My grandfather passed away recently. How recent? A week ago was his funeral…
I’ve had a bit of time to ponder all of the things that happen around a death – the searching for a funeral home, going through pictures, seeing family you haven’t seen in years. It was during this time that I started to recognize the gory of God that sits behind the scene. I had the opportunity to speak at my grandpa’s funeral. I started with a reference to Genesis 1:2. This verse seemed to explode with new information.
The Hebrew language has different forms of poetry and idioms than English. This should be obvious. When you start to learn some of the Hebrew mindset and culture, you start to see these coming up time and time again. In Genesis 1:2 we have a form of poetry. I’ll use a proverb as an example: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes,” Proverbs 13:1.
This form of poetry makes 2 statements that are related. The first is about the wise, the second about the fool. The 2 statements are therefore opposite. This also happens in Hebrew with synonyms. In Genesis 1:2, we see “darkness was upon the face of the deep” (statement 1) and “the Spirit of God hovered over the waters” (statement 2). The question is now as to whether these are synonyms or opposites.
What is being cross compared?
In statement 1 we see darkness and “the deep” as the two nouns. In statement 2, we see the Spirit of God and “the waters” as the two nouns. So the Spirit and darkness are being compared, and the the deep and the waters are being compared. Now, in Hebrew, the word used as “the deep” is sometimes used as a synonym for sheol – the grave. And the word translated as waters is plural (which is obvious, but not obvious). Water is always plural. The singular is the word, “what.” The word water is the plural of “what,” which raises some interesting questions…
If “what is it” and a synonym for the grave are being compared, they don’t seem to be too far from one another. It would appear as though these deeps and the water are the same thing. It is 2 different words/expression describing the same thing. If that is the case, then the darkness is also an interpretation of the Spirit of God…
But I thought that God is light.
This started a journey for me. There are a lot of places where God comes with darkness. In Genesis 15, a darkness comes over Abram before the Lord appears to him as a brazen lamp and burning fire (another bit of Hebrew poetry describing 1 thing 2 ways). God sent a darkness that can be felt on Egypt. In Exodus 20:21, Moses approaches the darkness “where God was…”
God upon Sinai is described in Deuteronomy 4:11 as black clouds and thick darkness. In Deuteronomy 5:11, God speaks out of the thick darkness. 2 Samuel 22:12 claims, “God made darkness His canopy around Him.” In Psalm 18, God makes darkness his garment; in Psalm 97, clouds and thick darkness surround Him. What is interesting about Psalm 97 is that it is another parallel. The clouds and thick darkness are compared with righteousness and justice.
Now, there are many more references to darkness as being a curse and a bad thing. I don’t reject that.
What I’m fascinated with is that there is any connection at all to God and darkness. I have thought of God as being the one who separates the light from the darkness, not the one who is surrounded in darkness. Why would God reveal Himself in the midst of clouds and darkness? The references to clouds reminds me of Jesus who is coming on the clouds.
I wonder if the reason that I’m having these thoughts at this time is that death has surrounded me. In the wake of my grandfather’s death, I’ve found the clouds and thick darkness. They represent sorrow and bereavement. They represent suffering and loss. They represent a death of some sort. There must be an absolute stripping if there is to be an absolute filling. There must be an absolute death if there is to be an absolute resurrection. And maybe this is why we can claim that God is light: we are children of the resurrection. For those who have passed from death to life, we can behold God in His fullness.
This ideology includes and eclipses the idea that the clouds and darkness are there because no one can see God in his full glory. It embraces it, but then says that unless there are clouds and darkness we cannot see God in His fullness and glory. It is in the times of darkness being upon the face of the deep that the Spirit of God is hovering over our own lives. We won’t be able to know God as He in fact is until we are willing to undergo suffering and bearing our crosses. In bearing our own cross, the cross of Christ becomes all the more clear as to the glory that God displayed there. As we suffer death and suffering in our own lives and prides, we start to see what the resurrection truly is. It takes a certain kind of death and a certain kind of suffering to strip us of all of the vanity that we so easily cling to. But once it’s gone, we don’t miss it at all. We realize how much the vanity and entertainment actually got in the way of God instead of leading us to Him.
This is why I’m against established religion, by the way. So many times you don’t even need to bring a Bible to church. It is all on the screen, it is all in the notes, and it is altogether unnecessary. Our worship songs are more to catch the attention of people so that they might be able to bear sitting for half an hour, and the messages are littered with forms of entertainment like jokes, videos, and emotional stories. What happened to the glory of God? What happened to the captivating glory that caused for all of Israel to fall on their faces and cry out, “The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God!”?
We have missed it because we are pampered. We are taught that suffering isn’t needed. We are taught a baby food Christianity that goes nowhere. We are taught to be tolerant, and maybe that is why people scoff and laugh at the Bible. “It says that if someone blasphemes the name of God that we should stone them! Who’s first?” “It says that homosexuality is a sin, but then says that adultery is a worse sin. Maybe you Christians who commit adultery ought to kill yourselves instead of gay bashing!” Atheists, homosexuals, scientists, teachers, philosophers, and society and culture everywhere are taking the Bible and using it as a tool to mock and proclaim that we are all narrow minded bigots.
If you look at history, you’ll know that 10 years before the Nazis systematically exterminated the Jews, there were cartoons and other forms of media that mocked them and gave way for people to think that they were lesser. They were doing god a service for killing them. You mark my words, because we have played games with the holy things of God, we will also be killed.
The glory of God is not something to tamper with. This is an introduction, and I wish to go a little deeper within the weeks ahead.