Immutability is big word that was brought to my attention last week, as a friend pointed out the "age of grace" in which we are said to be living. That set off a curiosity in me that again addresses this moment in which so many now question the validity of scripture.
Immutability speaks to an unchanging God, yet the scriptures cast an array of images. To resolve this, we seperate the scriptures as Old & New Testament, Law and grace, but in reality operate in within amalgam of both, though One God. Then of course is required doctrine of the Trinity, One God in three persons, add-ons over the ages.
My thoughts are that all this is necessary because of what we have done in accepting the text of scripture as some direct download from God. In doing so we create contradictory images of God, at least between the God of Moses and the One who said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the father."
The "age of grace" is meant to imply a window of mercy, one quite different than the nature captured in the O.T.'s Genesis accounts and beyond, at least after the Eden incident.
Moses writes that it grieved God that He had even created humanity and
cites times when the Creator is ready to destroy everything, as in Noah's Day, then again after Aaron's Golden Calf moment.
One such text is Genesis 6:5-8:
"And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, It repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, He said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace before the Lord."
There's that word again, "grace."
Then later, Moses speaks of a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Exodus 34:6.
One has to wonder at the wide margins between what Moses heard or reasoned and what this "grieved" God, whom I believe was Christ, truly felt.
Is it possible that we are witnessing Moses's own human struggle with a God of grace, the issue more Moses's than God's?
The "I Am" no doubt truly grieved at the choices men had made given their free will, yet not out of a spirit of anger, but rather grace! Like a good father, working to recover the consequences brought on by the choices of his children. The Apostle Paul referenced "frustrating us to grace!"
My guess is that these contradictory descriptions were by God's design. The scriptures inspired, yet filtered by humanity, thus capturing our struggle.
Ingenious in that while capturing how we interpret life's moments, they set up a distinct contrast with this Being whom we call God, later manifest in Christ.
Unfortunately, we keep trying to seperate out the two, creating an image of a wrathful Being that requires appeasement, even by way of the sacrifice of His Son, when in reality, it's the same Being, himself satisfying what we imagined of him. Even the pronoun and gender assignment a testimony to how ridiculously we think of this Being, that spoke galaxies into existence!
The Christ child likely male only because of the biases of his day!
It was not God that was vascilating based upon emotion, but how Moses was interpreting the situations brought about by the people's poor decisions, and his own bent toward punishment, though all that emotion transferred to God by way of his script.
I have to wonder, if interviewed during his Mount of Transfiguration moment with the Christ, might he have been much softer in his leadership approach.
Was Moses's detail of a hard restart of Creation in Noah's day of God's making or Moses reasoning, given that even Abraham's belief system seems far less aligned with the later legalism of Moses.
Did God's nature shift from Adam to Noah, then again with Abraham, then with Moses, vascilating from full destruction in Noah's day, a restart with Abraham, his faith counted as righteousness, only to again demand adherence to the Law of Moses.
Sunday as I listened to a sermon about what God desires, based upon Micah 6: 6-8, it became fully apparent that the prophets were, as I and others are now sensing, another apocalypse within religion.
By definition, the word apocalypse means revelation. That which is uncovered. It comes from the Greek word which literally means to pull the lid off something. We seem there again, given the recent talk of "deconstruction" among believers, those tired of the traditions, ordinances and of late a heightened engagement with politics, all seemingly void of any evidence of empowerment and true cultural impact...organized religion.
According to the prophet Micah, sacrifices and ceremonial ritual were never what God desired. Religion in his day had become all about a necessary appeasement, rather than grace and mercy. Their belief system still influenced by the long surviving residual of pre-Abrahamic idolatry, one which simply mimicked God's request of Isaac's sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, but afforded little margin for grace, though now fortunately satisfied with a spotless lamb rather than a human child. Sounding harsh I know, perhaps more the Moses in me than the Micah?
Mt. Moriah would eventually be the place where that religious response would be forever dealt with by way of Calvary's lasting message of grace. I can only imagine the ache, pain and patience necessary over the centuries with this God who was Christ! Maybe the "1000 years is but a day" perspective explains such protracted patience.
Perhaps Moses' Exodus moment, rather than solely an escape from Egypt was more the beginning of a slow but necessary walk out of religion, again a strategic "frustration" toward the reality of a God of grace, who is love!
All this journey a necessary part of reframing the true desire of God, which as Micah stated, was not "burnt offerings, with calves a year old, thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? One's firstborn for our transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
Rather that men would simply "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly," which would seem the true nature of this God manifest in Jesus.
My guess is God was grieved at what freewill had delivered, a deepening wickedness, with a religion that cast God as wrathful.
So what did God do, he became flesh dwelt among us, fully human, living a life tempted in all ways as we, but without sin. He then fulfilled religion's requirements of a spotless lamb, freely offering his own self to meet religion's demands. Can you hear a consistent character behind all the shifts and turns of scripture over the centuries?
This Lamb however, was then ressurected, removing any threat of death's power, so that we might never again question God's love!
The entomology behind Micah's "mercy", Ḥasīd derives from Chesed ( חסד) (= "kindness"), the outward expression of love (lovingkindness).
For God so loved Creation that he came, as an only begotten son...full of mercy. Ḥasīd, kindness was the response to his grief, not the slaughter that guilt demanded as Moses and others had perceived, and at times unfortunately, even acted upon.
We humans are quite fickle, God in contrast unchanging!