Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Swear, Temptation Galore, Token Agreements, and Broken Promises

“For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself,” Hebrews 6:13

I purposely start this chapter with the verse from Hebrews that states that since God could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself. I have problems with this verse for a couple of reasons. First, since when does God, or since when would God, find it necessary to swear by anything when making a promise? And secondly, since God is essential to the Trinity, the Trinity being the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t swearing by himself constitute swearing by the Holy Spirit (part of himself) which would then be blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, something expressly prohibited in the Bible? Let us go point by point beginning with the first question and continuing in numerical order.

Since when does God, or since when would God find it necessary to swear by anything when making a promise? According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2001 Fourth Edition), the word ‘swear’ means,

“1. To make a solemn declaration. 2. To promise; vow. 3. To use profane oaths; curse. 4. To assert under oath. 5. To declare or affirm with great conviction. 6. To administer a legal oath to.”

Provided that God retains all of the characteristics as so mentioned within the Holy Bible I just cannot imagine God being anything other than solemn, right? Sure, the Bible does in fact mention God laughing, or rather, expressing mirth. Generally though, these verses are more along the lines of God laughing at someone and not with them. This is evidenced in this verse:

“But the one who rules in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them,” Psalm 2:4.

Going back to the definition of swear it also means to promise or vow. Okay. I get that. However, that simply does not apply here in the sense of making a promise or vow, because, if you read the Hebrews verse carefully you will see that God first made the promise to Abraham and THEN swore on himself. So, God cannot say that he intended the verse to signify his swear as a promise he had made with Abraham. Again, the verse clearly states God made the promise antecedent to swearing.

The third definition of profane oaths certainly does not apply. I also think that the fourth definition does not apply because that definition says, “…to assert under oath.” There is no reason for God to do such a thing as assert under oath. To assert under oath implies that there is a higher power or higher authority that the individual swearing will be held accountable to should the terms of the promise or vow be violated by either of the parties involved. An oath is also a way of ensuring the involved individuals are telling the truth, like a sort of super-promise, if you will. These things just do not apply to God, though. God could not do that, swear to be held liable in case of a lie on his part, if he wanted to as such would mean there is a power greater than God that God must submit to.

The fifth part of the dictionary definition is, “…to declare or affirm with great conviction.” Again we run into a problem, and in this case it has to do with the vocal authority of God. Think back to the story of Creation in the book of Genesis. What does it say? It says “Then God said” and following that whatever God said simply was. There was nothing noted about God having to say anything more than once. In fact, it only makes sense that God would only have to say something once being as though whatever he says goes…no matter what. It is the ultimate in authority that is expressed through speech when the expressing individual only has to say something once. Any more than once and there is a silent inference that the expressing individual simply is not as powerful as they would like to think they are. God would never need to declare or affirm any one of his commands; this is because the fact that he is God automatically included all authority from any direction on any level with his original statement.

The last part of the dictionary meaning is, “To administer a legal oath to.” The term ‘legal’ pertains to law, and it really doesn’t matter whether that law is spiritual, mental, physical, and so on and so forth. The point of the term is to denote liability should any involved statutes, laws, legislation, or the like be broken by any individuals involved. In addition, since, according to the Holy Bible, God is considered be the highest authority anywhere and perfect in all of his omnipotence, there would be no need for an oath or swear due to that supposed perfection. There would be absolutely zero possibility that he would or even could break his promises. For God to swear by himself is contradictory to his nature of perfection as well as a waste of time.

Temptation(s) seems to enjoy a good amount of attention in the Bible. Many individuals are familiar with the line from the Lord’s prayer that goes, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” Matthew 6:13. Yet another verse states, “Let no one say, being tempted, from God I am tempted, for God is not tempted of evil, and himself doth tempt no one,” James 1:13. If you really think about it the idea that God does not tempt is a bunch of poppycock. If God is in control of everything, and if nothing can come into existence but by God, and if man is to be subject to the perfection of God, then ultimately God is responsible for any temptation that occurs…because He, God, is considered first cause.

When I was a kid I specifically remember being told on many an occasion that man has zero control over anything in the universe, cannot in himself create anything from scratch (because God is first cause and everything flows from him), and certainly possesses no power or authority or title that would allow for him in any way to issue a decree, verdict, or action that supersedes anything derived of God (which is everything). Then in the next breath I was taught that God gave man freewill, which makes man responsible for all the bullshit temptations he creates and gives into.

