Thursday, May 10, 2012

Many Gods in the Old Testament


This is really a deep subject, and if one looks at it from a different viewpoint than one grew up with it is really difficult to deal with.    A recurring thought is, what if the one God gets so angry with me that He strikes me dead; worse yet, what if, because of what I am writing, He bars me from heaven.  However, I take comfort in the fact that I am writing things that the Bible clearly teaches.  I am not concocting any fabulous theories.  Based on what the Bible teaches I am portraying only facts.  With that in mind, we continue.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. Genesis 19:24.    
 
Our Lord, no other gods compare with you. Exodus 15:11.  This is the definition given to the word gods, as it is used here, strength; as adjective mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity) Strong H410.

These verses very distinctly speak of more than one god.  Some of the newer translations rearrange Geneses 19:24 in such a way that the Lord is mentioned only once.  Was this change made because the translators could not grapple with the teaching that there is more than one God?  

When I first wrote about the Bible, I wrote that changes like this were being made to the Bible so that the Bible would agree with the translator's theology.  Some would rather change the Bible then change their own preset conclusions! 

Abraham … dwelt on the other side of the river in old times: and they served other gods. Joshua 24:2.  The word we notice here is gods and it is the same word that is used in Genesis chapter one, (about the Gods which created heaven and earth), and in many other incidents throughout the Old Testament.  The gods are written about in plural, and as was already mentioned, the word gods does not always refer to idols.

The Psalmist said, For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3.  Again, the word “gods” here, is the same word used in Genesis chapter one, speaking about a collective, creative group of gods.

O Israel, listen: Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone. Deut. 6:4 The Living Bible.   Many theologians have used Deut. 6:4 to prove, from the Bible, that there is only one God (Jehovah), whereas it explicitly states the exact opposite.  

What it actually says is that there are other Gods, but for Israel, there is to be only one God; His name is Jehovah.  Therefore, for all practical purposes, as far as praise, worship, and faith are concerned, for Muslims, for Jews and for The Church, it is not wrong to declare that there is only one God.  However, among those who have a need to be explicate to the Bible, it must be agreed, that the Bible distinctly teaches the existence of Gods other than Jehovah.

Wikipedia writes, Recognized scholars have formulated a substantial case for ancient Israel's practice of Monolatry. The book of Exodus, in fact none of “The Law”, denies the existence of other Gods. However, it does make a strong issue of the fact that the Jews are to follow and worship only Jehovah.  We recall, from a few posts ago, that monolatry means, to worship one.  This viewpoint recognizes the existence of a plurality of actual gods, but insists that there is only one God worthy of worship.  For the Christian Church that One is Jehovah. 

Why don't we try and let the Bible speak for itself, even if it means that we have to "think again" about the basics that we have learned in the church, in the mosque, or in the temple.