Friday, September 25, 2009

Sustaining the Priesthood

As mentioned in the previous study on burnt offering atonements, there is not much background to Leviticus. This study picks up in Leviticus 2, which further explains why it's good to be the priest, as a continuation of a set of laws which seem to come from out of nowhere.

Sustaining the Priesthood
Imagine having the wealth and respect of a king without having all of that risky and dreary country-running responsibility. Does that sound good to you? Then maybe you would have enjoyed being a priest in the times of the Old Testament.

In Exodus 28:1, we have seen how the priesthood would belong to Aaron and his sons for the generations to come, making it a family-only affair. Exodus 25-31 establish a posh mobile palace for the priests made by the best artisans and with the best materials available. God's priests be adorned in fine cloth, gold, and bells; to give them respect and so that God would not kill them. And we have seen the priests collect money for atonement like a God-directed tax from the entire male adult population.

Now, imagine if you could feast on the best grains and meats without ever having to reap and sow or tend to a herd, or even pay for it. A man has got to eat, and priests are no exception. As we see in Leviticus 2 through Leviticus 7, God's laws provide for the priests there too.

Leviticus 2 covers grain offerings to God. The grains are to already be processed; ground into fine flour (Leviticus 2:1-3), or baked into cakes or wafers (Leviticus 2:4-10), or crushed and fire roasted (Leviticus 2:14-16). Essentially, the grain was to be ready to bake or ready to eat when presented to the priests for an offering. The priests burned a small “memorial portion” for God and then ate the rest themselves.

Leviticus 2:13 goes on to say that all of these grain offerings must be seasoned with salt. This is purely for the flavor, and is therefore additional evidence of these laws being contrived by man. After all, why would God require such a potentially deadly food additive? God would know better. Man would not, at least not for several thousand years.

Regulations regarding offerings continue on to Leviticus 7, but not without Leviticus 6:14-23 strangely repeating some regulations of the grain offerings. (Remember, this was written before electronic word processing, so document organization was a bit flawed at times.)

For sin (Leviticus 6:24-30) and guilt (Leviticus 7:1-10) offerings, the priests get to eat all of the slaughtered animal with the exception of fatty tissues and the kidneys. The priests even get to keep the hides from the animals (Leviticus 7:8)!

By the way, in case you are wondering the difference between guilt and sin offerings, it's like this: guilt offerings made atonement for both unintentional (Leviticus 5:14-19) and intentional (Leviticus 6:1-7) sins, while sin offerings only made atonement for both (Leviticus 5:1-5) unintentional and intentional sins. Clear as mud? And yes, this is true atonement (without Jesus!), as we can see that the guilty party will be forgiven by God in Leviticus 6:7.

Also, did you notice that only males were allowed to eat from the grain, sin, and guilt offerings?

In Leviticus 7:28-36, you find that the priests even get to eat a share of the offerings made for fellowship. While this type of offering was open to any ceremonially clean person to eat, the priests got the breast and the right thigh as payment for performing the offering ceremony.

Yes, the priests ate very well. The Israelite population brought the best of their fields and flocks to offer to God, and to feed the priests. Offerings had to be without defect and of the proper value (Leviticus 6:6). The priests feasted from the labors of others without toil or financial cost.

In fairness, we should expect for priests to have been compensated back then, just as we would today. Certainly, we should not expect God to repay service to Him with a subsistence existence. However, the best foods from the land, the elaborately lush clothing and property, and amassing of monetary wealth of the priesthood as dictated by God's laws seem to put a priority on physical possessions and temporal honors. This detracts from what should have been the great spiritual wealth and honor of being in service to God, but it makes perfect sense for a man-inspired religion.

In that perspective, it is no wonder why some of the poorer masses may have looked with disdain and envy on the Pharisees, a sentiment echoed in Matthew 23:5-7 and Luke 11:43. It should also be no wonder as to why someone, or some group, would have been enticed by that wealth and honor into creating their own religion.

At the end of Leviticus 7, Leviticus 7:37-38 states that all of this information regarding the regulations of offerings were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, finally tying these chapters into the storyline asynchronously. In a way, that makes sense because it would not really be necessary for all of the Israelites to agree to the regulations for offerings as part of the Covenant with God. On the other hand, it could be an indication of later authorship, details created after the original story to help fill in the gaps.