So, which is it? Does man have any kind of power, or doesn’t he? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say God is the ultimate Creator and that man has no creative jurisdiction, then turn around and say man abuses his freewill by creating temptation. That is so stupid. If man has zero power and authority to create substance from the lack of substance it would then follow reasonably that man cannot create temptation on his own where there is no temptation. In order for man to do anything with temptation it has to first exist AND man must be aware of it.

Everything has to start somewhere, right? For everything that exists there is supposed to be one force, one mitigating and motivating factor…God. Certainly man could manipulate what God has already brought into existence, but he cannot create in the truest, purest sense of the word. Therefore, temptation must begin with God. In other words, man may have the ability to vary the degrees of temptation but it is God who is responsible for introducing such a loathsome thing in the first place. When I was younger, one of the things that bothered me the most when I tried to get answers to these type of questions and issues was that eventually, whomever I was asking ran out of answers and simply stated, “Well, God works in mysterious ways that we do not understand. We have to accept that. It is his divine plan.” What a cop-out.

When it came to the temptation of Jesus Christ it also occurred to me that there were a few things that were just a little screwy. I was taught that the whole point of Jesus being tempted by Satan was to show his perfection relative of being the Son of God, to show mankind how we were supposed to behave in the face of temptation, and to show the loving strength of Jesus that allowed him to rebuke Satan and resist his temptations. Since all men are born into sin they simply cannot avoid all temptation on their own; they need Jesus to do that.

Here lies the problem, though. Look at the differences in the degrees of temptation that Jesus is subjected to by Satan, as opposed to the degrees of temptation that beckon man whichever way he turns. What is Jesus’ first temptation? Well, he has been in the wilderness for quite a spell and is hungry. Satan is aware that Jesus is hungry and so tells Jesus to change some stones into bread so he can have something to eat. Then Satan takes Jesus to stand on the temple roof and tells him to jump off to see if God will catch him. The very last thing Satan tempts Jesus with is the possession of all the cities and kingdoms of the world, if only Jesus will bow down and worship Satan.

Now let’s look at some of the things man is tempted with, shall we? Well, we have drugs (both legal and illegal), sex and all the subjects and themes related to sex, foods that are anything but healthy to eat, money, more money, politics, the desire of the strong to subjugate the weak, anger (whether or not it is justified), and an amazing array of other temptations. How in the hell can Jesus’ temptations even come close to the severity of what man is tempted with? They cannot. The imbalance between the two is immense and obvious. Well, Jesus was strong enough to resist temptation but man wasn’t. Really? Jesus was tempted to turn a friggin’ rock into bread so he could have something to eat; Joe Schmoe is regularly tempted to steal money from a multi-million dollar company or tempted to turn poppies into dope. Jesus was tempted to throw himself off of the temple roof to see if God would catch him; Joe Schmoe just can’t seem to shake his addiction to narcotics or internet porn. Jesus was tempted with the possession of the cities and kingdoms of the world; Joe Schmoe is tempted to destroy all the cities and kingdoms of the world that think and believe differently than he. Man simply has far more experience than Jesus ever had in dealing with temptation.

Consider this: Say that your vehicle needs engine repair. What do you do? You look for a good mechanic. How do you know if the mechanic is a good mechanic? You ask for references or examples to back up his assertion that he is a good mechanic. Apply that to the temptation issue at hand. People want to resist temptation and are even cautioned to do so. In order to facilitate overcoming those things which ought not to be done man is informed he needs Jesus to help him through the temptation. But, why would man do this? Why would man ask Jesus to help him with temptation when it is crystal clear that Jesus has ZERO experience when it comes to facing and defeating temptation as man knows it to be? If the mechanic you choose to work on your car claims to have experience repairing vehicles, but in reality that experience is nothing more than washing the windows and checking the oil you are going to want a different mechanic. Sure, the guy may be great at washing car windows and changing oil, but his proficiency in regards to such should not be confused with the experience necessary to work on and repair an engine. An engine is far more complicated than an oil filter and an oil pan. The bottom line is that Jesus’ supposed experience with temptation and defeating such is completely irrelevant and not in the least bit helpful in aiding man to deal with the heavy-duty temptation he regularly deals with.

