It’s hard to keep track there’s so many new smug-and-sassy mainstream books out there that wholesale rip on the God of the Bible.

 

In a recent Sunday New York Times review of David Plotz’ 322-pg. Hebrew Bible analysis as a real Jew, “Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible,” we’re told the author “struggles with the meanness, brutality and caprice of the Creator, shaking his fists at the sky in the noblest tradition of his people (See Abraham haggling with Yahweh over the fate of Sodom): ‘What kind of insecure and cruel God murders children so that his followers will obey him, and will tell stories about him?’ he writes of the 10th plague of Exodus. ‘This is the behavior of a serial killer.’ ”

 

The article concludes with the summary: “In the end, though, the book is made by the spirit of the writer, who on page after page struggles with the divine, or the Bible’s picture of the divine, even if it leaves him ‘brokenhearted about God.’ ‘After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements, the ruthless vengeance for minor sins (or no sin at all) and all that smiting . . . I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if he existed, was awful, cruel and capricious,’ he writes. ‘He gives moments of beauty—sublime beauty and grace!—but taken as a whole, he is no God I want to obey, and no God I can love.’ ”

 

How convenient for Plotz that he gets to do his spouting off at God in today’s Age of Grace where there is no earthly retribution. If Plotz were alive at the time of his ancestors in Leviticus, he’d surely lay hold of God’s promise that “if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments . . . I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes . . .”

 

Per Deuteronomy 28, The LORD could have smite Plotz “with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. . . with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.”

 

*****

 

In Leviticus 26, God says, “You keep my covenant, I’ll bless you; you don’t and there are going to be these cycles of chastisement that I’m gonna put on you and there are five courses.” He’s telling them it’s going to come.

 

Later, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses says in Deuteronomy 28, “Okay, you keep the covenant you get the blessing; you don’t you get the curses,” and he proceeds to list all the curses, using 53 verses to recite again for Israel the five courses of judgment.

 

Jordan explains, “In Leviticus, the courses are neatly identified but in Deuteronomy they’re just all wangled together, and the reason for that is he’s got 40 years of history that proves Israel isn’t going to keep them.

 

“In Leviticus, you don’t have much history with Israel’s practice yet. When you get to Deuteronomy, though, you’ve seen 40 years of their absolute failure. Now they’re going to go into the land and what he does is make the point that is doctrinally made in Leviticus but in Deuteronomy he does it more historically. He says, ‘You know, this is what God says and look at you guys. What’s happened to you is you’ve lived up to all of his low expectations.’

 

“You’ve heard the song that goes, ‘I got friends in low places’? Well, Israel did that. They got right down to where God said they were going to get. And so in Deuteronomy 28, He mixes all the courses up and the reason for that is, every time God put one of those courses of chastisement on Israel, when the next one came He didn’t take the first one away.

 

“They weren’t consecutive; they were concurrent. He put one on, and if they didn’t respond, he put the next one on it. They still had to keep that first one and He put the next one on (top of it). Then if they didn’t respond, He added the third. They kind of piled up so when the third one was there, they were experiencing all four of them at one time. Finally the fifth one was deportation and captivity. So you have them all mixed up in Chapter 28.”

 

*****

 

From God’s earliest dealings with Israel, when He established the nation and gave them the law covenant through Moses, He demonstrated He was going to have to deal with Israel on a different basis than the Mosaic Covenant or, like Jordan says,  “If you broke one of the commandments, what were they to do to you? They were all going to be dead, folks! You break the commandment, you die.

 

“Did you ever wonder why they didn’t all die? On what basis could God deal with them and let them get off? Does He violate the law? Does He just go, ‘Oh, well, it doesn’t really make any difference.’

 

“No, God, looking at it, they deserved to die; they should have died. But God said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to kill them because I’ve got another way of dealing with them. I can deal with them on the basis of this other agreement.’


“Exodus 32 is a fascinating passage because what you learn is the Mosaic Covenant is not God’s only contract with Israel.  There’s another one that underlies everything.”

 

*****

 

Jordan continues, “What’s Israel doing on the ground when Moses is up on the mountain and stays there 40 days? It’s always terribly humorous to me that when somebody gets caught doing something wrong, you know what they say? ‘I didn’t do it!’

 

 “It says Aaron fashioned (the golden calf) with a graving tool. Verse 24, when Moses has caught him, he explains, ‘I said they gave it to me, I threw it in the fire and it just came out a calf.’ That’s great, isn’t it! ‘I didn’t do a thing, man! I just threw it in and Poof! it came out!’