Extra Credit Reading:
Check out the regulations regarding the fellowship offerings in Leviticus 7:11-21. Particularly interesting is Leviticus 7:18 where it talks about eating the offering leftovers on the third day will not be credited to the offerer. Then ponder if that section, and that verse in particular, seems a bit too arbitrary and legalistic for God to have commanded.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Burnt Atonement

The Book of Leviticus appears to come out of nowhere. Exodus ends with the completion of the Tabernacle. Then, Leviticus begins with God going right into a list of laws without providing any background as to where the Israelites are or why God is providing these additional laws after He had already provided a law set which everybody agreed to follow in Exodus.

Some of the commandments in Exodus are essentially copied in Leviticus, while in Exodus are changed in Leviticus. In addition to those seemingly inspired by the laws Exodus, there are many additional commandments, including some which were not even hinted at within the laws of the covenant in Exodus. It seems that God is changing the terms and conditions on the fly, as we will see in our studies of Leviticus.

Burnt Atonement
As Hebrews 10:1 tells us, the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament) was a shadow of the good things yet to come in the future with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. However, there is a huge omission of the New Testament. The burnt sacrifices foreshadowed by the Old Testament have been completely neglected by the New Testament. Not only is this amazing due to the fact that burnt offerings permeate the Old Testament text, but also because it was considered a critical component in one method of atonement for sins, as we will see in this study of Leviticus 1.

In Leviticus 1:3-9, you will find the instructions on how to make a burnt offering of a bull. Notice that the person making the burnt offering must put his hand on the head of the bull, and that physical act essentially transfers the person's sin to the bull so that the bull's sacrifice will make atonement for that person. Some may say that this was a foreshadowing of the transferring of sins to Jesus. However, there is no required confession or stated belief that the bull has taken the sins of the sacrificer. Instead a physical connection is made to transfer the guilt. Nobody ever is recorded as putting their hands on Jesus' head, and nobody is asked to do so.

Then notice how the sacrifice is prepared: slaughtered, skinned, cut into pieces, washed, and then completely burned on the altar. That burnt offering completes the atonement process. Strangely, at least from the perspective of foreshadowing, Jesus was never chopped up and burned.

With the preparation you see how the priests were to sprinkle some of the blood of the sacrifice altar where the sacrifice was to be made. Last I checked, neither Jesus nor any priest ever sprinkled Jesus' blood anywhere.

Finally, in the last verse you see that the smell of the burnt sacrifices and offerings is pleasing to God. Just so that there is no doubt, God mentions that the smell of burnt offerings and sacrifices are pleasing to Him no fewer than 39 times in the Law. The pleasing aroma reference is exclusively used in reference to burnt offerings and sacrifices (and there were many other types of sacrifices and offerings). It is not the actual sacrifice or offering, but the burnt smell which pleases God, and pleases Him greatly!

Oddly in contrast, in the New Testament Ephesians 5:1-2 and Philippians 4:18 make reference to fragrant offerings which were not burnt, the former being about Jesus and the latter referencing gift that Paul had received from a church. Both references stray far from their physical, smoky origin.

Leviticus 1:10-13 goes on to describe similarly how to make a burnt offering of sheep or goats. Implicitly, this is for atonement as well, although the part about putting your hand on its head is missing. Also a new requirement of slaughtering the offering on the north side of the altar is added. There is no New Testament mention of the north in regards to Jesus. If this was not foreshadowing, why would God add such a seemingly meaningless requirement? Possibly this is tied into astronomical roots.

Once more, we see that the burnt aroma is pleasing to God.

Leviticus 1:14-17 concludes the chapter with how to make a burnt offering of doves or pigeons. Again, implicitly this would be for atonement but does not mention laying a hand on its head. The bird's blood is drained on the side of the altar. In a strange twist, the bird's crop is not burned, but rather thrown into the ashes on the east side of the altar.

Again, we see that the burnt aroma is pleasing to God.

As we have seen in the study, there are many details in these atonement offerings which are inconsistent as foreshadowing details of Jesus. Even if we step back from the details and look at the big picture, examining what is common to each of these atonement variations, we find two things. First, blood is put on the sides of the altar. Second, the aroma of a burnt offering on the altar is what pleases God. Remarkably, neither of these two critical components are included in Jesus' sacrifice.

A foreshadowing need not match in every detail to be accurate. However, consistently repeated themes and components would and should be expected to be part of the foreshadowed prophesy, and thereby they would be obvious witnesses to the foreshadowed event. In the absence of a toasted Jesus, it is not surprising that the Jews greeted the Jesus story with skepticism.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Kingdom of God Is Near What?

