Going the Long Way Around ~ BitterSweetLife

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Going the Long Way Around

Desert path

The Israelites didn’t have SUVs, but they could have made the trip to the promised land in four to six weeks. Instead, God left them to cool their heels in the desert for forty years until they learned important moral lessons.

The Israelites were so chicken-livered and mistrustful that they frantically tried to stock up on the edible Jesus merchandise of their day—manna from heaven—while threatening to lynch their leaders—Moses and Aaron—over every minor emergency. (Being thirsty in a desert constitutes a minor emergency when your trail guide is Yahweh, who can part seas and convert granite to bubbling H20.)

When these antics didn’t “work,” the people cued up a national whining campaign with the idea of justifying their incredibly girly faith. With the tagline of, “Just look at all these sand burrs!” it’s no wonder that God was not impressed—thus a God/nation rift occurred. Quickly, a couple things become obvious.

  1. These people were idiots.
  2. These people were a lot like us.

The post-Exodus Israel seemed to have maintained a stubborn reluctance to actually encounter God themselves (he was too scary), shoving this chore off on Moses—who was consequently blessed, consoled, and protected personally by Yahweh. When the nation of Israel realized that not only had God freed them from slavery in Egypt, but he also intended to lead them to Canaan, they immediately got to work trying to make him more manageable, since he was set on sticking around.

Via an idol-making session and various rallies and protests (“Give us sloppy Joes with onions like we got in Egypt!"), Israel tried to compel God to stop being God and order his servant Moses to massage their bruised egos. God proved he wasn’t interested in collective bargaining by sending poisonous snakes and a killer angel to execute the most rebellious of the dissidents, and by spectacularly turning the tables on Moses’ would-be assassins.

Finally, in a master-stroke of recalcitrant timidity, Israel refused to enter the promised land when they stood on its borders.
God: “Cross the borders and take control of this second Eden I’m giving you. The cows will milk themselves and the bees will line up their hives for tasting sessions. There are cities with fully-furnished loft apartments waiting for you, and you’ll win glory by defeating the current residents, even though I’m guaranteeing your victory.”

Israel: "How do we know you're not just saying the fight is rigged?"

God: “That’s it. Forty years in the wilderness.”

I’ve been thinking that in some way or other, we have all been taking the long way around.

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Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife