2015 Lent 2

Israelites

Deuteronomy 7:6-11

Yesterday I suggested it’s okay to argue with God.

One of the modern-day arguments our culture takes up with God is his apparent exclusivity in the Old Testament.  The Israelites are God’s chosen people.  So where does that leave the Canaanites, the Jebusites, the Hittites, and all the other -ites that oppose the Israelites?  Well, it means destruction for them, according to the Old Testament anyway.  The walls of Jericho come tumbling down, remember; and the Israelites attack, totally razing the city.  (Except for that prostitute Rahab and her family.  What’s that all about?)

The argument goes that, since the same God who loves Israel exclusively also brings destruction upon all the opposing nations, God therefore cannot be a good and loving God.

Or at least the God of the Old Testament can’t.

Which conflicts with the God of the New Testament.

And the God of Islam.

Etc.

So today I want to argue with the arguers.

Take yourself out of our postmodern mindsets, in which world peace is an ideal that we can actually imagine; in which pluralistic cultures are a daily reality; in which getting along with a neighbor regardless of beliefs and opinions is a necessity, and try to see things through the eyes of an ancient Israelite.

Here was a people wandering through an arid, hot, and dry wilderness.  They had only recently escaped the oppressive and heavy hand of slavery; not by their own powers either, but miraculously. Now they continued in their dependence on God for daily sustenance.  And out here in the wilderness they were hemmed in on all sides by hostile nations, xenophobic nations, prejudiced nations, exclusive nations.

No way the Israelites could ever have begun to imagine our postmodern ideal of world peace.  They continually worried for their own continued existence.

How wonderful, then, to be a people lovingly and protectively cared for by a strong God.  Their God–exclusive or not–was their only hope for overcoming the pervasive fear they dealt with on a daily basis.

Besides, that the Israelites viewed God as exclusive doesn’t mean that we have to.

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