In the New Testament, Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:15 both record that Jesus' first preaching topic was that the Kingdom of God was near. Acts 1:3 tells us Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God for 40 days after His resurrection, and Acts 1:7 records Jesus' second to last sentence He spoke on earth dealt with the time of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Sandwiched between these bookends of Jesus' earthly life you will find over a hundred references to the Kingdom of God within the four Gospel accounts.

The Old Testament never once uses the phrase “Kingdom of God”, but it does contain the concept of it in various forms. Here are just a few selections from many possible Old Testament examples of what God's Kingdom is: everything (Psalm 103:19), pre-exile Israel (1 Chronicles 28:5), or post-exile Israel (Isaiah 51:3-4). It is the last example which is tied into the New Testament's Kingdom of God, because many of the prophesies of the Prophets did not come completely true after the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile, and so the Jews were anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of these prophesies for prosperity of their nation, eternal peace, and many other blessings.

The Kingdom of God Is Near What?
When you read the Gospels, it almost seems like whenever Jesus was not performing miracles, giving moral teachings, or being crucified, He was talking about the “Kingdom of God”; elaborating on matters such as when will it be established, how you can get in, and what it is like.

Did Jesus know what He was talking about? If so, we should expect a fairly consistent viewpoint expressed throughout, as well as a meshing with the prophesies of the Old Testament (OT) with regard to this imminent Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is Near
In a previous study where we focused more on the timing aspect, we observed that Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God would be established during that generation. So when the phrase “the Kingdom of God is near” is used (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 10:7, Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9, Luke 10:11, Luke 21:31), it appears that “near” refers to time as opposed to location, as in the Kingdom of God would be established soon. This message of timing is fairly consistent throughout the Gospels and is echoed throughout the rest of the New Testament (NT), such as in Revelation 22:7.

There Will Be a Judgement
In that same previous study, we discussed some of the OT prophesies associated with the Kingdom. The Kingdom would be established with a big judgement, which Jesus' words also support (Matthew 10:14, Matthew 12:41-42, Matthew 13:41, Matthew 13:49-50, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 22:11-13, Matthew 23:35-36, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, Luke 10:10-11, Luke 11:31-32, Luke 11:50-51).

There Will Be Eternal Peace
The Kingdom is supposed to be eternally peaceful, and ruled from the throne of David too. Strangely, Jesus does not directly mention peace in the Kingdom, but Luke 1:32-33 does mention the eternal ruling from the throne of David. Jesus also mentions eternal consequences, both good (Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 10:25-28, Luke 16:9, Luke 18:18-30, John 3:14-16, John 3:36, John 4:13-14, John 4:36, John 5:24, John 6:27, John 6:35-58, John 6:68, John 8:34-36, John 10:28, John 12:25, John 12:49, John 14:16, John 17:2-3) and bad (Matthew 18:8, Matthew 25:41, Mark 3:29, Mark 9:43-48).

On a side note, did you notice how often John's Gospel mentions eternal life compared to the other Gospels? While it permeates John, it is scarcely mentioned in the others. This huge difference could easily be explained if John is a fabrication instead of a true account of an eye witness, or if the other three Gospels are complete fabrications.

Parable of the Growing Seed
In Mark 4:26-29, Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God is like a man that seeds his field, the seeds sprout and grow without the man, and then the man harvests his field when the grain is ripe. This parable only makes sense when referring to the constituents of the Kingdom, not the Kingdom itself. The man would be like a preacher, the seeds the people who receive the Gospel, and the ripe grains are the converted Christians or people ripe for conversion.

This parable seems a little contradictory to the message that “the Kingdom of God is near”, because it instead suggests that the Kingdom is already here and is slowly growing. If instead Jesus had said “the Kingdom of God is beginning” or “come be a part of the growing Kingdom of God” then this parable would seem more accurate.

Parable of the Mustard Seed
Jesus provides a parable about the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-34, Luke 13:18-19), where the Kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed which then grows to be the biggest garden herb. That yields some interesting implications. Common explanations of this parable take a form that the mustard seed represents the Gospel news spreading from a small, humble beginning into a massive Kingdom of believers.

This parable implies that the pre-Jesus prophesies with regard to God's Kingdom were of little to no value, and instead the advancement of the Kingdom started with Jesus. And, again, this parable seems to suggest a growing constituency of an existing Kingdom as opposed to a coming Kingdom.

