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.

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.

God Calls It Quits

What You’ve Missed…
* Jeremiah cries over Israel’s disobedience.
* God tells Jeremiah to take off his underwear, and after reading about God telling Isaiah to do the same, I’m starting to think Magic Mike might be the holiest movie in theaters right now.
* Jeremiah cries some more.
* God forbids Jeremiah to marry.
* Jeremiah continues to cry, breaking women’s hearts everywhere, who will never receive a rose from the world’s most sensitive bachelor. (Author’s note: No actual, historical evidence has been found to support the idea of Jeremiah being a heartbreaker. But we’ll keep looking…)

Day 225
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 31, 49-51

What I didn’t include in the re-cap above are the following verses God spoke through Jeremiah:

“I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.”  (Jeremiah 12:7)

“So this is what the LORD said to his people: ‘You love to wander from me and do not restrain yourselves.  Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people…’”  (Jeremiah 14:10)

“‘You have abandoned me and turned your back on me,’ says the LORD.  ‘Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you.  I am tired of always giving you another chance…I will destroy my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways.  There will be more widows than the grains of sand on the seashore.”  (Jeremiah 15:6-8)

Basically it’s the end of the line for the Hebrews.  They ain’t ridin’ on friendly, little Thomas the Tank Engine that’s for sure.  “Minding the Gap” isn’t going to do anything for anyone at this point because Israel is cruising full speed on a Japanese bullet train.  A bullet train to hell.

Okay, maybe that’s somewhat of an exaggeration (not to mention an awesome horror movie tagline, which I would like to copyright and sell to any interested parties).  However, God does seem to truly be at the end of his rope here, ready to call it quits.  Ready to not simply abandon His people, but fully destroy them.  That’s some intense talk.

What confused me though was noticing I still had quite a bit of the Old Testament remaining in my Bible.  How could this be the end of the Jews if there were still hundreds of pages to read?

Turns out, God STILL shows some compassion.

“‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”  (Jeremiah 31:3)

“‘Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?’ says the LORD. ‘I often have to punish him, but I still love him.  That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.”  (Jeremiah 31:20)

WHAT!?  God, you JUST said you were going to destroy them, because you were tired of giving second chances.  Your words, not mine.  What’s the deal?  It seems like you’re changing your mind quicker than Lady Gaga changes, well, everything.   I don’t mean to be rude, but God, it seems like you’re going back on your word quicker than a Kardashian reneging on their wedding vows.  What’s the deal here?

If you’re wondering whether God spoke back to me, He didn’t.  (And if you’re wondering if He smote me for such blasphemous questioning, He didn’t do that either.  Surprised?  Yeah, me too.)

It’s here I’m left scratching my butt, trying to figure out how God works.  Yes Jeremiah goes on to explain God heard Israel crying out with an apology for turning away, repenting, and asking to be reunited with Him again, (Jeremiah 31:18-19) but still, God said no more second chances.  Yet, God relents, and not only has mercy on His people, but goes so far to say He will bless them, bringing them happiness, joy and rest.

I’m about as confused here as I was the first time I tried to French kiss Jeni Herring in seventh grade.  At the end of it all (which was probably about three seconds honestly), I just stood there, feeling really awkward, not having the slightest clue what to do or say.  Unlike God, it was soon thereafter when Jeni decided that she preferred actual kissing to being slobbered on by an over eager nerd, and called it quits for us.

But I know God hasn’t left me.  (Then again, he hasn’t been on the receiving end of my “particularly salivary” make-out style.)  And that’s the point.  He didn’t turn his back on Israel either.  Even when He said He would.  He says no more second chances, and then gives them another chance!  He says it’s over for good, and then decides to stick it out.  What am I supposed to do with that?  It’s honestly incredibly frustrating.

I mean, I guess it comes down to the fact God just does what He wants?  Maybe.  Or that His bottom line is the whole “everlasting love” deal He mentions?  Maybe.  Or that He is more like a parent than we realize, and even though He’s at His wit’s end (can an infinite being have a wit’s end?) with his kids’ behavior, He still finds himself charmed by them, being overwhelmed by how much He loves them, to the point that He changes His mind?  Maybe.

Maybe it’s all of that.  Maybe it’s none of it.  Who knows?  (No, really, tell me if you do.  I’d like to know.)  Or maybe it’s like my ability to French kiss and I’ll just never get it.