, so whatever it is that they think they are seeing or think they are making use of is probably just a small part of the interacting realities of which God alone has knowledge and over which God alone has dominion.  Complexities multiply in such a way that the human mind can't even conceive of them, let alone control them.  That, to me, is what God and faith in God is all about:  only absolute faith in Him can see you through the manifold mazes you inhabit. 

Isaiah 45:7-18 - "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the YHWH do all these things."

Isaiah 45 -- which, coincidentally, was part of my Torah readings last Sunday -- seems to me to be an especially pertinent text regarding the God/YHWH dichotomy so I'm going to go verse by verse in Mr. Ross' cited passage.

45:7 is one of those YHWHistic passages where I really have to ask: do you REALLY think that God creates evil?  Personally, I think that's the entire point of Genesis 1:  God "created to make" everything and pronounces everything that He created to be good.  Well, He should know, shouldn't He?  No, it is the unwise exercise of free will, alone, I think, that creates evil.  I also don't think that God makes peace.  God can, I think, deliver peace to those who seek it from Him if He deems them worthy of it.  But, to me, that isn't the same thing as "making peace".  Everything is structurally, good, by God's own declaration.  If you keep evil and malice away from Everything, peace will result where you have effectively separated the one from the other and I think that's what we are here to do, individually and collectively -- but that, it seems to me, has more to do with human agency and free will choices which make peace possible rather than "making peace" like some sort of spiritual mudpie.

"Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation and let righteousness spring up together: I the YHWH have created it."

As I've said before, I think the YHWH as a being of spirit inhabits both the earth and the heavens but is far more OF the earth than OF the heavens.  I think this verse gives evidence of the YHWH's notion (in my view, misapprehension) of righteousness as an external reality, something that created beings can be immersed in, like a cloudburst.  Which seems to me true in a way, but only in the sense that righteousness can come forth, collectively, from within human beings in response to a specific event (9-11 comes to mind) in such a profusion that it does, indeed, "bring forth salvation" -- however temporarily -- and that righteousness then seems to "spring up together".  I don't think that that can be said to be "created" however.  More "chosen" or "incarnated".  It seems to me that it's a misconstruction of God's "undeserved kindness" -- more conventionally, in English, called grace or Grace.

It also seems significant to me that it is phrased as "let THE earth open and let THEM bring both salvation" pointing towards the plural aspects of the YHWH.

"Woe to him that striveth with his maker: let the potsheard with the potsheard of the earth: shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?  or thy work, he hath no hands?"

This sentiment which is reiterated in the latter Prophets pretty extensively seems to me to be centrally pertinent to the discussion since, to me, that's exactly what the YHWH is doing.  The YHWH is the pot shard of the pot created by God;  the YHWH is the clay saying to the God that fashioned it, What makest thou?  And the YHWH is part of God's work, saying to God, "He hath no hands". 

"Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What beggetest thou? or to the woman, What has thou brought forth?"

This cuts, I think, a little too close to the theological bone.  I don't think The Father is God -- I think God created The Father -- but that, it seems to me, only makes the observation more (intentionally?) wounding, suggesting as it does that the YHWH had either an interchangeable father/mother or a father and a mother.  

Woe unto him, indeed.  And here we go:

"Thus saith the YHWH, the Holy One of Israel, and his maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."

"His maker":  that is, here we have two voices:  I suspect, the YHWH and The Father, The Father both speaking on behalf of God and referencing God.  That is, speaking to the YHWH as a fellow creation of God, but as an obedient one, a son of God.  "Ask me of things to come concerning my sons".  That is, the sons of the Father, the physical sons created of carnality, and the sons of God, the spiritual sons who are sons by virtue of obedience and submission to God's will -- unlike the YHWH.

"I have made the earth and created man upon it: I my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded."

This is claimed by both the YHWH and by God.

"I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the YHWH of hosts."

