W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
GOD and NOT-GOD
Its Biblical Site
Deuteronomy 32, the last great speech of Moses, being last is yet first among many spiritual sites, showing important overall flags in the word of God. It draws attention to dire reality, flays imagination playing God or playing with gods of its own conception, and shows the subterranean forces at work in Israel. These are in no small part applicable to others, to drag them from their eyrie of God-avoidance techniques or plays, immerse them in confusion, and settle them like some old wreck, in shame, sunken in shallow waters. Israel is warned; but not they only. In one race, similar pathology can have not dissimilar payload in pain and tragedy!
This antepenultimate Chapter of the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, gives a sweet education in realism for those not too soundly sleeping to be awakened by the most vigorous of alarms. It is ignoring it which is costly.
The relevant phase, for this aspect now in mind, is found especially in Deuteronomy 32:15-21. On this occasion, it seems best to have these very words before us, based on the New King James Translation which in this case slightly modernises the language of the nearly always robust reliability of the AV..
17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God
18 Of the Rock
begot you, you are unmindful,
and have forgotten the God who fathered you.
In verses 11-14, you find the highly evocative, deeply stirring message concerning the Lord's intimate care of Israel when there was no illusory and invented god in its midst, mere excuse for the lust, the passion of mind, body or spirit, for innovation, particularisation of preference by the daring method of making a new god. What is it like ? it resembles an alienated kid who makes someone else his Dad, and flaunts the relationship till the point comes that it is a hideous misdemeanour, an obsessive attempt to humiliate, as well as a rejection of due authority and a twisting of loving care. This, in the case of Israel was not some movement from artificial bonds to natural things, but an imperious, impervious ruin of what is not only relationship with a father, but with THE FATHER of spirits and God of creation. This from times past was aborted in favour of what is simply NOT-GOD.
It was as unnatural as it is unnecessary. In fact, verses 15-16 shows that Israel had things so good that there came to them that peculiar punch and levity of heart, that astounding irresponsibility which wallows in unwisdom, like a spoiled adolescent or people or race, so long cared for, that uncare, and dis-coordination is almost too shocking to be given serious consideration. So they gamble, gambol; and It becomes an alliance with devils, mute and imaginary sources of superintending power, or indeed actual ones, where the demonic broods in the darkened minds, making them temporarily insusceptible to correction while their core rots. Instead now, of being born as on the wings of an eagle parent (Deuteronomy 32:11), with that tenderness which is still a cardinal part of the realm of nature, despite the curse (Romans 5, Genesis 3, Romans 8:17ff.), so that it might learn to fly, launched and collected, it is borne in the insurgencies of passions, becoming inveterate, till the foolish mind is seared and the spirit reduced as if from a building, to the realm of ashes and bits (cf. Romans 1:22-24).
Verse 17 gives a new and vital aspect, confirmed in verse 21. They sacrifice to demons, not God. The last two words simply are that translated. It is no longer God to whom they sacrifice; it is to not God. Indeed, in verse 21, it is even hyphenated. We might therefore render this with care as follows:
"They have provoked Me to jealousy with what is not-God;
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols,
But I will provoke them them to jealousy by a not-nation."
Two things appear from this. Firstly, the term 'jealousy' here is metaphorical, as indeed is the whole figure used so often in the Old Testament, especially in Ezekiel 16 extensively, and in 20, cresting at 20:30, and of course in the entirety of Hosea. In this imagery, Israel is like an unfaithful wife or profligate woman, the SPIRITUAL follies likened to adulteries or fornications, and the shame is like that of an adulteress. The imagery shows facile fascinations with young men, as she (Israel) ignoring chasteness, pursues them with an adulterous heart.
It is ludicrous to make the demonstrably figurative in what is not imagery. Israel is not a woman. That not only twists the point, but ignores it. What then is the purport of the imagery ? The "jealousy" in view means, in the symbolism, the SORT of concerned and involved anguish or horror which is felt by a faithful and loving husband when a keen, clean and intimate relationship becomes almost a matter of gross sport. It mocks the love, despises the tenderness, allows what is a wallowing without wisdom to replace the profundities of a devoted heart, minimises the former unity and maximises the massacre of grace and naturalness, something that was with Israel, founded on reality and history, goodness and faithfulness.
Translated, then, out of the words of the imagery, the 'jealousy' becomes 'profoundly grieved by reckless dissociation from truth with love, goodness with a long tenure, a thing too sacred for substitute." When God thus says He is a jealous God, the meaning without the imagery is that He is One 'profoundly grieved ...' and so on, as the extended translation to the actualities makes clear. His love surges, His faithfulness is real, His grief is massive, and since the result has come when it is GOD whom you two-time, thus His horror has a grave ground, for the movement is then towards that ultimate separation which is not merely a preference in the very face of His saving love, as in John 3:19. It is more than this. It is a passion not to see His lovely creation turned into what is virtually to become rubbish. When truth is concerned, mercy may enter and pay prodigiously; but justice remains, and reality is not in the end divorced. Such was the case for the nation of Israel, elaborate in its special features, incapable of confusion with simpler cases of unbelief becoming faith.
