God Pooped

What You’ve Missed…
* The Israelites encounter close to 400 years of radio silence from God when it seems He stops speaking to His people. We can’t go 5 minutes without checking our phones to know what’s going on. They went 400 years. Great, now I just feel pathetic.
* The Old Testament is old news. We’ve rounded the bend and now find ourselves in the New Testament.
* John the Baptist invents baptism, lives like a sketchy homeless dude in the woods, eats weird hippie food, wears weird hippie clothes, and tells people to prepare for the coming of God. Basically he was like the weirdest dude ever.

Day 267
Daily Readings: Mark 1, Luke 1 and 3, John 1, Matthew 1

I remember back when I took Latin in 6th grade, and I heard the myths of the Greek gods and how they would come down to Earth, interact with people, then go back to Mount Olympus. I remember wondering if the Greeks actually believed that stuff, and if they did, wondering how anyone could be so dumb. (Though they were on to something with those togas. They basically walked around in Snuggies. I think it’s worth it to revisit that idea.)

But those Greek legends are just made up stories. Everyone knows they aren’t real. No one actually thinks all-powerful gods, who created everything, come down from their heavenly thrones disguised as people to walk among us. No one who saw Thor thinks it’s real. (Mostly because that guy is waaaay to pretty to be as tough as he is.)

However, the New Testament starts out with this exact premise. God came down from His heavenly throne, in the form of a man, to walk among his own creation. Think about that for a second. If you’re a Christian, it means you might have more in common with the mythology of the ancient Greeks than modern science. It means the idea that the Greeks might have been crazy for believing what they did applies to you and me as well.

“In the beginning, the Word (Jesus) already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him…So the Word became human and made his home among us.” John 1:1-14

So what happens next? An angel visits Mary saying,

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:29-35

Long story short, Jesus is born. (And if you’re looking for a totally awesome, action-adventure blockbuster version of the story not found in the Bible, check out Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. He’s the dude who wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and clearly someone I need to be friends with.) So Jesus is born. So God becomes human. So what?

Let’s just stop and think about what this means for a minute. For one thing, it means God pooped. A lot. That’s crazy. It also means he cried as a kid. God cried. It means He had to do chores when He didn’t want to growing up. It also means He was vulnerable to disease, to physical pain and injury and to death. Think about the risk He took in living in such a volatile and dangerous world.

I’m not here to debate the whole virgin birth thing, or to discus whether Jesus was God or a prophet, or neither. I believe He was God. I’m interested in exploring the idea of what that looked like, what it says about the character of a God who behaves in such a way as to intentionally make Himself vulnerable. To lower himself, even to the point of having to live under the restrictions of a human body. It’s crazy.

I can only wonder if God had to learn to share, a value He Himself created. I wonder if He was ever interested in girls. I wonder if He ever had His feelings hurt. I wonder if He loved stories, staying up late, and sneaking out of the house at night. I wonder if He loved playing with fire, and if when He realized that He created fire, He thought, “Dude I’m glad I invented this. Fire is awesome!” (Because it is. I don’t understand how people aren’t pyromaniacs.)

God as man opens up so many ideas. God was hungry. God was tired. God was happy, sad, confused. And the craziest one, God learned from people. Let me repeat that. God. Learned. From. People. That thought alone blows my mind. I’m just glad I wasn’t Jesus’ dad, because I would have taught God to pick His nose, take lots of naps and to make Taco Bell a central part of His diet.

When Bible Characters Attack!

What You’ve Missed…
* Seeing as I haven’t written in forever, you’ve missed tons. But it’s 11:15 at night, and I’m trying to be out the door in the next 45 minutes, so I’ll just keep it simple.
* You missed the story of Esther, which would make a totally epic, totally over the top, totally drawn out drama film like Ben-Hur. I probably wouldn’t watch it.
* You missed that totally weird and over-sexed king from 300, who apparently was a real dude. (No word on whether he was actually a third black, a third extraterrestrial and a third bizarro freak, or if that was just Hollywood’s creative liberty.)
* You missed the Jews who started rebuilding their temple and the walls of Jerusalem. Oh, and all the Jews in captivity in Babylon were released and came home. It’s kind of a, “if you (re)build it, they will come” Field of Dreams moment. Just with way less Kevin Costner and his “acting.” Christian or not, I think we can all throw an “amen” out there for that.

