March 13, 2008

Revelation 15.1

Then I saw another great portent in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.


At 9:13 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Why plagues? "We had them in Egypt; they're traditional?"

Why in Egypt? When this came up in Torah study, it was downright puzzling. We would expect that one very limited plague, killing precisely one (1) Pharaoh, should have done the job just fine. Instead, we have God repeatedly "hardening Pharaoh's heart" and then thumping some more bystanders until matters came to a head.

And that's how I've come to understand the story, that God was upping the ante until the pot got big enough. Once the last Egyptian neighbor had held his garage sale and moved, the neighborhood didn't have much to offer anymore, and that part of the story had grown just long enough, so the Israelites were ready to leave. We might witness something similar at work, on a smaller scale, in our own career moves.

We are firmly attached to our own slavery. We don't know how to get loose. God's means may seem a little bit "Rube Goldberg", but they're guaranteed to work, and they've got Style. They are creative; they continue to surprise. Similar themes recur, but the working-out is always a new creation.

But "wrath"? Isn't God supposed to be Nice?

Look at history. Billions of people have lived out their lives in this world, and presumably found joy enough to keep it all worthwhile--but the events we call "history" have been outbreaks of what any fair observer would have to call "wrath." Or, in a movie, "spectacle." On a personal level, "tragedy."

We keep making the same mistakes; we keep on making those very same mistakes, and add some new ones of our own, from generation to generation--and so we see wrath; we shouldn't find this surprizing.

But here it says, that this wrath can be ended, that some day it even will be ended. Is it too soon?

At 7:27 a.m., Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

Thank you for "Rube Goldberg" -- I had to google it; and now rube Goldberg machine has entered my lexicon.

I have been blessed.

At 7:38 a.m., Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

Maybe life is a Rube Goldberg device -- and that's part of the point.

I'm reminded of a book which I've not read in years but which I heartily recommend. Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse. He distinguishes between a finite and an infinite game. A finite game has win conditions so you can know who won and when the game is over. A game becomes "infinite" when you stop trying to win, and start trying to extend the play -- like handicapping in golf, giving a chess opponent a do-over.

Carse then starts to look at playing the religion game in terms of "finite" and "infinite" games.


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