Thus, this aspect of the divine nature is lovely, for who is impressed by the hand-waving spouse who says, "Oh yes, so you think you could be better pleased with someone else ? I too have been having eye for one or two others, and it may be that a new dash and splash to my libido will be nice. Oh well, nice to have known you."
That is not only a superficial attitude to what has potential for great depth and a lovely wonder immersed in faithfulness and delightful in loyalty, but it is specious. It is as if the heart were either missing in the spiritual body, or else long so weak as to be virtually in cardiac arrest. It is an oblivion of the potentially lovely. It is good that the person be awakened before ditching, restored before driving off with a high sedative effect from some kind of spiritual alcohol, a substitute for God, an anodyne to a reality which should have been a delight! Then too, the bondage from vagabondage is not to be desired; and love seeks interception if yet there be a belated reception!
The next aspect we see in verse 21 is this. Putting it without imagery: Israel has moved God to indignation at their looseness of spirit and hardness of heart, their flamboyancy of mind and dilettante attitude to the power and peace, the wonder and the help of their God, who being the ACTUAL God, is their life support, creator and scope for redemption, that grace might once again abound (cf. Romans 5:20-21). They have made a choice. In the case in Deuteronomy 32, it has been negative.
Since all that CAN be worshipped is in two categories only, namely these: GOD and NOT-GOD as in verse 21 where the hyphens in the Hebrew accentuate the sublimity of the concept, and Israel had become drawn to worshipping NOT-GOD, a ludicrous abuse of spiritual integrity, what then ? Indeed, it is fitting and wise to worship ONLY GOD, not only because HE IS GOD, and the only One (Isaiah 44-46 as repeatedly, emphatically differentially and dramatically assured in these chapters), but because when you worship what is simply another part of creation, whether it be an object in nature or a concept of your own, then there are results. It comes to the point that you are debased, if not depraved, giving to what does not have the POWER or the PEACE or the LOVE in ultimacy which is and can be only God's, since only He has the knowledge with the devotion, power with total purity and the finalities foreknown with the present.
If it is undignified to be chastened by God, a point which seemed to have weight with Jonah at first, then what is it to be in the power of mere other creations, with no more understanding IN KIND, than yourself, worshipping your own ilk! It is almost infinitely horrible, unsublime, a guilty infestation with unreality, in spite of the wonder of the real! Moreover, the blatancy of it all grieves God, and this was the case with ancient Israel as there divinely reviewed. What of those caught in this naturalism ? it involves the giving of worship or key value to these vanities, to these not-God nothings in this realm.It amounts to presenting them with such an accolade as might turn their heads, if they were normal persons. It is just as occurs when many a head is turned to what the Bible often calls, 'vanity' or nothingness, what is worthy of nothing but emptiness, and when so used, of shame.
Worshipping NOT-GOD, how simply appalling! It almost freezes the blood in the veins, a scandalous substitute for reality (Romans 1:21-22). God pursues this aspect through Moses, following the initial reference to NOT GOD, in verse 17, and the point that with abominations they provoked Him to anger. That is, as just seen, the whole combination of imaginary gods, outlets for lust of mind, body or spirit or a combination, collectively constitute an abominable thing for humans to bow to, IN KIND. Folly in this way is magnified, error is turned into principle, and practice of so spiritually debauched a desire (I Timothy 1:8-11, Ezekiel 16:29-34), becomes revolting, like a dog returning to its vomit (as in II Peter 2:22).
God then in verse 18 declares this: Of the ROCK who begat you, you are unmindful. It is put in Isaiah 51:1 -
"Hearken to me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD:
look to the rock whence you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you are dug."
To them, God is like the ground, and they are the extract; and they forget their source. More than that, He is like ROCK, their source, security and reliance, and they become unstable and insecure in His absence. They do not even keep the indubitable and indefeasible fact of His fatherhood clear in mind, despite intensive faithfulness and extensive deliverances, validated concern and His creative act in their institution. They forget God and do not remember the results or the wonder of Him who leads; they grow spiritually numb, and habitués of evil, pursuing spiritual malpractice even in principle, as if one should cross a road, not only without looking for the traffic, but do so as a rigorous rule. It is as if they would also teach this procedure, DO NOT LOOK, JUST GO, to the young, embedding even them in their woes (II Kings 17:16-17).
Such things are spiritually illiterate (cf. Isaiah 29:9-12), irresponsible, and God is moved for them, to awaken them if they be yet time, in their spiritually pathological condition. That is the message in Deuteronomy.
