It’s New Years eve, a time of reflection but also a time of looking toward future application of newly acquired learnings. My 2014 goal is to be open and impactful.
For me, the spiritual learnings of the past year have been huge. Partially due to immediate observations made of well-meaning people within the religious community, some overly occupied with partisan politics.
As well, just a few days ago, I began a new cycle in my read through scripture, thus many of my thoughts are now centered around Genesis. We are a broken people, “every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” (Gen. 8:21b).
So, if people are that broken, I must become suspect as to our big picture interpretation of scripture. As well, Moses’ record of ancient history was handed down orally for centuries (Tanakh). However, this is not meant as a challenge to the literalist, but a personal expression of the mystery behind these ancient writings, still so representative of contemporary man-kind. As well, the beautiful and prophetic revelations of the coming Messiah tucked away from the very beginnings of these sacred Hebrew writings and the parallels with what now seems to be occurring on this small globe are convincing. To me all these things add reliability to the concept of God-breathed.
To disarm those with whom I am most aligned relationally, some overly protective of impending heresies, the Old Testament religious requirements and prophecies of the Messiah so align with Jesus, that it seems impossible for me that someone would miss Jesus as the Christ. For those just offended by that statement, I would encourage that they too remain open.
The thing that seems to have been missed by so many, is God’s covenant to all people…all, being the descendants of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Again, if we take the history of Moses as being in anyway accurate (not my argument), all those prior to the flood were dead, with only these three sons germane to our discussion. “Then God said to Noah and to his sons, ‘I now establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you…’”(Gen. 9:8). Those descendants include everyone, Jew, Gentile/Christian (latitude necessary here) and Muslim, assuming the three sons of Noah were the fathers of all mankind.
Later, as the Genesis episode unfolds, Noah overly imbibes of the fruit in his vineyards. He then curses Canaan (who’s offspring will later be wed to Hagar’s son Ishmael, so revered by Islam), while he blesses the God of Shem (Judaism). Pay close attention here (perhaps even reread the text), for the offspring of Japheth (eventually European Anglos ) are prophesied to “occupy the tents” (the property & and possessions) of Shem (Jewish descendants), and Canaan’s descendants would be their slaves.
My thoughts immediately go to the Holocaust, segregation days in America and now the ongoing controversy of Palestinian occupation, supported in part by America’s both Anglo and African. The conflict is even more exacerbated as some Arab nations refuse to reference Israel as a nation in the text books of their schools. Need I mention the generational memory of the Crusades, carried out against Muslims under the name of Christ, though far from His nature.
I hope I am not reading too much into the scriptures, nor sounding defensive any particular religion,just trying to be open to the challenges of a pluralistic community with which I am called to engage, considering current events and the political tension in America, particularly among Christians.
To me, though less than skilled or scholarly, these scriptures more than adequately communicate spiritual cause for both the growing favor toward Muslims and the residing fear among some populations both here and abroad.
The growing number of theophanies (a visible manifestation to humankind of God) among Muslims, as described to me first hand, on my recent trip to Turkey and Lebanon has also caused me pause as to what YHWH might be up to! Maybe this is just the beginning of a long and much needed transparent and trusting dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims? Again, remember the goal of 2014: open and impactful.
I believe that we are in a moment that will soon challenge Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as the One G-d of the ages, whom I still believe was Christ, reaches to all people groups and religions, many of whom seem to contribute a heightened degree of division more often than peaceful remedy?
Add to this, right-left politics in the name of justice, and religion becomes a dangerous game. Thankfully G-d sits above this universe, unchanging in his covenants with Creation and renowned for periodic shifts and transformations that challenge the foundations of all our faiths.