For the week of May 29, 1999 / 14 Sivan 5759
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 4:21-7:89
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 13:2-25
God Is Not the Force
We have seen God! (Shoftim / Judges 13:22).
In this story of the announcement of Samson's birth, God appears in human form, being referred to as a man (13:6), an angel (13:3), and God (13:22).
While God in his fullness is not a human being, this is one of the ways he relates to people in a personal way. In this story he appears and speaks to Manoah. In response to Manoah's prayer, God reappears, this time to both Manoah and his wife. Albeit that there are aspects of their interaction that are sensational, it occurs in the sphere of understandable personal interaction.
For many people today spirituality is an experience of impersonal forces, the seeking to be in control of and/or of being controlled by these forces. This can take the form of superstitions. A superstition is a belief that two or more unrelated actions or situations affect each other based on a perceived set of rules.
But biblically God is a personal being who consciously interacts with his creation. While we may not easily understand how he responds to human activity, he does so according to his nature and character.
Some understand God as the summation of life energy in the universe. Spirituality for them becomes the tapping into this life force. By understanding the principles of it, they think they can learn to control their lives and circumstances. But God is independent from the things he has made. He interacts with his creation. He is neither a part of it nor controlled by it nor by us for that matter.
God initiates, communicates, responds, loves. He is compassionate, kind, and good. He is just, merciful, and patient. He is Creator, Judge, and Savior. He is not some sort of cosmic computer, responding according to predetermined results that depend on whatever spiritual buttons we push.
Some people understand spirituality as serious myth. By that I mean they emotionally engage in notions of things beyond the material realm, while at the same time denying its reality. Spiritual truths for these people are kept in the realm of fiction. They appreciate notion of spirituality, while reserving the right to dismiss them whenever their implications begin to impose themselves on their lifestyle.
The Bible demonstrates that God is an objective reality. He made us in his image and not vice versa. He is not a product of our imaginations, which can be modified according to our wishes, like some character in a script.
God has invaded our world. He desires that we come to know him personally. But for us to do that we need to engage him on his terms, coming to know him for who he really is.
May the God of Israel be with you!
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