God’s Temper Tantrums And General Bad Behaviour
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Assuming there is a God and assuming that the Bible is God’s word and an historical record of His activities (and you won’t hear anything to the contrary in church and from other formal Christian religious organisations) then the standard hype you hear, the standard image projected of God (and son) tends to be ‘warm and fuzzy’. It’s all about love, compassion, mercy, kindness and forgivingness, not hell, fire and brimstone. There’s at least one Bible-oriented Internet site that gives you a “verse-of-the-day” which is always ‘warm and fuzzy’ – a Biblical verse you’d whisper to your dying grandmother. However, if the church, religious organisations, even Biblical Internet sites stuck to a ‘wrath of God’ message they would be way more intellectually honest. Alas, people want to hear ‘warm and fuzzy’ not ‘wrath’.
Here are just a few selected ‘warm and fuzzy’ KJV Biblical quotations.
2 Corinthians 13: 14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Daniel 9: 9: “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;”
Ephesians 2: 4: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”
Ephesians 4: 32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Joel 2: 13: “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
So now let’s turn to and examine the Biblical ‘wrath of God’ and see how ‘warm and fuzzy’ God really is. In the beginning, God spits the dummy…
GENESIS: In the beginning God starts off on the wrong foot and continues out of step throughout Genesis.
Well Adam and Eve get booted out of the Garden of Eden by you know who. Now this is hardly the action of a good host, especially when there wasn’t a readily available hotel room down the road as an alternative for our original loving couple. There’s no mercy, compassion or forgiveness here.
Then God drowns nearly the entire human race with forty days and nights of torrential rain. Only Noah and a few of his kin plus a few selected animals ever get to see dry land again. Now if that’s not genocide, I don’t known what is! Hitler could have cited this as a precedent for his own extermination philosophies. One interesting puzzle here is that if God singled out Noah and a few of his relations to survive that flood, then Noah and kin must be God’s chosen people. Therefore their descendents must also be God’s chosen peoples. Alas, since those descendents repopulated the planet, and since not all of that repopulation were favoured by God, then something’s screwy somewhere.
Then we come to the Tower of Babel. People build a tower (early prototype of the skyscraper) upwards towards the sky (i.e. – Heaven). God is apparently terrified by this action, and retaliates by creating and fostering numerous languages on these upstarts so that the architects and builders, etc. can’t communicate since they all speak now in different tongues. How that is accomplished isn’t adequately explained. Still, it’s a rather painless way of learning a foreign language even at the expense of forgetting your own native tongue. Further, to ensure that no correspondence will be entered into, all and sundry get scattered to the four corners of the globe – did God hire a fleet of jumbo jets to transport them? Anyway, since even the tallest of modern terrestrial structures don’t remotely reach Heaven, God worried needlessly. It’s often said that “God works in mysterious ways”. My translation of that pithy but copout statement (something that explains nothing) is that God is as loony as the Mad Hatter. God needs not only to chill but is in desperate need of some serious therapy.
God then, having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed again, terrifies poor Abraham and nearly gives him a heart attack by ordering him to execute his son, Isaac. An animal is substituted at the last minute and so God says “ha-ha, fooled you, I was only playing a little joke”. However, the damage was done and that sort of joke is hardly good PR designed to command loving respect. Ask yourself, is this the way a real loving God would behave? Would you appreciate being on the receiving end of God’s little joke?
After another bad hair day, God gives Sodom & Gomorrah the A-bomb treatment since the good folk of the twin cities don’t meet God’s moral standards – moral standards? Talk about casting the first stone! God did such a good job of destruction here that to this day no trace of the twin cities has ever been found! Some alchemy is also practiced as the complex multi-element biochemistry of Lot’s wife’s human body is transformed into a pure compound of just two elements – sodium and chlorine. Neat trick that one.
Throughout Genesis God’s composure is anything but cool, calm and collected. He really needs an aspirin and a good lie down at this point, and, we’re only through just the first Biblical book. What horrors are yet in store?
EXODUS: Apparently God was just warming up in the bullpen with his temper tantrums and smiting in Genesis. His nasty side really shines and comes to the fore in Exodus.
Ancient Egypt is ground zero for starters when God inflicts the ten plagues on the Egyptians (obviously not His chosen people). Those plagues included mass murder of the first-born as the grand finale.
God’s not done with the Egyptians however as for an encore He drowns Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, or was that the Sea of Reeds?
