Archive for the ‘Terrible God’ Category

Christmas Angels

A few years ago Anita and I were reading through the Revelation together, and remarked how many angels there were. Every time we turned the page, we met another flurry of them. (There are sixty-nine references to angels in the Revelation, more than in any other book of the Bible.)

This year at Christmas, we noticed another place where they are concentrated: the Christmas story.

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God is Haughty

In a recent post, I called attention to a word family in Hebrew, derivatives of the verb עלל, with an interesting pattern of distribution. When applied to God, these words are consistently used to motivate people to praise him. When applied to men, they are just as consistently negative, and describe an attitude of childishness and irresponsibility.

This is not the only word family that is negative when applied to man, but positive when applied to God. Here are two examples from another:

Isa 12:5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Ps 17:10 [The wicked] are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.

This time, the focus is on pride. It is wonderful for God to behave in a proud, haughty fashion, but every verse that applies these terms to people condemns them.
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God is Irresponsible

What do these verses have in common?

Isa 12:4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Psa 141:4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.

These verses seem to be very different. The first proclaims the Lord’s glorious acts, using a distinctive Hebrew word that is often used to describe his glorious doings. The second condemns men for their wicked behavior, again using a distinctive word that characterizes human wickedness. Remarkably, these two distinctive words are one and the same: עלילה! What does this word mean? What does it tell us about ourselves, and about God?
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Is God angry with Japan?

Japan is wrestling with multiple catastrophes of unprecedented proportions. The earthquake of March 11 led to a devastating tsunami, and the combination of the earthquake and the tsunami disabled the cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear complex, leading to dangerous instability and release of radioactivity. Any one of these events would be major disaster. Three days later, Shintaro Ishihara, mayor of Tokyo, suggested that the events carried a spiritual message: “We need to use tsunami to wipe out egoism, which has rusted onto the mentality of Japanese over a long period of time. I think (the disaster) is tembatsu (divine punishment), although I feel sorry for disaster victims.” Could he be right?
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