Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Yahweh: Liberator not Tyrant

We may summarize the Good News of Jesus Christ by saying that Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and so leads us into fullness of life. In doing so, we make a fairly tight connection between Jesus Christ and truth, freedom, love, and life. Oddly enough, we find this sort of tight connection throughout the Bible.

Take, for example, the most important event between the call of Abraham and the birth of Jesus: the exodus of Israel from Egypt. In this event Yahweh reveals himself most clearly as liberator. He harkens to the cries of his oppressed people. He then frees them from the clutches of the most powerful government of that time. He does not do this by inciting his people to take matters into their own hands. He does this by showing that he himself is free in relation to Jupiter (false god of politics) and all his minions (including Pharaoh). As Moses tells the people pinned between the chariots of Egypt and the sea, “‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of [Yahweh], which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. [Yahweh] will fight for you, and you have only to be silent’” (Exodus 14:13-14, English Standard Version, here and following). Sure enough, Yahweh liberates his people from the control of Egypt without them having to lift even one weapon to assist him. 

Shortly thereafter, when Yahweh is about to give Moses the Ten Commandments, he describes himself in this way: “‘I am [Yahweh] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’” (Exodus 20:2). Yahweh then gives Moses the first commandment: “‘You shall have no other gods besides me’” (20:3). In other words, Yahweh assures Moses and the Israelites that he may speak to them credibly as lawgiver because he is the god who liberates rather than controls. In obedience to his commandments, they will find their freedom.

The Olympian gods stand in sharp contrast to Yahweh the liberator. They are the false gods of control, putting power—the ability to control—into the hands of those who serve them and enslaving the rest. For those committed to freedom, the gods of Olympus cannot speak credibly as lawgivers because their words lead to power for the few and bondage for the rest of us.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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