Thursday, March 7, 2019

Original Commands

If you obey the commandments of the Ruler of the Universe that I am commanding you this day; by loving your God, walking in God's ways, and observing the commandments, decrees, and ordinances given, then you shall live...  -- Deuteronomy 30:15-20
By the time of Moses the religion of Judaism was rapidly establishing itself as a legalistic code that operated from a place of male power.  The Agricultural Revolution had already occurred across much of the Middle East before Moses. The tribes and kingdoms were all about the wretched business of slaughter and land acquisition.  Land and the possession of it was now the most highly valued material object.  The religions served as vassal servants in supporting the aggregation of wealth into the hands of a few. The Hebrew children had left Egypt landless so they were behind in the property accrual game, but the observations and experiences with the cultures around them were not lost to them: the way to power and land that will secure your future goes through the Warrior God who would fight for them. So much of the Old Testament tells of the consuming bloodshed.

Reading the passage from that vantage point has a vastly different feel to it than the one from the vantage point of love directed at us by a God who loves us, wants a relationship with us, and desires that we love each other.  The interesting part of this section of Deuteronomy is that it is such a hodge podge of both stances happening simultaneously.  If they love God and avoid getting lead astray they will get land and the prosperity that goes with it.  At what point do they then cross over the line from loving God to loving the land?  History reveals that they fall in love with the reward rather than with the One who provides.  We are still in that life draining quest even today.

If we read scripture carefully with a discerning eye, we will find through the words and the life of Jesus Christ that God doesn't care about the land except as a sustenance to all God's people.  God doesn't care about kings or empires, doesn't care about wealth, success, or prestige/honor.  What God does care about is us staying faithful to the upholding of community and interpersonal relationships based on wholeness, healing, cooperation, and collaboration for all.  That is at the core of the commandments, decrees, and ordinances. If we follow them to care for "the least of these" we will find life.

Questions for discussion, reflection, or journaling:
Prior to the Agricultural Revolution humanity survived and thrived in small bands of 7-15 or tribes up to 30 or so.  Their focus had to be on cooperative sharing and working together to find food and shelter for each member.  

  1. In your imagination, can you see that happening in your family, church, city?  What makes that difficult?
  2. What effect might this consciousness have on the homeless?
  3. How confident do you feel in your tribe's/community's ability to manage conflict in loving ways? (You can consider your tribe/community in whatever way you choose to define it.)
Dear Love of Our Lives, bless us in our endeavors, dreams, and visions to re-imagine our world more in keeping with your original intents.  Amen.

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