Perhaps even more interesting is the implication that there are other herbs in the garden coexisting with the mustard, or in other words, that there are other kingdoms which will coexist with God's Kingdom, but God's will be the biggest kingdom. Coincidentally, while it is not widely advertised, there are verses from some OT prophesies which would support the idea of multiple kingdoms peacefully coexisting with God's Kingdom, such as Isaiah 66:19, Jeremiah 33:9, and Micah 4:2-5.

Parable of the Yeast
In Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:20-21, Jesus is recorded as saying that the Kingdom is like yeast which a woman worked into dough. Most Christian commentators take this to mean that the yeast is the Gospel message, and from a small source that message spreads to the entire world, or at least spreads to the Elect as represented by the lump of dough.

Consider a somewhat more literal, and more amusing, interpretation: The Kingdom of God is like a spreading fungus which converts what is pure and sweet (sugar) into something which causes some men to act irrationally (alcohol) while discharging waste products (carbon dioxide).

Of course, like the two parables above, this speaks of enlarging the constituency of a Kingdom which already exists, not about a Kingdom which was about to become established. At least this point of view is internally consistent, and depending on your interpretation of “the Kingdom of God is near” as well as the rest of the plan for the Kingdom, it is not necessarily contradictory.

Something Involving Demons
When the Pharisees called into question the authority by which Jesus drove out demons, Jesus replies that if He drives out demons with God's help, then the Kingdom of God has come to them (Matthew 12:22-28, Luke 11:14-20).

So somehow driving demons out a few people means that the Kingdom of God has come? Well, no. That's not at all what the OT prophesies predicted. Perhaps this was meant to be a warning, to tell the Pharisees that Jesus casting out demons through the power of God was a sign that the return of God ruling Israel was imminent, but the Kingdom has not yet come...

Here It Is, or There It Is? Neither and Never.
There is one final stop on our tour of the Kingdom of Jesus. It is the Kingdom of Jesus, because, as you will see, Jesus has stopped describing the Kingdom of God. Examine Luke 17:20-21:
    Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the Kingdom of God is within you." NIV
In other words, the Pharisees ask when will the Kingdom of God come, to which Jesus replies (seemingly to a different question altogether) that they will not see it because it will not be in some location, but rather it will be inside people (at least for the Elect). In this sense, the Kingdom of God is supposed to be the peace and joy that comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

It is rather silly that Jesus would have used the expressions “Here it is” and “There it is” because there was no question about where the Kingdom of God was to be. All of the OT prophesies reference this Kingdom as being centered in Jerusalem. Nobody would have questioned where it was. “When” was the question, not where. Jesus avoided answering that question, or perhaps instead suggested that it already existed.

More importantly, this is blatantly inconsistent with the OT prophesies. For instance, Isaiah 2:4 talks about this peace as a worldly peace as we would recognize it today, turning swords into plowshares and having no more wars, not as some warm and fuzzy inner peace. In turn, it is also inconsistent with the NT verses which concur with the OT prophesies, including some of the words of Jesus which we discussed above.

When you sum all of this information up, you get an interesting picture. You can see that Christianity tied itself to the OT prophesy to give it some intrinsic credibility. However, it also worked to redefine the common interpretation of those prophesies. Anything which could be applied to Jesus was kept intact, or at least included with biased and out-of-context relation (as we have seen in previous studies). Anything relating to the coming Kingdom of God was subdivided into two components (as we have seen in this study).

The first component of the redefined Kingdom was that of a growing spiritual constituency. This component internally changes people; bringing them into the Kingdom in the sense of being residents there, or at least future residents there.

The second component of the redefined Kingdom is actually the rest of the OT prophesies which have not yet been fulfilled. This is the actual physical manifestation of the Kingdom on earth (or maybe the “new earth”) where everyone will live in peace, experience no pain, etc.

While that two-part philosophy may have worked back in ancient time, it stands off as somewhat ridiculous now. Why ridiculous? Because none of the OT prophesies prophesied any waiting period, growing period, or maturing period for the Kingdom. They pretty much suggest that the Kingdom was coming in a serial progression; a Messiah shows up, God doles out judgement, Israel becomes eternally peaceful and prosperous. In fact, when you look at the OT prophesies in their actual context, such as Isaiah 51, they tend to suggest that the Kingdom was coming when the Israelites returned from their Babylonian exile.

