God is infinitely greater than we can picture or imagine, but two aspects of His personality deserve discussing:
1) He preceded Creation and, even if this - and every - universe ever stops operating, He will still be there vital and all-powerful, timeless and immortal.
2) He does not forget. There is no forgetting with HaShem: no fuzzy memories, no faded recall, no not-remembering. Whatever has happened is just as fresh, clear and crisp in His memory as anything that’s just happened. He Who maintains His Creation, somehow being everywhere, at all times, doesn’t just know what’s happening everywhere; He archives it for all eternity.
This means, among other things, that His memories of us – His children and servants – are no lesa immortal than He is.
The prophets teach us that He is transcendant - He is above everything, and largely inconceivable (even to us, human beings who live in the era that we’re now in, who exist in His “image”) – and also immanent: He sustains every particle and atom in this and every universe. And, obviously, there are no other gods – no real gods, no matter how many false gods His creatures might invent - than God. “There is no God besides Me.” (Isaiah 44:6)
So, obviously, even though we exist in His “image,” His thoughts are not our thoughts, “Neither are your ways My ways, sayeth HaShem; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your thoughts, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 45:8-9). But, through logical inference, even though we can barely even guess at how this might work, we can say this, definitely, certainly:
We live forever in the mind and thoughts of God.
A good friend, supporter and member of our First Covenant family quit last month. It was the last Covenant Connection, with its “mocking jabs at another religion,” that did it. Despite our friend’s professed love, otherwise, for the newsletter.
Oddly, we believed that we were counseling tolerance and kind behavior. And none of our Jewish readers, nor the more hard-line Noachides or Ivrim, seemed to notice this, let alone call it, as our friend did, “smug mocking.”
This was the problem. We wrote, “as ridiculous as” we find the doctrines of other religions to be – in this case, we were particularly negative about the pillar of Christian faith, “that people are ‘utterly depraved’ and doomed to ‘conscious torment for all eternity’ if they don’t” worship the right God – “we don’t, as a rule, mock [them].” Our friend replied to that, “Yeah, right.”
Let's turn this into a learning moment.
Most of us who love and worship HaShem, who are mostly Jewish people, probably, but also many Noachides (and ‘Ivrim’ – see our August and December 2016 issues) sincerely dislike other religions’ characterizations of Him. We regard God as infinitely holy, loving, and forgiving, as well as jealous of the faithfulness that’s due Him, and strong against evil generally.
Others characterize Him – in Christianity – as “an angry god” Who isn’t particularly nearby nor involved and Who isn’t particularly just (given the metaphysics that we discussed in our last issue). Islam characterizes Him, towards the end of its main Writing, the Qur’an, as a Jew-hater; as a being Who makes certain people do bad things and then punishes them for it; and shares power and independence with Satan. Both the Christian scripture, the “New Testament” or “New Covenant,” and the Qur’an (a portmanteau or blend of words including "collection," "guidance," "reading" or "recital," and "evidence," or "argument") are believed, by their respective followers, to fulfill and supplant the “mother religion,” Judaism.
We could go on, characterizing and criticizing both of these two great world religions, but that’s not the point here. To the contrary, the point that we were and are now trying to make is that, despite hating many aspects of our neighbors’ religions - or what their followers did to our ancestors, our religion, or what they may even sometimes try to do to us, as Jews, Ivrim and “Judaizing” Noachides - we shouldn’t stress what’s negative. We should focus on the positive.
Besides trying to correct the ugly misconceptions that others have of us – that our God isn’t awful, stupid and unjust but good and holy and immeasurably just, for instance, or that Jews seek to trick and despoil non-Jews, or that our “statutes” are pointless and burdensome – we should be explaining, when we can, the glory of those statutes, and our way, and our God.
As HaShem, by the hand of Moses, taught the Jewish people - for the benefit of the whole human race and for the human race to learn from – about the Torah with its statutes (its supposedly irrational, or non-rational, laws and rules):
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
By Michael Dallen