Monday, July 03, 2006

God, Lego and Pestilence

While preparing my Sermon on Sunday I was struck by a new (to me) in sight on a verse that tends to come up as one of the most disturbing.
Then the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the Israelites, and Yahweh said to Moses, 'How much longer will these people treat me with contempt? How much longer will they refuse to trust me? I shall strike them with a pestilence and destroy them!'
Numbers 14:10-12. I was reading the story in the Brick Testament, a standard research tool I know. I was struck that just a few panels/verses before the Israelites were muttering
All the Israelites muttered at Moses and Aaron, and the whole community said to them, 'If only we had died in Egypt, or even in this desert!' Why has Yahweh brought us to this country for us to perish by the sword and our wives and children to be seized as booty?'
In this context God's response make much more sense. The Israelites were saying it would be better to die than have to face the giants who occupied the promised land. God's response is along the lines, of 'yeah I can arrange that.'

- Peace


Richard said...

I've noticed a shift in attitude when it comes to the issue of a loving God doling out punishment, disaster, or hellfire upon his people. The older attitude seems to be "well, they deserved it because they sinned".

The "newer" attitude (though often CS Lewis gets quoted which makes me think the idea isn't all that new) seems to be that people are reaping the natural consequences of what they sow. (A more contemporary example might be Anakin Skywalker accusing Obiwan of turning Padme against him and Obiwan replying "you have done that yourself")

The wording in this passage feels like the "older attitude" but when you point out the mutterings and their refusal to conquer the promised land, it starts to feel more like the "newer attitude".

Dave King said...

For me it was a naritive connection, that God was in fact saying he'd give them what they asked for, to die in the desert. The sending pestilence seems to me a reference to the plagues that rained down on Egypt, and a contrast to the manna he'd been sending. Both big reasons that they should have been trusting him to deal with the giants in the land.

For me it connects God into the story as opposed to him just deciding he's had enough of these people. It's the type of connection the reading each verse as though it stood alone misses. Not sure if that's new or old, but it's different than some of the stuff I grew up with, but not all.

- Peace