Think about it. Why would God give a prophesy of something that was going to happen 2000 years (or more) after a different major event was going to happen without any mention of how long it would take? In other words, why would God give a prophesy about Jesus' second coming and the associated establishment of the Kingdom in the OT when God did not provide any OT prophesy in regards to waiting for a fungal bloom to populate the Kingdom before it would actually show up?

The original OT prophesies overshoot Jesus by about 2000 years, at least so far. To put this in perspective, most Bible scholars suggest that King David ruled Israel around 1000 BC. So now, the time from when supposedly Jesus died to today has been about twice as long from when God promised David that his lineage would rule Israel forever to when Jesus supposedly walk the earth. It appears that the Kingdom of God is near never.

Friday, September 4, 2009

God According to Exodus

The detailed studies of the Book of Exodus are done for now. It is time to review the highlights and considered what we have learned about the true nature of God.

God According to Exodus
Back in Genesis, God had made a covenant of “blessing” with Abraham, part of which was that his descendants would be oppressively enslaved for 400 years, while the sin of the Amorites reaches its full potential, and then would be led out of slavery with great riches. Early in the book of Exodus 400+ years have come to pass. God was not moved into action right at 400 years, nor was He moved by the Amorites becoming totally sinful. Instead it seems that God had to be reminded of His promise by hearing the groaning of the Hebrew slaves before taking action. Their slavery did not bother God until that time, maybe because it was God that caused their slavery in the beginning. When God does get concerned, He selects a fugitive murderer, Moses, to lead the Israelites out of slavery.

In burning bush form, God tries to convince Moses to become the on-earth leader of the Israelites for the upcoming Exodus from Egyptian slavery. Despite having created Moses, knowing everything about Moses since his birth, knowing historically the way that humans behave under all sorts of circumstances, and knowing perfectly all of the past, present, and future, and despite choosing the exact course of the conversation, God gets impatiently angry with the reluctance that Moses exhibits. Moses does not even commit after God reminds him that God is the one that makes people blind, deaf, or mute, and visa versa. Eventually, Moses does agree to go on with God's plan, after He changes it to be more palatable.

God gives Moses a teaser of what was to happen: Moses would perform some miracles and ask the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go worship God, but God would harden the Pharaoh's heart so that he would not let the Israelites go. Then God would punish the Pharaoh for not letting the Israelites go by killing his innocent firstborn son. God's planned beastly spectacle of power shows no evidence of love, forgiveness, mercy, or justice, but the actual story of events leading up to the Exodus would be much worse.

When God was about to kill either Moses or his son, Gershom, for not having Gershom circumcised, Moses's wife, Zipporah, cuts off Gershom's foreskin to prevent the murder. If God was going to kill Gershom, it speaks of willingness to punish, or in this case kill, the innocent to punish sinners and a reduced sense of value of the life of children. If God was going to kill Moses, it speaks of a lack of omniscience and a malleable master Plan. God chose to have this dramatic confrontation instead of simply reminding Moses to circumcise his son.

After Moses and his brother, Aaron, confronted the Pharaoh the first time, the Pharaoh increased the burden of the Israelites. This prompts Moses to question God's Plan. God tells Moses that His Plan for Redemption is to bring the Israelites from Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land with mighty acts of judgement. Furthermore, God will harden the Pharaoh's heart to prevent his repentance, presumably to justify God's acts of judgement. So much for mercy, forgiveness, and free will.

God begins to plague Egypt for the Pharaoh's refusal to let the Israelites worship. The Pharaoh's magicians can inexplicably copy the first two plagues, but fail to do so on the third. It is not until the fourth plague that God thinks to spare the Israelites from the plague effects.

God kills all of the Egyptian livestock, then afflicts Egyptian people, pets, and wild animals with painful boils, and then kills all of the Egyptian livestock, slaves, and people who were still outside during a terrible hailstorm. (Yes, it appears that some Egyptian livestock were killed twice.) From the sixth plague on, God is explicitly hardening the Pharaoh's heart, thereby making a mockery of free will and repentance.

By the time the eighth plague rolls around, God tells Moses that the reason He is plaguing the Egyptians is so that stories can be told to later generations about how harshly He dealt with the Egyptians.

By the time of the tenth plague, it is clear that things are not going exactly according to the original plans. God decides that the plague will not just kill the Pharaoh's firstborn son, but also all of the Egyptian firstborn sons, all of the firstborn sons of the non-Israelite Egyptian slaves, and all of the Egyptian firstborn male livestock. (Yes, it appears some livestock were killed a third time!) For the God-forced stubbornness of the Pharaoh, many innocent people and animals suffered and died in God's wrath. After the killing was done, God has the Israelites pillage the Egyptians as they begin the actual Exodus.

