fredag 7. september 2012

# 14 - Is it because others have pointed out to you that they don't like the «cruel god» in the OT? (Part 2). 

I promised to tell you the difference about a biological father who kills his children and God the Father who let Korah (Cora) and his men perish in a gap in the earth.

To try to get an answer we have to start at the beginning. Why did God create us? He wasn't lonely because he already lived in a family of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My belief is that He created us because He was full of love and wanted to make someone to take part in that happiness. He was generous and not afraid to share Heaven with both angels and men. So he generously created all of us. To be generous is not to force people, but to give them a choice: «I have created you for everlasting life. Do you want to be with me in Heaven for all eternity or not? If you want to be with me you have to keep my commandments and you have to love each other». To let someone with hate in his heart into heaven would be to open the gate of heaven to evil and to let that evil destroy the peace in Heaven. There is no way that evil can live in heaven, that's why people have to choose, Heaven or the other alternative.

After the fall by Adam and Eve, God gave humankind a new chance by slowly, slowly building them up. For each step he made a covenant with them, first with Noah (the family man) then with Abraham (the tribe-leader), then with Moses (the leader of the people - the Sinai-covenant- the ten commandments), then with king David (the king of a country) and at last with all the people in the world by giving us Jesus (the savior of all people on earth).

Some would put in extra covenants, but the exact number of covenants is not the point here. The point is that God let his immature creatures, the humans, have the time they needed to become more mature, to grow in understanding of what it meant to be God's chosen people. After the death and resurrection of Christ, all baptized people are among God's chosen people and the door stands open for every person who want to become a Christian and be baptized.

I have learned about the covenants from different sources. Two of these are from the «Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Book of Genesis» by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch and the «Exodus: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible» by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch». In 2012 there came a new book that I haven’t read yet, but I think it seems worth the time studying it: «Bible Basics for Catholics: A new Pictuere of Salvation History» by John Bergsma and Scott Hahn.

According to Hahn et al it is important to understand where we are coming from to understand where we are going. That is exactly what I mean too.

If we don't understand God's wonderful work with humankind after the fall of Adam and Eve until the death and resurrection of Christ, it's easy to loose track. God created us and he is the one who decides what is good and evil, not us! The democracy is a good way for humans to run our countries. God, however, rules in other ways ....

Yes, it is evil if a biological father kills his children. God has not allowed a father to treat his children in such an evil way. «Thou shalt not kill» (Exodus 20:13) To kill another person is against the 10 commandments (the Sinai Covenant). It is also against the love-commandment that Jesus (second person in triune God) gave us: «Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself» (Luke 10:27).

So now we have made it clear that no good father kills his children; but God killed Korah (Cora) and his men (250 persons). Did he kill? No, he didn't.
Korah (Cora) chose to die! To understand this, we have to look at the Salvation history. Nowadays Jesus has come already. He isn't the Messiah who is to come (if we don't count his second coming). He has come! In Korah's (Cora's) days it was otherwise. Jesus had not come and God was training his people to obey his will. Korah knew how God helped the Israelites out of Egypt. He knew that God was special. He had no reason to doubt God. He also knew the ten commandments and he knew about the promised land. He knew that Moses was the leader God had chosen. If he wanted to obey God, he  would have respected God's chosen leadership.

In the end of Numbers 15 (right before the happenings with Korah (Cora), after God had given Moses some teachings for the people, we can read: «... they may remember all the commandments of the Lord, and not follow their own thoughts and eyes going astray after divers things, But rather being mindful of the precepts of the Lord, may do them and be holy to their God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that I might be your God» (verse 39-41).

It is after Moses has pointed out the wishes of God, that Korah (Cora) rose up against Moses and said: «Let it be enough for you, that all the multitude consisteth of holy ones, and the Lord is among them: Why lift you up yourselves above the people of the Lord?» (Numbers 16:3) 
In fact Korah (Cora) is doubting the authority that God had given Moses as their leader. It is almost the same as if you and me had rose up in the Church and said to the priest/deacon: «I'm a catholic too, and I want to take your place when we are going to hear the Gospel* to day. You are not the only one who can teach us about God.» Imagine a lot of the parish members shouting: «Yeah, that's right, you are not the only Catholic in the Church. We want to instruct ourselves and read the Gospel ourselves. We don't need any priest or deacon to do that».