These things being so, in Deuteronomy 32, God makes a parallel. Very well, they have sacrificed to, worshipped NOT-GOD, that abominable delusion and distortion, perversion of spirituality for which their entire natures are akin from production, but to which they are not forced, having from the outset liberty. Using this liberty, they found new spiritually conceived objects, arising like spirits in the mist, like witches in Macbeth, "new arrivals", new boy gods, not yet practised as it were, in the exquisite arts of deception, yes, gods newly come up, gods they did not know. These have neither background nor foreground nor reality, mere tokens of betrayal and wilful ignorance, objects in a procession of obsessions.
They have forgotten the most important relationship and the acme of reality. They will not, if you want another piece of imagery, even consider that they HAVE a blood pressure, far less find out what it is. Their lordly spiritual piques and preferences in the realm of God are a peril, far more serious, and that need far more concern than any blood pressure. That impedes life; this invokes misery that becomes eternal shame (Daniel 12). What you are, if you are not changed, is not masked by bluff; for the regenerated, it is changed in reality (John 3).
Therefore God will teach them something of the meaning of their actions, for in the end, He has a good prospect kept in mind for them (Deuteronomy 32:40ff., cf. Micah 7, Jeremiah 29:11). Thus there is to be a development.
They moved God, then, to anger with what is NOT-GOD. HE will move them to anger with what is NOT-A-NATION. Both of these phrases are hyphenated, so that the parallel is indisputable and complete. How does that proceed ? It is in this way. As they turned to vanity, emptiness, illusion, and not to reality, concern, care and Creator, worshipping NOT-GOD, so God will allow them to lose something of their own identity. Instead of being Israel, as if a wife for God, they will become a strange people, more like a residue, where the power that protected will be withdrawn, and the special relationship will wander away. It is not forever; but it is for long!
Thus a NOT-PEOPLE will become important in their lives just as NOT-GOD was featured in their new worship. Having given God the come-uppance, in a way far more than simple emotion, but rather at the very heart of their beings, they will find that He is assuming a somewhat similar posture towards them. It will work in this way. Some nation, not significant in spirituality, not noted for godliness, indeed of little account in the real values God has set forth for man; and just such a nation will now have transcendence over them. NOT-A-PEOPLE will have rule over them, a spiritually empty entity, providing them with an informative parallel, so that they might the better understand their own relationship with God. Emptiness instead of truth ? very well, now impotence for them, instead of victory, chastisement by unchaste hands, overlordship by a wanton nation, a nothing, a vulgarity!
They will be outraged by such lowness assaulting their former heights, and dumped into more realism, by seeing how outrageous is their posturing and their preference. Instead of being a special people, given care and power and mastery and miracles, so that there is no lack, they become a subjectible group, a humiliated nation, a disregarded residue, something with a past, but an inglorious present and a suspect future. They can be amazed, frazzled by the sight of such a thing, THAT ridiculous, or debased nation gaining power over THEM! How could such a thing be!
Indeed, this thing still applies to a degree notable enough in the Middle East, for in the last derogation of God, when Christ was crucified by Jerusalem authorities, they asked for more of the same.
nation like Iran -
oil and blatant in force-fed-religion,
characteristically throwing its weight about,
as if to determine who will be free and who not,
as Islam sought to do in the 8th century A.D.,
nearly by mere militancy taking over Europe
before the Battle of Tours in 732 -
|is daring to threaten this Israel!|
It menaces it with entire destruction, this called nation, granted ineffaceable gift of its land from God (as in Genesis 13 and 17:7-8), one select and unique (Deuteronomy 7:6-8), called of God not once, but twice, once from the first, and again, after its divorce from the Lord, a nation of singular history, with singular promises from the God who is bound to jot and tittle and His entitlements (Matthew 5:17-20), and does not bow to poetry when prose is in view, or to rebellion when reality is before Him. How ludicrous! followers of a false prophet who invaded Mecca by force and enforced his religion, is to deal roughly with a nation given its past and its future by God! Such however is the paradigm: things without the goodness of God, empty of reality, will exercise RULE. False prophets will ABOUND (Matthew 24:24), and as Israel enters her last lap before the coming of the Lord, they are also abounding in her present situation, for she is surrounded with such, new or old, their works and their ways, often massive in terrorism, loud in denunciation, such as Nasser in the past, Ahmadinejad in the present.
Yes, but this is DIVINELY INTENDED, and predicted. That is precisely what is to happen, is happening and comes to a conclusion as seen in the end of this very same Chapter of Deuteronomy, when God seeing their power gone (Deuteronomy 32:36-43, cf.Micah 7), decides to act decisively in a way incapable of misinterpretation. It is as in Zechariah 12, which has in much already been fulfilled in this our own generation, in1948,1967, 1973, 1991 (cf. SMR Ch. 9, with Appendix A).
