Today’s Reading: Genesis 27
(Context: Isaac, in his old age, blesses Jacob and not Esau. Jacob, spurred-on by his mother Rebekah, deceives his father to receive the blessing of the oldest son, him being the 2nd. What is most surprising, is that God clearly supports Isaac’s blessing of Jacob.)
Historical stories such as the blessing of Jacob are highly scrutinized by many people, from liberal theologians, to modern Gnostics, agnostics, and atheists. The point of contention is this: Why does the Old Testament God seem to differ so from the New Testament Jesus?
Richard Dawkins, a Christian who turned into a vehement atheist, comes to mind. The second chapter to his best-selling attack on God, “The God Delusion”, has a phenomenal introduction, from a writer’s perspective, yet it is full of deception. In it, Dawkins describes our God in the following way:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (pg. 51).
This is only the beginning to his massive rant, both poetic and incredibly powerful, yet in the end only an uneducated and biased rant. That said, his point is one that Christians must answer. What does the destruction of the world in the the times of Noah have to do with “the lamb of God” of the New Testament? Scripture teaches us that God is Jesus. Christians of the first few centuries really struggled with this reality, leading to a number of heresies that fed-off of Gnostic ideas.
Gnosticism, in broad strokes, teaches that the material world is evil, and the spiritual world is good. To explain how this could be possible, they teach that there are also two gods, the Demiurge and the other god was the “Good God“, as Marcion called him (an early heretic). According to heretics like Marcion, Yahweh was the Demiurge, and Jesus was the Good God. The application to this messy Theology was simple, basically you blame the flesh for sin, telling yourself it was the fault of the “bad” god. Salvation did not have to do with faith in Jesus, but in greater knowledge about oneself and ones self-proclaimed “deity”.
Bananas. Rotting bananas, if you ask me! Well, Richard Dawkins took those bananas and made a smoothy from rotting bananas, making a fortune in the process. Good for him. As Solomon said, all ideas are recycled, there is nothing “new”.
I am not as worried with false philosophies or hollow logic, as I am with the question: Why does the Bible seem to present a two-faced God?
Reading Genesis 27 reminded me of this question that I have thought over time and again, and thankfully there are good answers to the question, both Biblically and logically. I will give one such responses here:
Human sin stains God’s plan. His way is perfect, His way is love and justice. For example, God did not tell Abraham to lie about his wife, calling Sarai his sister. God did not cause the men of Sodom and Gomorrah to live under the disgusting passions of their own unstoppable lust. God did not sell Joseph into slavery. God did not have Dinah raped, or cause the brothers to avenge her defilement by mass murder. God did not instruct David to sleep with another man’s wife and then to kill him deceitfully.
More to the immediate point: God did not ask Rebekah to deceive her husband in sending Jacob to be blessed instead of his brother, Esau. My question to you is: Could God have still blessed Jacob, even if Isaac had blessed Esau? I say, yes, of course. Observe that Rebekah’s decision led to Jacob having to flee to Haran, their ancient homeland, to seek refuge from the murderous intents of Esau. Observe the pain and suffering Jacob endured under the selfish Laban, when he God would’ve given him all of Isaac’s inheritance there in Palestine. Even though Jacob received the blessing, he did not receive the material blessing that accompanied that. Esau actually got it, because Jacob fled for his life!
Now, while human sin clearly stains God’s plan, it never disrupts His ultimate goal. What is that? To bring goodness, love, justice, and peace into a world fighting with all it’s might against it. Why? Because we are stupid and love this world more than His World! Such is our selfish and foolish condition.
Lastly, observe that with the coming of Jesus, He was finally able to truly show us the Face of God. Jesus is God, the “Word was God” (John 1:1). The problem was not with God, but with the communicators. Abraham failed, Moses failed, David failed. Therefore God came instead, the fullness of Deity came:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Later John explains to us the purpose of such a Divine visitation:
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:17-18)