Wrestling with God

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Genesis 32:24
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Alexandre-Louis Leloir, 1865
Roger Quilliot Art Museum, Clermont-Ferrand, France

The name Israel means “Striving with God”. That’s what we do. We were given God’s laws as a guide so that we could master both technology and morality to recreate the Garden of Eden on earth and return to it without nuking ourselves in the process. It has always been our ambition to become like God, but we were never ready. Our first attempt was in the original Garden when we were tempted by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4

By eating it, we gained the unconscious drive to genocide. We were far too dangerous to be allowed to remain in the Garden, and so were kicked out.

Then hundreds of years later we developed rudimentary technology, and built the Tower of Babel so that we could again try to be like God. But God recognized that we knew just enough to be dangerous, and so confounded us:

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

Genesis 11:5

At last we are like God and have returned to the Garden of Eden. But no one can relax because there is constant fear of all the threats around us. In order to fulfill the New Covenant, Israel must enact equality. This will enable a grand compromise between Jews and Muslims on capitalism (not socialism) and equality (not apartheid). This will facilitate peace.

A similar compromise is needed between Jews and Christians in the US. Many Christians are fundamentalists and reject evolution, and believe that we haven’t progressed biologically since God created us thousands of years ago. But of course we have. The bible is among other things a breeding guide. We not only have more scientific and moral knowledge, we are also improving biologically (though perhaps in some ways devolving). We are the product of many generations of wrestling with God (if not billions of years). After all God gave us the Law in the first place to prohibit the abomination of child sacrifice resulting from careless breeding. Though it certainly did not stop the scourge:

They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire, burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind.

Jeremiah 19:5

As with many parts of the bible, the creation story was metaphorical and was never intended to be taken literally. But many Christians think that modern scientific theories are ‘vanity’. They are taught the world is irredeemably evil and so they store their treasures in heaven for when they arrive. They don’t realize that they have already become like God not just with science but also through evolution and breeding. Christians must accept science, and reject fundamentalism, and prepare the land for the return of the messiah. Then she won’t be completely appalled when she arrives. (In fact Christians reject science only as a ploy to make Christianity unappealing to Jews to stave off Judgment Day – we are after all, sinners and schemers.)

Whereas Jews are still constantly fighting and instigating strife. The goal of Zionism is world domination (by provoking the nations to fury against the Jews with censorship and then flogging the statistics of the resulting genocide to accrue power to Israel), and the socialists inflame hysteria about ‘nazis’ to terrify and oppress the masses. Both of these tactics are abominable:

And you shall become a horror, an object of scorn, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away.

Deuteronomy 28:37

The goal of Judaism isn’t domination but liberation. As with Christians, the appeal of these false doctrines is to gain temporary advantage to stave off the Judgment.

Christians reminded the Jews of the importance of forgiveness and redemption that is central to our faith. This suggests a grand compromise: science (not fundamentalism) and redemption (not domination). Everyone will accept that we’ve evolved physically, intellectually and morally to create the Kingdom of Heaven right here on Earth, and can now safely enter it:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36:26

We are finally free of the punishment of work. Now is the time to relax and retire in peace:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.”

Jeremiah 23:5

This will complete our first mission:

On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them.

Zechariah 12:8

Children of God

All that open the womb are mine, and every firstling of your cattle born a male, ox or sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.

Exodus 34:19
The Sacrifice of Isaac; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – 1729
Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine, Italy

Isaac was the first born Jew of the original covenant, and thus had to be offered to God. Fortunately he was redeemed by a ram (click the image to see the full version). God will provide for us, though we must trust him.

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Covenant of Peace

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:16
A rainbow rises from the mountains near the Dead Sea.
Rainbow over Israel
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Zionism: False Prophecy

Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, declares the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name.

Jeremiah 27:15
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem – Rembrandt van Rijn – 1630
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

King Nebuchadnezzar had already plundered Israel’s treasures and sent many of the Jews into exile. Now they were threatening to conquer Jerusalem. Jeremiah urged the people to accept the yoke of Babylon:

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Down with the Kitarchy

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (King Solomon)
Jethro advising Moses
Jan van Bronchorst – 1659
Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The goal of both Judaism and Christianity is to be obedient not to man or princes or kings or a government, but only to God.

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The Wages of Sin

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads:
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Psalm 22:6

The most powerful yet unrecognized psychological dynamic is the vicious cycle of sin, scorn and denial. It can start in childhood with a small but embarrassing mistake, whether unintentional or premeditated. The offender is then subjected to painful (if mild) scorn by others. The result can be denial – pretend the embarrassing incident never happened. All traces of it are blotted from memory. If people show scorn on their face when you pass, look again – it is gone. Perhaps it was just in your head? All is well.

Jesus, King of the Jews – Danish – 1613
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Sins of the Fathers

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.

2 Samuel 6:16
The arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem by a singing and dancing King David – Van Lint – 1650

David’s wife Michal knew that her father, King Saul, who was denied the honor of bringing the Ark into its everlasting home in Jerusalem, would never have conducted himself with such vulgarity. And perhaps she knew that this celebration was premature, and that David was susceptible to the same dark forces that doomed her father.

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