Thus a NOT-NATION (in the religious, formal sense, one without God as a norm, a tradition without truth) will make Israel seem base, by having power playing on it. Certainly, in our own generation (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5) this ultimate phase is near. Yet with Israel not yet reaching the restoration of spirit exhibited as to come in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, there is this sense of disproportion. One nation is rich on oil, and mighty in word, delivering desperate and ill-directed dynamics of menace to Israel, appalling the world, helping terrorists and challenging as if it had some sustainable basis, whereas it merely tilts at God. It is largely involved through the false prophet, simply with what the Bible calls NOT-GOD, the other things that may be worshipped when the God of history, the Bible and prophecy is evacuated from man's mind, sun-dried or subjected to facial surgery, derogated in nature (cf. II Corinthians 10-11), as is Christ in the Koran*1.
With Israel turning AS A NATION, to whom Christ Jesus came (Mark 7:26-30, John 1:12), from this very One, God incarnate, fulfilling all the specifications of the prophetic identikit, it is and has been liable for much; and howwe pray it will soon have a redemption, free to all, brought home to them in national terms! Such is to be in very large measure, as both Zechariah 12 and Romans 11 show. In the biblical sense, then, it is meanwhile assailed by a NOT-NATION and it is stirring Israel very greatly in its alien unrealism and swagger. Yet it will endure, though many a towering and raging people will be judged (Matthews 25).
It is not only nations which can so suffer. Individuals too can find the emptiness of worshipping NOT-GOD when God is available. They too may discover the unnaturalness of it, when what is natural because according to the nature of things, God the Creator, is yielded to alien inventions, which then rule! It comes when man, the consequence of divine invention, and gracious intention, is given place, or his preferences, when it is God who at a spiritually knowable level, is disdained. It may be that the energy of disdain is not roused: it is a mere work of whim, creature of caprice, stirring of the dismissive hand, wallowing in unwisdom with a culture clutch numbing thought and rationality, as if one were being throttled and had no time to think deeply! Whichever way, however, it is done, swaggering indifference, or pretentious counter claim, drift or dynamic, the result at last is the same. You can repeat either a Maths test or a life test any number of times (if you are spared); but until you get the right answer, small profit is it!
There is a time to repent, and God has many promises. One of these is simply that if ANY PERSON does not repent, if rejection is the item on the resumé, concerning the God of creation and redemption, concerning the worship of Jesus Christ, God incarnate (Isaiah 48:15ff., Psalm 45, John 8:58, Colossians 1:15, John 5:19ff.): then there is one result. That person will perish.
The exact nature of this is not here of great concern. If one were a tyre, perishing would be tiresome, slow and abandoned, unpleasant to look at and a matter of a cast-away. Repent or perish (cf. Repent or Perish): these are options. It is the nature of the case that is of concern. It is a matter of grief and horror, unfitting because of an immaculate conception. Whatever conception is that ? It is the personal confusion of imagining that your thoughts can compete with the thoughts of God (despite Isaiah 55:8-12), that your personal production can become a challenge to that of your Creator, one of whose products, in part carefully made physically programmable and duly programmed, in one language, the same for all life, is found this entity: you! Gifted with spirit, enabled with mind, equipped with programmed works of wonder, capable of pro-creation over millenia, man stands or falls. Having fallen into deep iniquity already with NOT-GOD, he needs raising.
Your physical aspect wrought in the same language as is the rest of life, your information quota which has made you, given as part of an informed product capable of rationality, when spirit is added, each of our race stands. Though here for the disbelieving, it be immune to its own ground, emptily assigning all to nothing, source in stages of all (cf. SMR, TMR and this listing), yet standing or remaining fallen it will be. .
NOT-GOD is horrid; NOT-A-PEOPLE is too. It is emptiness as a foundation, history as dispensable, divorce as a norm, dynamism adrift, destiny missed, like one on the shore, watching plaintively, or painfully, or aggrieved, or some combination, the ship one was to be on, moving majestically away. Soon it will be swallowed up in the dim distance, sailing on the depths to which it belongs, while if you remained unmoved, and relied on yourself instead, you continue on the ageing pier, while the site for the heart ... is gone.
Despite its being unnecessary (Colossians 1:19ff.), it is grievous; and indeed, for that self-same reason, it is the more so. In retrospect, a narrow escape can be heartening, a ground for thankfulness; in prospect, child of delay, it can be illusion.
Instead of personal paralysis, rejoice rather that the ship is still at the pier, that God is still ready with mercy, that opportunity still regales the world, even if it delights to dismiss it. The world will go; more important is this: Who will come (John 6:37).
See on this, Dancers, Prancers ... Ch. 3, *1A.