Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Account of God in Numbers

Starting in chapter eleven of the book of Numbers (known in Jewish literature as "Book of Wandering in the Wilderness"), we read about God getting angry...alot.

In the reading for Number last week (I'm still behind), I read a fascinating comment regarding God's anger as a reaction to human action: "The Torah often describes God as angry, especially in these next several chapters (starting with ch. 11). It portrays God as a passionate God, a God who cares deeply about what we do and how we live."

This intriguing comment is followed up by a quote by the great writer Abraham Heschel: "The God of Aristotle (the ancient Greek philosophers and Western Civilization) is the Unmoved Mover; the God of Israel is the most-moved Mover." The commentary goes on to read: "moved to anger by human cruelty, corruption, disloyalty, and ingratitude."

Rule number one for the wandering Israelite: don't make God angry.

Rule number two for the wandering Israelites: Stay grateful to God for what good you have already received, and keep trusting him to provide what you need next - especially when you are enduring days when the going is difficult, the days are hot and the stomach constantly rumbles; do what he says and you will have more to be grateful for in the end.

This is how to live and not make God angry. This way of living upholds the dignity of your fellow human, it upholds your dignity before your neighbor and God, and it most importantly upholds God's dignity before you and your community.

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