On the surface of it, in the context of Isaiah and the events being discussed, this is in reference to Cyrus. Which is how the YHWH intends it.  But, for God, it's also an answer in a much larger context.  Yes, it refers to Cyrus, God created Cyrus for the exact purpose of assisting in the rebuilding of the Temple, but in the longer term it is also a reference to the Christ ("Ask me of things to come concerning my sons") and the Meschiach, in Christian frames of reference -- OR the Meschiach, if the Jews are right and he hasn't yet come.  The city is Jerusalem, or the New Jerusalem of John's Apocalypse or an even yet further context of a spiritual city.

"Thus saith the YHWH, the labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia, and of the Sabeans, men of stature shall come over unto thee and they shall be thine, they shall come after thee, in chains they shall come over: and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, Surely God in thee and none else, no god."

This, it seems to me, is the point in the narrative, where the YHWH suddenly finds his/her/it self flying solo.  This is purely about Cyrus and while also speaking of future events of which the YHWH is aware, no longer speaking of the extended future of the Christ and/or Meschiach and/or New Jerusalem.

"Verily thou a God that hidest thy self, O God of Israel the Saviour."

This is the YHWH's reaction to God's sudden absence from the narrative.  God -- the God of Israel the Saviour -- isn't hiding (and the YHWH must have wondered at his/her/its own words -- "Israel the Saviour"?  "God the Saviour"?  "God of Israel the Saviour"? If you don't know what the Christ is and have no concept of a New Jerusalem, the phrase would just sound odd).  It's just that the Larger Narrative had been departed from.  This was about a lot more than Cyrus' role in theological history.

"They shall be ashamed, and also confounded all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols."

God, I think,  rejoins the narrative here.  This is a general observation on the part of the YHWH of the immediate context: the disposition of those who Cyrus will save.  The Larger Context, however, to me, includes God, the YHWH as God's creation, the Jewish people as the Chosen People, Christ, the followers of Christ, the doubters of Christ, those who have made Christ himself an idol, monotheistic idolaters, Jerusalem, New Jerusalem. 

There are a lot of species of idolatry is what I suspect God is saying here:  even in the deepest forms of monotheism, there is and will be idolatry.  Ultimately, on Judgement Day, the idolaters -- even, and perhaps, especially those who were unintentionally idolatrous:  how idolatrous is a crucifix? -- will be ashamed and confounded ("THAT was idolatry?" followed swiftly by "That WAS idolatry!" -- ashamed and then confounded).  Their final destination: confusion ("they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols").

"Israel shall be saved in the YHWH with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end."

This seems to me to be the YHWH trying to enunciate, to amplify, the previous verse and, inadvertently, pronouncing self-judgement.  Israel will be saved IN the YHWH.  Just as the YHWH, hopefully, will be saved IN God.  It's a matter of accurate awareness and, more importantly, accurate SELF-awareness.  If you perceive accurately, you can't be idolatrous because it's a ridiculous choice.  That applies to the Jewish people, to Jerusalem, to men generally and to the YHWH.  You will only be ashamed and confounded if you have been inadvertently or intentionally idolatrous.  This seems to promise a general salvation as an inevitability.  Seems unlikely in the 21st century, but who knows?  The earth has billions of years left to live.

"For thus saith the YHWH that created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth and made it, he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited, I the YHWH and none else."

The YHWH's is a misapprehension, God's is an assertion of the Truth, serving as a signature to the passage, the two beings identifying themselves, YHWH by his/her/its misapprehension and God by His Truth and then asserting "he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited".  Again, the YHWH's misapprehension regarding the heavens, but God's Truth regarding the earth: "He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited." 

"I the YHWH and none else" has a double resonance.  YHWH misapprehended assertion as "Creator" and the YHWH's truthful assertion that God established the earth/YHWH, God did not create the earth/YHWH in vain and God formed the earth to be inhabited by….?  "I the YHWH and none else."

Next week, on to Romans 11:36.


Next Time: I dunno, I just got a huge stack of Cerebus comics... 

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