Friday, March 20, 2009

God: The Beast

There have been some Bible passages which have forever changed my perception of the nature of God. These type of passages have greatly disturbed and saddened me; thus providing me with the impetus to promote Biblical literacy so that Christians will know the true God which they are worshiping. This study involves one such passage.

God (in burning bush form) has finished convincing the reluctant Moses to travel back to Egypt to confront Pharaoh, which will ultimately lead to the liberation of the Israelites from their slavery. Moses, with his family and belongings, has just left his father-in-law's estate.

God: The Beast
When a cat corners a mouse, the cat will make a sport of killing the mouse slowly. The cat will let the mouse run away a little, only to provide the opportunity to pounce on it. The routine is played out again and again, with each progressive step leaving the mouse suffering in more pain from the accumulated injuries until the mouse goes into shock or dies outright. This merciless brutality is the epitome of what beast-like behavior is.

Some men have exhibited the same type of behavior. They've taken advantage of their strength, or position, or authority to toy with their prey, in whatever form their prey happens to be; a prisoner, a coworker, a subject. While it seems to be a natural behavior, it is considered immoral for its lack of justice and mercy and its beast-like quality. But what if these men are just following God's example? We see in Exodus 4:21-23:
The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is My firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship Me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' " NIV
Unpacking this: God is going to perform miraculous signs (through Moses) to convince Pharaoh that God is real, and that He wants the Israelites to go worship Him. However, God is going to alter Pharaoh's free will, by (metaphorically) hardening his heart, so that Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go. Then, God will punish Pharaoh for not letting the Israelites go by killing an innocent bystander, Pharaoh's firstborn son.

This is an appalling revelation of God's Heart. We find that God is not interested in converting the Egyptians from their pagan worship practices. We find that God is not interested in saving Pharaoh from his sinful status to be brought into the Kingdom of Heaven eternally. We find that God is not interested in allowing Pharaoh to side with God through his own free will. We find that God is only interested in flaunting His supreme power and in punishing a man by killing his innocent child.

This made me incredibly disturbed upon first reading. But the fate that would await the Egyptian nation in the hands of a merciless God would end up being vastly more horrific than the thought of the misdirected slaughter of one innocent boy.

I've heard it explained that this was God's justice from the Pharaoh's decree recorded back in Exodus 1:22: “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every [Hebrew] boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."” If so, this justice is ill-targeted and untimely. The Pharaoh that gave this command was already dead, as we learn from Exodus 2:23 and 4:19. God would have been enacting this punishment about 80 years after the sin was committed, as we learn by Moses's age in Exodus 7:7. And so, this is far off from being justice.

As the story of the Exodus continues, we will see how God plays with Pharaoh, and the entire Egyptian nation, like a cat plays with a mouse. Wave after wave of debilitating miraculous signs will incrementally wound and pain the Egyptians until the nation lies devastated and Pharaoh is dead. This is God in His most repugnantly beast-like form.


  1. Wow, I must say that your title was a bit forward (even for me) until I read your cat analogy and realized that you are absolutely right. God hardening Pharaoh's heart had always been a problematic passage for me, but as in all problems in the Bible, I quickly swept it aside in order to continue living in "faith".

    What is amazing to me is that, while passages like this clearly teach about the character of the God of the Bible, Christians will often have "faith" that it is not true.

    For example, take the current banner of "God is love". That statement may be true of Jesus, but certainly not God the father. Yet, the "faith" that it is true continues despite God's evident lack of love for certain individuals and groups.

    Good post.

  2. Thanks Nate! For me, Exodus truly killed the God which I had learned about in Sunday School and church services, and a new image of God was forged in my mind. This new image, the true Christian God, was a god to be feared.

    You are all too correct in suggesting that this display of God's characters is an affront to the philosophy that God is love.

    It's true that a good father will need to punish his children from time to time because of his love for them and the desire to see them become good people. However, a good father will never relish the punishment and will always allow for repentance from the child. What we see in God in Exodus is far from what we would consider good parenting from the Heavenly Father.

  3. Lets face it, only ,Molech,Baal or [Satan,gods gambling opponent]could have handled the Pharaoh and Egypt in like manner.[oops!, I forgot this a monotheism where "the" God speaks of other gods but we're only supposed to believe in one!]God just needed to use the Egyptians to fulfill prophesy.They were just disposable tools..... and some entertainment for a twisted individual.I wouldn't call him a beast though, he more fits the bill of psychopath. I sometimes wonder if God had a wager on this event. This is my take. God: "This son of a bitch is so stubborn, I say it takes 10 plagues before he lets them go" Satan: "Nah, he's a stupid weak,human , I wager 7 plagues" and in the bubble over Gods head it says
    "not if I harden his heart,heh-heh-heh!"

  4. There are so many labels you could apply to God that it may be best to say God has multiple personality disorder...