Remember that time when the head god Elyon divided up the seventy nations of the earth amongst the other Gods and assigned the descendants of Jacob to the god Yahweh?
“When Elyon (Most High) apportioned the nations,
when he divided humankind,
he fixed the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number of the gods;
Yahweh’s own portion was his people,
Jacob was his allotted share.”
~ Deuteronomy 32:8-9
This obviously isn’t something that good monotheistic Christians today believe, but it is in the Bible. That’s because the Bible is honest about humanity’s changing understanding of God over time.
This is underscored in Ex 6:3, when God is introduced to Moses as “Yahweh” but is then told that his ancestors never knew God by this name: “by my name Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them.”
This is because Abraham, Isaac & Jacob thought of God as “Elyon”, the God who reigned over the other, lesser gods of the pantheon. At one point, Yahweh was thought to be one of these lesser, desert dwelling gods as reflected in the Deuteronomy passage above.
But then, after Yahweh’s exploits in the Sinai wilderness, an argument develops that maybe Yahweh and Elyon are actually one and the same: “for Yahweh IS the great God (Elyon) the great King above all gods” the Psalmist tells us. Notice, however, that at this stage there still are “other gods” in existence, it’s just that Yahweh/Elyon are above them.
Over time, the Biblical understanding of God evolves even further to the point where there were no other gods, for example in Isaiah we have “I am Yahweh and there IS NO OTHER; apart from me there is no God.”
Evidently, not everyone in the Bible thought about God in the same way, and the biblical authors are honest about this. God may well be “the same yesterday, today and forever” but clearly we are not.
Just like us, people in the Bible had to wrestle and debate and discuss when it comes to thinking about God. That doesn’t mean the Bible is “wrong”, it just means that this a process and a journey.
Today, we can and should learn from the journeys of others, but we must still take our own steps along the path of understanding, guided by the Spirit of truth. This is what it means to be Christian.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” ~ John 16:12
If you want to know more, come and find us any given Sunday, 11am at Harbour.
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