Day 265
Daily Reading: Nehemiah 12-13

Quick background story on Nehemiah. He was the governor of Judah for twelve years. As order is being restored to the land and Jewish people, Nehemiah is overseeing everything, and really taking point on making sure the Hebrews return to life based on God’s law. And by taking point, I mean the guy got his hands dirty putting in some serious man hours with hands on construction work. (Who knew politicians could actually do the work they talk so much about doing? I wouldn’t have believed it if it wasn’t in the Bible.)

So as the temple is coming together, and the walls of Jerusalem are cobbled back together, and life is really starting to look up, Nehemiah busts in like the Kool-Aid man (ironically enough though, he actually builds walls, rather than breaks through them) and shuts down the Jews recent party vibe.

“About the same time I realized some of the men of Judah had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab…So I confronted them and called down curses on them. I beat some of them and pulled out their hair. I made them swear in the name of God that they would not let their children intermarry with the pagan people of the land.” Nehemiah 13:23-25

He beat them and pulled their hair? That’s pretty extreme. And remember this guy held political office. Talk about the Governator…this guy wasn’t just playing a tough guy in the movies, he was a tough guy in real life. (Author’s note: It is important to mention some people would say real tough guys don’t pull hair. I say you decide. I also say, real tough guys do whatever it takes to give themselves more time to run away.)

Seriously though, Nehemiah just kind of loses it here and goes ballistic. I get that he was upset that his people had married outside of their culture, which God instructed them not to do, but, geez, to go straight into beating and torture? I mean, how is this infraction even related to hair pulling? What does it have anything to do with anything, other than Nehemiah being totally pissed?  You can’t just going around as a holy man of God, beating people and ripping out handfuls of their hair.  Can you?

It’s all pretty crazy when you think about it. Clearly he wasn’t afraid to REALLY get his hands dirty if you know what I mean.

So while many people may think of Nehemiah as just another nice Bible character who loved God and served him with gentle joy, I’d like to suggest he was a pretty intense dude who could seriously fly off the handle. He was also possibly the world’s most awesome combination of Sylvester Stallone (from Rocky), Arnold Schwarzenegger (from politics), and Chuck Norris (because he probably had a killer beard.)

(And as everyone knows when it comes to Chuck Norris, the term killer beard is NOT an exaggeration.)

Dirty Hippies

What You’ve Missed…
* God tells Israel things are going to get better.
* God tells Egypt things are going to get worse.
* God tells the country of Gog they’re basically dead already.
* Oh, and pages and pages listing Jewish ancestors for hundreds of years.  Apparently the Israelites were science fiction nerds because they gave their kids weird alien names like Uzzi, Zadok and Bukki.

Day 246
Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 8-9, Daniel 4, Ezekiel 40

We’re going to keep it pretty short and sweet today.  So, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a crazy dream and then has Daniel interpret it for him.  Here’s what Daniel tells him:

“This is what the dream means…You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals.  You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses….but you will receive your kingdom back again when you learn that heaven rules.” (Daniel 4:24-26)

Bummer.  The worst part though is it came true.

“Twelve months later he was taking a walk…as he looked across the city he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon!  By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ … That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.  He ate grass like a cow and was drenched with the dew of heaven.  He lived this way until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:29-33)

Later he admits God is the ultimate ruler, his sanity returns and he is restored as the head of his kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

Okay….just, hold up a minute here Bible. You’re telling me that the most powerful king in the land spends what could be months or years living like a Bonnaroo hippie, getting all cuddly and weird with nature, acting like a wild animal, and that he’s probably gone completely insane…and then he just goes back to being an awesome king who everyone loves even more than before?  I mean, I know people love a leader that can party (who wouldn’t want to cruise for chicks with President Clinton?) but this seems a bit much.

I can’t picture Obama being chased out of the Oval Office, and going on to spend the next few years following some jam band around the country, living out of a tent, growing some dreads and chewing some “grass”, only to return to the White House as President, with the full confidence of the nation behind him.  That’s ridiculous.  Fox News would never shut up about it, probably saying a real American would never even think of acting like that.

(Sure this sounds a lot like Bob Marley now that I think about it.  But Marley was always that way.  And he was cool.  And he’s ruining my analogy so I’m moving on.)

Would you want to follow a guy who completely lost his mind, lived like the dirtiest, homeless redneck ever, and then became president?  Would you believe that’s the guy God would put in charge of an incredibly powerfully nation?  Is it just me, or does that seem incredibly ridiculous to anyone else?  Because that’s what happened.

*Author’s note: My apologies to Bonnaroo fans.  I don’t think you’re all dirty hippies.  Just most of you.