 

“That’s so typical of human nature. You deal with people for very long and you find out, ‘I didn’t do anything; it just happened.’ And he sat there and worked and fashioned and gravened it. And then they built an altar before it and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord Jehovah,’ and they rose up early and offered burnt offerings.

 

“They take the gods of Egypt and they take Jehovah and amalgamate them together and they have a form of godliness, a form of super-spirituality there in the valley. And they mix—they’re developing this vain religious system that’s corrupted them and it’s not godliness; it’s god-lessness.

 

“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Get thee down for—notice this next expression—THY people which thou brought out of Egypt.’ The Lord’s going to disown them. What did He tell Pharaoh? ‘Moses, go down there are tell pharaoh, Let MY people go!’

 

“It’s not that anymore! God says, ‘They’re yours Moses; they’re kin to you.’ You know what Israel’s done? They’ve gone over there and they took Egypt’s gods and they mixed them with their God Jehovah, and they demonstrated they weren’t any better than those Gentiles out there. They’re just as spiritually blind, just as spiritually dead, just as spiritually deceived as the Gentiles in Egypt were.

 

“God didn’t bring them out because there was anything special in them. They had absolutely no spiritual fitness at all to serve God and they demonstrated that. They manifested openly their own spiritual unfitness to be kings and priests unto God.

 

“I love the way He says that—‘Thy people which thou brought out of Egypt.’ They’re obviously not God’s people by nature. And they had turned aside quickly out of the way. That’s like that passage in I Timothy where Paul says, ‘From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.’

 

“When you swerve you turn aside quickly. God sought to educate Moses in their need for His grace. They rejected it. They’d done exactly what Paul says about the Galatians— ‘I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.’ They’re not any different than anybody else out there in their own abilities.”

 

*****

 

As Exodus 32:9-11 goes on to report, “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
[10] Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
[11] And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?”

 

Jordan explains, “The Lord says to Moses, ‘I’ll just wipe them out and get rid of them and I’ll use you Moses; we’ll start over.’ But Moses throws it right back at the Lord.

 

“He says, ‘Now, wait a minute, Lord, that’s YOUR people which THOU broughtest out of the land of Egypt!’ Now, Moses never says one time, ‘Lord, you don’t have a right to destroy them,’ because Moses is holding in His hand the legal contract that gave God the right to destroy them.

 

“Moses says, ‘Wait a minute, Lord, you had a deal with them before this, and they’re so dumb and stupid and unfit to deal with you that they made a bone-headed agreement, but you know better. You already knew!’

 

“You see, Moses, he’s got it. The Lord is educating Moses and what He’s making Moses come to realize is they’re putting God between a rock and a hard place so that Moses sees, ‘I’ve got another way of dealing with these people besides that contract over there, and I better have or they’re toast,’ and he says, ‘Lord, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’

 

“Moses is saying, ‘Forget what these dumb bunnies over here said—they’re too stupid to know what to do. They can’t do it anyway. Just remember what YOU said.’ What’s Moses pleading? He’s not saying, ‘Boy they can perform!’ He’s saying, ‘Lord, I know you—you already knew they were a bunch of nitwits because you already said you had to do it for them at the very beginning of Israel’s history.’ ”

 

*****

 

In Exodus 33, it says “Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
[8] And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
[9] And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.”

 

Jordan explains, “Moses knew he better get God outside of Israel’s camp before God wiped them out. He’s going to put the tabernacle outside over there. When you study this back in Exodus, Israel, all through her history from this point on, really carried two tabernacles with them.

 

“One was the tabernacle in which Jehovah and the ‘shikinah glory’ of God dwelt, and the other was a false religion’s tabernacle that goes all the way back—that they keep. They never completely got rid of it. You see it show it up with Amos over there with today’s so-called Star of David—the tabernacle of Moloch and the star and all that stuff.

 

“They had this stuff competing and it’s a sad thing, but it’s a glorious thing to set in relief the grace of God providing for them. The Lord spoke unto Moses face-to-face and He begins to communicate with Moses in front of all the people so they know clearly that he’s God’s spokesperson.

 

“In verse 14, the Lord’s talking to Moses: ‘Mo, I’ll go with YOU!’ and Moses says, ‘Whoa, wait a minute! I wasn’t wanting you to just go with me! It’s the people too! How am I gonna know that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight?! Go with US!’ You see that? Moses keeps saying, ‘It’s the Big Picture out here, Lord, not just me!’

 

“God responds, ‘I won’t just go with you but I’ll go with the nation.’ God is teaching Moses. He says, ‘I’ll take care of all that over there, but they got to learn they messed up. They got to learn what you’ve learned, which is that you’ve got to be dealt with by my grace. That I got to do it for you or it isn’t going to get done.’ ”