I remember a few months back Amber made a comment on one of my posts about each land having its own gods. Like if you traveled through ancient Egypt, you'd be moving into the territory ruled by Re or Osiris whereas if you passed through Canaan you may have to contend with Dagon or Baal. For a nomadic people this could get complicated, huh?
So if you were supposedly a monotheistic people with a God who claimed to be the God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Sustainer, the Sovereign Almighty One who goes with you where ever you go and leads and guides you... well, that would be pretty special. That God wouldn't be bound by territory. He wouldn't have to park His deity at the borders and subordinate Himself to the gods of Egypt or Canaan or Babylon or Assyria. Right?
So what if God's people really believed that. And for good reason. You'd seen miracles - manna delivered from heaven, a pillar of fire to lead, the sea parting so you could cross on dry land, water from a rock. Stuff like that. But then, what if this same God who had been a wonderful caretaker gets angry because well, you decide to worship other gods. So like a good, loving parent, He has to discipline you.
Have you ever heard parents tell their children "this hurts me more than it hurts you" when they have to discipline their children?
Well, what do you think about this quote in relation to all I've tried to say here plus the quote below in red? The God of the Bible did wonderful miracles and took care of the children of Israel, yet they often turned their backs on Him to worship other gods. So there were prophets sent to warn the people to repent, but when they refused God would punish them. Often times this involved other nations conquering them. I read this in a book the other day and it is what got me to thinking along these lines. The author is talking about the books of the Bible containing visions of the doom that was going to come upon the holy city of Jerusalem.
"In order to sustain the faith of Israel through all these overwhelming reverses -- the complete devastation of cities and farmlands, and the destruction of the temple -- it was necessary to furnish an absolutely decisive proof that these events had taken place by the permission and plan of the God of Israel, rather than because He was a puny god overcome by the more powerful deities of the Chaldean empire (a conclusion which all heathendom would invariably draw after the fall of Jerusalem.)" pg. 336 A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by Gleason L. Archer, Jr.
So maybe God wanted to let His people know that He was still in control despite the fact it may seem otherwise. I mean the Temple was a place the Israelites worshiped God! So His "house" essentially was going to be destroyed...how would this look? This would be like Mecca being destroyed today along with the Kaaba! Can you imagine? Did God not care about His reputation among the nations? among His own people? Was disciplining His people of more importance to Him than how He looked to surrounding nations? What does this say - if anything - about God and His ideas of relationship and parenting His children?
Do you know people right now who claim to be the people of God? Whether they designate themselves as followers of Christ, God's chosen people, submitters to Allah, people of the Book, covenant people -- whatever they choose to say regarding themselves. Essentially they believe themselves to know the Truth that will lead them to salvation -- even if they aren't assured of it, they have pretty high hopes that they are following the correct path to God.
OK, got someone in mind? Maybe it's me or you or both of us. Anyway...what happens when these people of God are punished by God? What happens when bad things happen to them when they have done nothing wrong? Do we wonder "aha, you probably aren't God's person after all...see what you are going through?" Or do we think, "they must have made God angry and He is punishing them for their wrongdoing"?
I guess I'm wondering what people of God think when bad things happen to them as individuals or collectively to their people. And what about those who are outside of that people group -- do they mock, wondering why Allah, Jesus, Jehovah, I AM has forsaken the ones who are supposedly His? Or do we think their god must be weak because he can't even care for his own...see the earthquakes that hit them? see the famine, disease, unrest among the people? Surely this is not how the True God's people would act. Surely this is not what The Chosen would have to experience.
Does God put Himself into a position to look "puny" or weak when bad things happen in the world or to those who truly are in relationship/good standing/following Him? If so, why would He do this?
What do you think?