05 Deuteronomy

05 Deuteronomy

How is Any of this Positive?

The Old Testament is beating me down. Where is all the love thy neighbor stuff? I was hoping to feel better about humanity and see why so many people feel the love of God. I have not found that.
The message I have got out of the Old Testament thus far is man is a horrible creature who is prone to self preservation and supremacy over their fellow man. God is the leader of some men who drives them to kill those who are wicked, to take their lands, and destroy their families.
There appears to be no love except the love demanded by God from the Israelites.
From people I’ve talked to about this I get a few specific responses. The first and most common is “it was a different time”. If that is true then the Old Testament is outdated. If it was written for a different world then it isn’t speaking to the people of today. If that is true, then the Church shouldn’t be continuing to use this as a way to spread the word of God.
The second response is “it is justice for sinning against God.” If this is true then I understand where the hateful groups, that condemn homosexuals and bomb abortion clinics, get their motivations. Thus far God has used man to kill and make examples of people who have sinned against him. He has told the Israelites to stone anyone who works on the Sabbath. He has guided the Israelites to invade other people’s land and kill their army, murder their sons and wives, and to only keep the daughters who have not yet slept with a man.
The third response is “the Old Testament is a bunch of fables and isn’t the real crux of Christianity”. This is the only response I’ve heard that gives me any hope. If the Old Testament is essentially a bunch of myths that could be cast aside with the lessons of the New Testament then I have some hope that I may get some good out of this project.
I am quite disturbed by what I’ve read so far. I feel the stories, although do have some good lessons within them, have generally terrible overriding stories.
Yes, the story of Moses is positive. The story of Joseph was very uplifting, but it is only the stories of a few men. And it wasn’t God that made those stories great. God consistently wants to do things that are heart wrenching and painful.
I just don’t see how this creates a love of God. I truly hope this isn’t what the Bible is about.

Bible Read: Deuteronomy 10

I Don’t Like the Name Barney, You are Now Named Swarley

One of the pointless things I’ve noticed about the Bible is the renaming of people. The first time it happens is when God renames Abram to Abraham. I understand this as the point where God decides to give land to the people of Abraham. He also renames his wife. She is no longer Sarai, she is now Sarah. I actually thought Sarai was a much cooler name.
Then we get to Jacob. Jacob is renamed Israel by God. His 12 sons become the 12 tribes of Israel.
Then Moses gets in on the action and renames Hosea. He becomes Joshua. Which I thought was rather unsettling that the renaming of Joshua wasn’t directly from God. Maybe God told him to, but it feels more like modern day where people are trying to clone animals and essentially playing God. Seeing as how this name change idea is something that has only been done by God at this point, seems like Moses may be playing God a bit himself.
The Bible does tell you typically what the new name means, which is fine, but this seems pointless. If someone is going to be a great leader why would you change their name from “Stan” to “Great and Powerful Leader”? If you left it alone then the name Stan would eventually become synonymous with a great and powerful leader.
This is obvious today. How would the average person react to someone named Adolph? Regardless of how much we want our minds to control our actions, a simple word association like that will keep most people on edge.
I don’t have a problem with the name changes, I am just saying they seem silly.

Bible Read: Deuteronomy 23
Well that was Random

I love the fact that there is verse in the Bible specifically for if a woman tries to help her husband in a fight by grabbing his opponent’s genitals. How common can this be?
Now, I would highly suggest no woman does this as the Bible says you must cut off her hand. But, it makes me wonder what kind of fights these were. Did men fight naked back then? Did women watch closely for their chance to goose the other man? Is she being punished for attacking genitals or for touching some that are not her husband’s?
This isn’t the only odd, random verse from Deuteronomy. The best is the strange ritual of the House with One Shoe.
More or less if a man dies before he has children, his brother is to marry her and sleep with her. They are to have a kid and name it after the dead brother so his lineage will continue.
But if the brother doesn’t want to… That is the fun part. The woman is to take the brother to the elders and tell them he won’t sleep with her, which is funny and must be humiliating. Then she is to take off the brother’s shoe and spit in his face. Then she is to tell him that he is refusing to build his brother’s house. Then he will be forever known as the house without a shoe.
What kind of strange rituals are these?
I understand the idea that you can’t go to the restroom in camp. You have to leave camp and bury it, that is just good hygiene. And the whole thing about shaving parts of your hair if you have boils or itches, sure, the medical knowledge was a little lax back then, that is logical. But really? Spit in his face and steal his shoe?