God’s personal Constitution is then imposed on His own Chosen People, the Israelites. That Constitution is more widely known then and now as the Ten Commandments, but God exempts Himself, especially the bit about “Thou shall not kill”.
LEVITICUS details a potful more of God’s ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ and ‘or else’s’. God loves laying down the law – as long as it’s His law. In any other context He’d be considered a bully at best or a dictator at worst. He’s certainly not into making laws via the concept well known as democracy.
NUMBERS continues the ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’ parade, but also contains some bits not fit for kid’s TV viewing – violence!
There is dissention in the ranks of the Chosen People out there in the Sinai wilderness and so there’s mutiny afoot and the Biblical equivalent of Captain Bligh (i.e. – God) will not be denied His wrath. Actually there were two related mutinies. The first and minor mutiny ends with a whimper and not a bang. The second and major mutiny ends with a bang and not a whimper. It ends when God kills thousands of His Chosen People with a plague (love those germs) and an earthquake (shake, rattle and roll) as punishment for rumblings in the ranks. Further on down the wilderness track we have the episode of the ‘golden calf’ mark II (i.e. more idols; more idle worship). So God, knowing that His Chosen People didn’t build up sufficient immunity from His last plague, sends another – the local undertaker gets to bury another 24,000 Israelites.
Somewhere along the line here, a pissed-off God does an about-face and instead of leading His Chosen People to the Promised Land via a pillar-of-fire by night and a pillar-of-a-cloud by day in quick-smart fashion as in Exodus, He now dooms the Israelites to wander about aimlessly in the desert wilderness for forty years instead. Not even the Spartan army toughened up its recruits via living-off-the-land survival training in this sort of barbaric way. Who’d want to be an Israelite? So with ‘friends’ like God hanging around looking after you: who needs enemies! But enemies there were.
DEUTERONOMY: There’s one major problem with the Promised Land as far as the Israelites are concerned – it’s already inhabited and occupied by non-Israelites. As the Amerindians and the Australian aborigines found out, possession maybe nine-tenths of the law, but it doesn’t protect you from bullets (or spears and swords).
Hitler had his chosen people invade Europe. God directs His Chosen People to invade the Land of Canaan (the Promised Land). That makes God no better than Hitler IMHO.
Oh, Moses finally caves in to old age (at a relatively youthful 120 years young, at least when compared to Methuselah and a few others) – RIP. However, before heading off Heavenly-bound he gives the Israelites a good old fashion Winston Churchill type V-for-Victory speech akin to ‘meet them on the beaches’, etc.
JOSHUA: Hitler had his generals, and so too God.
God appoints Joshua to replace Moses as leader, and to command and lead the invasion of the Promised Land along with a little rape and pillage, looting and wanton destruction on the side.
Jericho is the first to fall, followed in quick order by the rest of the cities in Canaan Land – and you thought the Germans perfected the blitzkrieg. In old Wild West America there used to be a saying that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”. That has a precedent. There’s nothing original there for the Israelites are well known for taking no prisoners. All shall be put to the sword. Whether that’s Gods philosophy or Joshua’s I’m not sure, but more likely as not Joshua took his marching and smiting orders from his non-elected commander-in-chief, president-for-life, Sir God. I’m sure Joshua wouldn’t have done anything without God’s approval, least he be replaced, court martialled and smote as well. Anyway, to the victors go the spoils and so the invaders divide up the newly conquered land between them. God must now be quite pleased with Himself as His Chosen People are now King of the Hill!
JUDGES: Once the Israelites get settled into their Promised Land, lapses into idolatry and a bow and scrape now and then to some of those ‘other gods’ happen. God has to redress this wickedness via some more smiting – just to keep His Chosen People on the straight-and-narrow mind you.
1 SAMUEL: The wicked Philistines nick off with the Ark of the Covenant, but a bit of Heavenly sent germ warfare takes care of that and the Ark is returned to its proper custodians.
2 SAMUEL: Another first-born gets wasted by God’s wrath, this time the offspring of David and his unmarried bed-partner, Bathsheba.