Not content with leaving the Egyptians without a massive slave population they have counted on for hundreds of years, without livestock, without their firstborn sons, and wallowing in the various corpses of the plague carnage, God goes on to add insult to injury. Well, actually add injury to injury. God manipulates the Pharaoh's free will again to lure the Egyptian army into the middle of the parted sea where God then drowns them all. Now the Egyptians are utterly defenseless as well.

After drowning the army, God leads the Israelites through the desert. Contrary to being eager to supply the essential needs of His Chosen People, God does not provide them with any water for the journey for 3 days, and then only after the Israelites complain of thirst.

Eventually, God gives the Israelites rules to live by. They included the popular version of the Ten Commandments, which are associated with some rather excessive punishments. They also included rules about slaves and Hebrew servants, which collectively suggest a sexual role for female maidservant and that slaves and servants were worth less than free men in terms of their value as people. Furthermore, because God gave rules that regulate as opposed to prohibiting slavery, God implicitly approves of slavery.

Most of the rules were merciful when appropriate, but just; what you would expect from a loving, fair, and omniscient God. But some of these commandments really leave you wondering. Besides the slavery and inequality mentioned above, there was also an absolute intolerance to witches and those which worshiped other gods. Also, God demanded that the firstborn sons be redeemed to Him, only to later supersede that rule, thereby challenging His own Plan and omniscience.

In the process of God and the Israelites promising each other devotion, replete with burnt offerings blood sprinkling, we learn that God only wants the men to appear before him three times a year and that He controls all sickness, miscarriages, and infertility. In the closing ceremony, 70+ people see God standing on blue crystals, and God graciously decides not to kill them even though they have seen Him.

When discussing the rules for priests, we discover that God would kill His priests for something as trivial as having the wrong underwear or forgetting to wear bells.

Later when a census is desired, we find that God sometimes accepts cold, hard cash for atonement; no blood required. This atonement is only extended to men, who are the only ones counted in the census.

God gets so angry when the Israelites begin worshiping a golden calf that He wants to kill them all. It's up to Moses to calm God down. Then Moses then destroyed the original stone tablets in front of the Israelites in an angry fit. So God has Moses hang out again while new tablets are inscribed upon, but not before God brags about how He is slow to anger (which is yet to be proven) and how He is just in punishing the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of the wicked. When the stone tablets are done, we find that the true Biblical Ten Commandments all have to do with honoring God as opposed to dictating a master ethical code.

In the final chapter of Exodus, we see the Tabernacle constructed in a manner which keeps people separated from God. The most sacred stone tablets containing the Biblical Ten Commandments are put inside the Ark of the Covenant, which is then put in the Holy of Holies which, under normal circumstances, nobody but the High Priest can enter once a year. While God will be with the Israelites, it is clear that He does not want to spend much time with any one of them. And furthermore, God wants to hide the proof of the Covenant from everyone, which yields the curious question of why the stone tablets were made at all.

What We've Learned
God sometimes must be reminded to care and to keep His promises.

God is the one that makes people blind, deaf, or mute. God also controls all sickness, miscarriages, and infertility. God may at times neglect even the basic needs of His people, like water.

God would have killed either Moses or his son for not circumcising his son, which either shows a lack of an omniscient master Plan or shows a willingness to kill innocent children.

God does have a plan of Redemption and Judgement, but it has nothing to do with an eternal afterlife reward.

God will take control over free will at His whim. God toys with the Egyptian nation like a beast, like a cat toying with a mouse, showing no desire for repentant converts, and actually wants children to be told about how harshly He treated the Egyptians, a harshness which even extended to the innocent non-Israelite Egyptian slaves.

God's laws, while mostly good, are sullied by some extreme punishments, inequality, slavery, absolute intolerance, and even a lack of planning and omniscience in some laws which He would soon supersede. God will kill you for not dressing the way that He wants you dressed. God is also proud of His brand of justice, which involves punishing generations yet to come for the sins of their forefathers. God's top Ten Commandments are about honoring Him, not behaving ethically.

God is proud of characteristics He thinks He has, despite all evidence to the contrary.

God is impatient despite omniscience. God repented bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and wanted to kill them all.

In short: God is a forgetful, cruel, non-egalitarian, megalomaniacal beast, wielding absolute power according to His desires, and not according to perfect code of ethics.

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