If we had done so, do you think that God would have killed us? Nope! No way! But what is the difference between then and now? Moses was chosen by God as the Israelites leader. Our leader that God has chosen is the pope. The priests of our days are by apostolic succession heirs of the first apostles. They function after Gods will (what private sins they must have done doesn't matter for the fulfilling of their call from God). When Korah (Cora) and his men protested, they did that, as already mentioned, when God was trying to make mature men out of children in grown ups bodies. We might not be so mature either, we all need correction from time to time, but we live after Jesus resurrection,  - after the Church was instituted. The Church is under the mandate of God through the pope and the magisterium. There are no places were you and I will be thought that we are allowed to read the Evangelium in our parishes before the priest by the authority of God changes bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus.

Perhaps you think that Korah (Cora) didn't understand the consequences of what he was doing when he wanted to conquer Moses? He might have suppressed it, but if so it was a free choice. He knew what had happened to the people that had worshipped the golden calf (i.e. opposed God). If he didn't want to remember that, that was his choice!

We must remember that when God plotted Korah (Cora)  and his men out He knew their hearts. He knew their true motives ... If Korah and his men had been innocent and really wanted a close relationship with God, God would not have plotted them out. In Numbers, chapter 15, it is made clear that those who sinned without understanding that they sinned, only had to make an offering  to be forgiven (a goat if it was one person, an ox and more if it was an assembly).

So it is with us, too. We might want to suppress what we know about how to live as Catholics, but no suppression can come about if we don't will it. It's not wise to try to change God's teachings into what we want them to be, instead of accepting what God wants us to understand. (If we haven’t followed God's will because we didn't know better it is only to go to confession and start trying to do right after that. Remember God knows our hearts and how hard we try to please Him if that's what we are doing).

I think that if we tried to take a power God had not given us, the Church would have excommunicated us and that would have been right. (See the example I have used about laypeople trying to take the power to read the Evangelium abow). The excommunication could end in spiritual death or in growth. That would depend on how much pride there would be inside you and me. If we would be humble, regret and beg for forgiveness which we always can be given after the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, the doors would be opened up for us again.

If we didn't repent, our fate would be almost as the one given Korah (Cora) and his men. We would probably not enter the kingdom of God when it would be our time to leave this world!

I think we would do wise to remember what Moses answered Korah (Cora) and his men: «In the morning the Lord will make known who belong to him, and the holy he will join to himself: and whom he shall choose, they shall approach to him» (Numbers 16:5).

God showed everyone what he meant. The next day 250 persons was cast out of the flock because they disobeyed God when they were on the road to the promised land.

Obedience to God's will is still what is expected of us. Jesus himself said: «Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves» (Mt 10:16). «And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell» (Mt 10:28). We have got the choice. If we don't want to be God's on the premises he has given us, we have (unless we repent) chosen our destination which is to be without God forever. The naturally consequence of that is that God opens the door to hell when we die, because he already knows that we don't want to be in the presence of Holiness.

If you play some sort of game in a group, football or something else, there is a leader (the trainer) and there are rules to follow. If you show the leader again and again that you don't want to follow the rules, the leader one day will have to throw you out. He might like you very well, but with your behavior and none-compliance you have shown him that you don't want to be a part of the team.

We all have to chose! Since our intelligence is limited, it is good that God gives us the time to think and pray when we are uncertain about faith. After all he wants many to be saved.

Next time someone claims that the God of the old testament seems cruel, try to think about the deception in the Garden: «Did God really say that it is forbidden to eat that fruit?». "Do you really believe that the monster-god that is described in the OT can be related to the kind Jesus in NT"? Think of the consequences after the fall in the Garden and try to remember that it is God, our Creator, who decides what is good and evil. Try to remember that what you read in OT is part of the Bible and is there to teach us something just like the words in NT. Try to remember that OT tells the story about Creation, Fall and Gods plan for giving us a Savior (the salvation story were people are trained to love God the way He wants).

Democracy is, as said, a good way to govern things on earth. But when it comes to the spiritual, it is wise to remember that God is not limited to think in our terms. He loves everyone of us, but we have to answer that love by freely choosing Him. Love is always mutual self giving, not a struggle for power ...

May God bless you and help you to see His path!

* In a catholic church, lay people read the readings of the day, while the deacon (if there is a deacon) or the priest (when there is no deacon) reads the Gospel (the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament).

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