Not long ago I was in a conversation with someone who said to me, “I don’t believe the Bible.” The comment began a conversation that could easily have gone on for quite some time and it is representative of conversations that happen all the time. I countered with a question asking, “Do you believe in love and acceptance of all people?”
“Do you believe that God brings order out of chaos in our lives?”
So I told him that indeed, in my understanding of Scripture, he believed very strongly in the Bible’s message.
The Hebrew Scriptures, time and time again, strive to tell the story of order from the chaos. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”
Rather than an expression of the facts about what this primordial soup looked like, it is an expression of the point that before humankind became aware of the sacred essence in, or of, the world, the world was a chaotic place. Light, figuratively did not exist. Through a sense of becoming enlightened with knowledge that some things are special, that which we worship, or God as some people say, brought order, or light, and it became clear that there was a difference between right and wrong, ‘light’ and ‘dark’.
There are two stories of discovery in the opening chapters of Genesis, (I would rather call them discovery stories than creation stories), that are stories of humankind’s discovery of the sacred essence. The succeeding books of the Hebrew’s sacred texts become stories of moving in and out of the “order of things” as following the way of the sacred.
Noah – a story of leaving the chaotic world behind and seeking a better way, with the world itself being offered the opportunity to ‘start over’ under a new direction. It is at the same time a story designed or written to explain the presence sea creature’s fossilized remains in the dessert and at high altitudes by people who had no way of understanding the shifting of tectonic plates. The point though is that the Sacred presence is with us and gives us the opportunity to begin anew.
Moses – and the story of the Exodus establishes the premise that the people are led from slavery and oppression by a God who cares deeply for them and for their survival. As they are wandering in the wilderness, figuratively or historically it doesn’t matter, Moses needs to establish order and gives to the people ten rules to live by (Commandments) gleaned from his awareness of the sacred. These commandments are what provide a pathway for togetherness. Violate the command and you become separated (to sin is to become separated) from your neighbor.
The rest of the story is a flow in and out of favor with the sacred. When abiding by and with the sacred essence life is good, when they deny the sacred they become separated. Eventually the “rule keepers” get so caught up in their self-importance that a new deliverer is inspired to lead them out of chaos again.
Jesus serves as the saving one and offers the people the freedom to connect directly with the one they worship. (to be continued)