Promises and agreements abound in the Bible just as temptation does. Whether it is God promising or agreeing to something with man, or men coming to an agreement or promise between themselves, there is plenty to work with. Here, I will not bother with the agreements and promises between men, but agreements and promises between God and man.

Let us first look to our customary dictionary meaning of the word ‘promise’ and the word ‘agreement.’ According to the American heritage Dictionary (2001, Fourth Edition) a promise is, “1a. A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; vow. 1b Something promised. 2 Indication of something favorable to come, esp. future excellence or success.” The word agreement means,”1 Harmony of opinion; accord. 2. An arrangement between parties regarding a method of action or covenant. 3. Law. 4. A properly executed and legally binding compact. 5. Correspondence in gender, number, case, or person between words.”

Now, these definitions seem harmless enough until you take a look at some of the things in the Bible said by God that qualify as promises or agreements. Being that God is God and his word is law it follows out of necessity that God himself is the ultimate in authority and law. When it comes to an agreement the definition says that a harmony of opinion as well as an arrangement between parties constitutes an agreement. However, how can this be when some of the so-called agreements God makes are devoid of harmony or arrangement between parties? Have you really and truly read some of the promises and agreements in the Bible? Some are entirely horrible and absolutely nothing that man (at least not those men in their right mind) would ever agree to or find harmony of opinion with. Yet, God gets away with making all sorts of terrible promises and agreements simply because he is God, and if he says there is an agreement or promise, then, by golly, there is a promise or agreement…regardless of what man has to say on the matter.

Here we will take a look at various promises made by God. Understand that I will not list them all, but instead choose those promises that become twisted in the mind of God or that for some reason have some very small print that man, unfortunately, fails to recognize until it is too late. I will list the verses and then add my personal comments and opinions.

“I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all life,” Genesis 9:15. This verse is a fine example of God playing semantics with man. Think about Hurricane Katrina, the tidal waves that struck Indonesia, The tsunami that struck Japan, deadly floods in Galveston, Texas, decimating floods in the Midwest United States…the list goes on and on. While I mention only a very few floods, there are many, many more within all of human history. In many cases the numbers of lives lost are absolutely staggering:

In 1707, Hoei, Japan, a large earthquake caused a tsunami that killed approximately 30,000 deaths. In Tosa, about 18,441 drowned.

In 1887, in Henan, China, the Huang He swelled with heavy rains and overflowed the levees. 900,000 people were killed.

In 1931, the Huang He flood and caused 1,000,000 to 3,700,000 to drown.

In 1949, a flood in Eastern Guatemala killed 40,000 people.

The reasonable person my take a look at the floods and the huge loss of life directly resulting from such floods, and wonder what the hell happened to the promise God made with Noah? Didn’t God promise that never again would waters come together in a flood to destroy all life? If that is the case, some might argue, then God is in obvious violation of his covenant with Noah, right? The surprising answer is no.

I can remember being a little kid and seeing news footage of horrible floods that killed thousands upon thousands of people. I specifically recall asking why God would allow such things to happen when he made a promise that they wouldn’t happen? The answer given to me was that God had not violated his promise since the verses about God’s covenant with Noah clearly stated that God promised to never again cause a flood that would destroy ALL life. Basically, this meant that so long as the floods did not cover the entire earth and kill everyone, well, God was not in violation of his promise. Apparently, the covenant God made with Noah did not preclude, prevent, or inhibit God from causing floods here and there, even when said floods resulted in the deaths of huge numbers of people.

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled,” Joshua 21:45. That is probably because there were just not that many good promises. Frankly, some of the promises were rotten, down-right threats to get the Children of Israel to do whatever God wanted them to do.

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving to all he has made,” Psalm 145:13b. Another misguided and deluded verse that makes it sound like God is a really great guy when he really is not. In spiritual semantics this verse would really mean that the Lord is faithful to the promises he has made to people who do whatever he requires of them. Woe to those to whom God has promised anything when they do not listen to him.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say, he promises peace to his people, his saints-but let them not return to folly,” Psalm 85:8. Yeah, sure. See the last part of that verse? The part that says to not let them return to folly is just another fancy-schmansy way of saying people had better do what God wants them to do or else. And another thing, Israel is supposed to be God’s chosen people, right? Well, take a look at the nation of Israel. God might have promised them peace, but he sure as hell has not given it to them. Instead, God has seen to it to place his supposed chosen people smack in the middle of a whole bunch of nations who despise these Children of God, who actually want them dead, and who are very persistent in trying to see such through.