Bible Read: Deuteronomy 27


Sinners!

So much has been said of how the Bible is anti-gay. And yes I have read upon it a couple times. If a man lies with another man as he lies with a woman they both shall be put to death. Or something like that. But, there seems to be a bit of contradiction also.
For example, one of God’s chosen was Jacob, renamed Israel, who had 12 sons born from four different women, his two wives and their two slaves. Somehow this is ok, but the Bible is quite clear of not committing adultery. Maybe I don’t have the right definition of adultery. I thought it was to sleep with someone other than your spouse.
It does go into more detail. If you sleep with someone else’s wife, you should be killed. If you rape someone, killed. If you sleep with someone’s fiancé, killed. If you sleep with a virgin, non married or engaged, and are caught, pay off the dad and marry her. But, if you sleep with a virgin, non married or engaged, and are not caught, if the woman is caught later she’ll be killed. This makes promiscuity seem a bit dangerous.
The point is that God set all these harsh penalties for adultery but chose Jacob who had four partners. But, I could be reading it wrong. I guess multiple wives are fine, I haven’t noticed it being a problem, and maybe slaves aren’t included.
If that is so, then it makes me wonder about the penalty for working on the Sabbath. As I have mentioned before, if you work on the Sabbath you are to be put to death. In that sense being homosexual is about as bad as doing chores on Sunday.
Of course the Bible mentions the Sabbath sin many more times than homosexuality. It mentions it more than having sex with animals as well. Makes me think the biggest sin is working on Sunday. Which I think a lot of people are guilty of.
I don’t mean to harp on this issue, but it was one of the major things you hear about Christianity. I think it has been blown way out of proportion.

Bible Read: Deuteronomy 31


-Seven by Forty-

Anyone who says the Bible is 100% literal is really missing something. There is a very common theme with numbers in the Bible. I am constantly reading the numbers 7 and 40. I have no idea what this means, but it is everywhere.
I remembered from being a kid that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights with the Noah’s ark story. But 40 comes up a lot as does 7.
40 days on Mount Sinai, 7 days of creation, 40 more days on Mount Sinai, 7 days to consecrate Aaron, 40 days in the ark after the rain ended, 7 feast days of the Lord, 40 days Moses face shined from seeing the face of God, 7 branches of the candlestick in the tabernacle, 40 years the Israelites lived in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, Noah brought clean beasts in by sevens…
It is nonstop. Every time something is repeated I expect it to go to 7 or 40.
I am assuming there is some meaning in here, but I have no idea what it is. I always wondered why there were seven days in a week, it doesn’t seem to be astrologically tied, so why? Maybe the answer is because seven is a likable number. Maybe that is why God is all about 7s.

Bible Read: Deuteronomy 32


Status Report Day 30

Moses began the Book of Exodus as a man who did not want God to use him because he was a bad speaker. Moses ends the Book of Deuteronomy by giving a speech to the people of Israel before he dies. This contrast is the type of thing that makes the Bible inspiring.
Through God, Moses takes his fears head on and ventures into a scary place in his life, but becomes better because of it. These are the kinds of things that I have hoped reading the Bible would help me do. I would like to feel a love and faith in God to the point that I will take the big jumps, take the risks to do what I know I should.
At this point, I am not there. At this point, I am still reading these stories with great skepticism. At this point, I am where I started.
The first five books of the Bible have good points and bad ones. There are some very good stories with inspiring messages. There are also a lot of pointless and depressing passages.
If you are going to read the first five books of the Bible, but aren’t concerned with reading every word, just want to get the message out of it, I must suggest you not read all of it. The Book of Genesis is very good. After that you can pretty much skip straight to Deuteronomy. The story is summarized, the rules are summarized, and all that is really left out is the directions for the construction of the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant.
Overall, I am not in a bad mood, but am not refreshed from what I’ve read. I am indifferent.

Books read – 5
Days reading – 30
Chapter read – 187
Outlook on God – Questionable

Bible Read: Deuteronomy