JOB: Job involves not only Job but a very, very ‘odd couple’ bedfellow-sharing partnership indeed. God gets all buddy-buddy with Satan and in fact hires Satan to cause our hero all sorts of misfortunes and calamities. For example, Satan employs one of God’s favourite tools, germs, to test Job’s immunity against them. Alas, Job has no immunity against divine germs, and so Job ends up covered with boils from head to foot. All of this was just a means to an end, the end being to test Job’s faith in God in the face of adversity. So, Abraham and Job have something in common with which to vent their spleen over and pour their bile on – your ever loving and always compassionate God.
JONAH: In the Book of Jonah (Jonah 4.6-11) God has the audacity to say (in admittedly a rather obscure way) that He’s God of all nations and has concern for all nations and their peoples, not just His Chosen People. That’s because He spared the Assyrian city of Nineveh (after Jonah warned them to shape up or else) which wasn’t inhabited by His Chosen People. Regardless, tell the Egyptians that God is God of all nations! God should go crawling down on His hands and knees to Cairo begging for forgiveness from the Egyptian people for fairly obvious reasons.
While there are many references in the New Testament (Luke, Romans, Ephesians, etc.) of others saying or implying that God is a god of all nations and peoples, not just Israel and the Israelites, I can’t find a reference where God Himself says this, so it’s all apparently a case of someone who told someone who told someone, etc. It’s all second hand testimony to that effect, unlike the Book of Jonah where God speaks for Himself.
Yet even in the New Testament we find in Luke 1: 68 a passage that praises the “Lord God of Israel”, so it’s difficult to know what to believe. But assuming a shift, then one could also view the shift of ‘God of Israel’ to ‘God of all nations’ as a behind the scenes grab for power – a coup against all those detestable ‘other gods’ who ruled over other kingdoms and nations. Gods like Odin, Zeus, Baal and Horus. That would certainly be consistent and fit in with God’s egomania and sadistic personality, behaviour and constant demands for all and sundry to bow and scrape down to Him. God acknowledges numerous times that there are other gods that He does so really hate mortals to worship, so why not bump them off Mafia style and take over the world Himself?
At this stage God petty much just retires to sit on His Heavenly throne and no doubt pats Himself on the back for a job well done up to this point. He no doubt keeps Himself amused with all of the shenanigans we mortals get up to down on terra firma. Most of the rest of the Old Testament is full of office politics, who’s sleeping with who, local wars, civil wars, revolts, personal squabbles, back-stabbings & assassinations, infightings, political intrigues, idolatry, corruption, executions, with more ungodly plots and amoral subplots than you can shake a serpent at – the sorts of things commonly reported today on the nightly news or in the morning newspaper, or round the clock if you’re surfing the Internet. There’s also a few fairy tales thrown in for lite entertainment involving say Samson’s haircut or Jonah’s whale of a tale.
Based on a lot of those above-mentioned shenanigans, there’s also lots of Old Testament Biblical finger-wagging about what God’s gonna do when His already short and burning fuse reaches the dynamite. It’s sort of like the standard “just you wait until your father gets home”! God actually commands a lot of people (like Zechariah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, etc.) to wag their fingers on His behalf. Methinks that’s a tad too much like buck-passing. It’s God’s responsibility to wag His own finger and say “naughty, naughty – daddy’s gonna take off his belt and whip you good now”, not that any of this finger-wagging actually eventuated to date in anything or to anything. Talk about crying wolf. Well, maybe God’s alarm clock failed to go off and He’s still sawing logs, and all hell will break loose when He finally arrives at the office.
Or maybe in the end God is perhaps getting tired of all His smiting and His wickedness. Not that He has turned over a new leaf entirely – not by a long shot. In that final Biblical book, Revelation, which is as far removed from ‘warm and fuzzy’ as you can get, God delegates others to do His dirty work for Him. It’s a rather unusual hands-off approach for Him. God is the scriptwriter (or inspired the mortal scriptwriter), producer, director but not the star of the show. He’s not one of the actors in the drama. He leaves the acting to others, like angels and his son.
Oh, speaking of Revelation and all that it implies, among other of God’s little pleasantries, He created Hell so you’d have a warm place to sleep your eternal sleep. How very thoughtful of God to provide the ancient’s equivalent of the electric blanket!
Now in conclusion, is this the sort of deity you really want to spend eternity in Heaven with?
If you still believe after all of this that God is a loving, compassionate, caring, merciful, forgiving God then there’s this rather large statue in New York Harbour I’ll sell you going real cheap!
P.S. – Jesus too had a temper and a mean streak. Like father like son? But that’s another topic for another time.
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write by Joshua Underwood