“Then they believed his promises and sang his praise,” Psalm 106:12. And therein lies several problems. The first problem is that people believed his (God’s) promises. God is a being that people have NEVER seen except in the form of a burning bush, pillar of fire, or divine plague. Sometimes God does send angels in his stead, but we are not talking about angels here, okay? We are talking about God. Now, just because his name is God, that does not mean he should get any more credibility than the next individual without providing proper validation. Yet, people still take whatever God promises. The second problem is these same people failed to get everything God promised in writing, and I DON’T mean the freaking Bible, either. I mean actual contract form here, because any other way God seems to be very good at twisting words around, whether they are his words or the words of man. Then, as should be foreseeable to the average brain, when the promises do not actualize and people ask God why he gives some excuse that the terms of the promise are not being obeyed by the people, that they are not behaving in a manner according to the small print of the original promise. Of course, without any literal contract or some type of record to show what the original promise was comprised of the people are left empty-handed. The third problem is that you have these people singing praises to God for the promises he has made when they really should have held off on the singing of God’s praises until they had the fruits of those promises in their little hot hands.

“Blessed be Jehovah, who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there has not failed one word of all his good promises which he spoke through Moses his servant,” I Kings 8:56. Of course there has not failed one good word of his promises…because there were never any good promises. Frankly, it seems like God looks for ways to get out of the promises he has made, looks for the misbehavior of man in order to yank the carpet out from underneath him, or makes promises to man that God knows he will never have to see through being as though he already knows the people he has promised something to will misbehave or do something that pisses him off.

“How sweet are your promises to my taste, more than honey in my mouth,” Psalm 119:103. This verse is the biblical version of that age-old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them,” Psalm 119:140. I was thinking about the sheer lunacy of this verse. Of course a person is going to tell God that the promises God has made are good. Of course this person(s) will say that they love the promises. For Christ’s sake, they are talking about an all-powerful, divine being who created all life and could just as easily erase that life out if it so pleases him. No one wants to speak up and point out God’s severe inefficiencies because for all they know a bolt of lightning will send them straight to hell.

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Issac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,” Hebrews 11:17. I remember hearing verses like this when I was a kid and worrying whether or not God would ever ask me to do something that I either felt was wrong to do, or that had the potential of hurting another being, all in an effort to test my faith and trust in God. By the time I was about fourteen-years-old I decided that an omnipotent God that chose to test people in such a manner (when there was no reason to due to his omnipotence) was sadistic, twisted, disharmonious with all of the love that he was supposed to be, and nowhere near just. A just, true, loving God would never, ever request those in his charge to do something that is in reality nothing short of fucked up.

“Let us hold firmly to an unflinching avowal of our hope, for he is faithful who gave us the promises,” Hebrews 10:23. If you are faithful to God and do all that he asks and requires of you, then when you die (or when the world goes up in a big ball of flames) you will be granted full enjoyment of all of God’s promises. This is the type of scripture that ferries the religious fanatics of the world ever deeper into the land of Lethal Faith, where it is absolutely okay, and even recommended, to wage war on those within society who believe or think differently. Why is it okay? Because so long as you are following the Word of God, the Will of God, and the Commandments of God…well, you are good to go. At that point it does not matter if you are murdering doctors who perform abortions or flying planes into buildings in an effort to rid the earth of as many infidels as possible; you are considered in the eyes of the ultimate divine as being true and faithful, thereby deserving whatever God promised (by inference or otherwise) to you be it heaven or even paradise with seventy-two virgins.

“But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe,” Galatians 3:22. So, I was thinking that this verse basically means that Jesus Christ has made some amazing and spectacular promises, promises that you may indeed participate in…if only you have faith in him. Oh, and don’t forget that your requirement to have faith does not end with Jesus Christ, but also applies to the promises he made, because, you see, even believing in him will not help you to see the ultimate of his promise, heaven. Sure, he promised it to you, but you have to wait until you die to find out if you really do end up in heaven.

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