24. Yahweh

   
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24. YAHWEH

  1. Introduction
  2. Deity Among the Semites
  3. Moses
  4. Yahweh After Moses
  5. Samuel
  6. Elijah
  7. Amos and Hosea
  8. The First Isaiah
  9. Jeremiah
  10. The Second Isaiah

I. INTRODUCTION

1. Proposition. Men first have many gods, then a tribal deity, finally, the one and only God. The Jews, Hindus, and the Mesopotamians passed through just such an evolution of Deity.

“In conceiving of Deity, man first includes all gods, then subordinates all foreign gods to his tribal deity, and finally excludes all but the one God of final and supreme value. The Jews synthesized all gods into their more sublime concept of the Lord God of Israel. The Hindus likewise combined their multifarious deities into the one spirituality of the gods’ portrayed in the Rig-Veda, while the Mesopotamians reduced their gods to the more centralized concept of BelMarduk. These ideas of monotheism matured all over the world not long after the appearance of Machiventa Melchizedek at Salem in Palestine.” (1052.1) 96:0.1

2. Proposition. Melchizedek’s concept of Deity was different—he taught a God based on creative attributes.

“But the Melchizedek concept of Deity was unlike that of the evolutionary philosophy of inclusion, subordination, and exclusion; it was based exclusively on creative power and very soon influenced the highest deity concepts of Mesopotamia, India, and Egypt.” (1052.1) 96:0.1

II. DEITY AMONG THE SEMITES

1. Proposition. The Salem religion, based on Melchizedek’s covenant with Abraham, persisted among the Kenites and was later adopted by the Hebrews as modified by many influences.

“The Salem religion persisted among the Kenites in Palestine as their creed, and this religion as it was later adopted by the Hebrews was influenced, first, by Egyptian moral teachings; later by Babylonian theologic thought; and lastly, by Iranian conceptions of good and evil. Factually the Hebrew religion is predicated upon the covenant between Abraham and Machiventa Melchizedek, evolutionally it is the outgrowth of many unique situational circumstances, but culturally it has borrowed freely from the religion, morality, and philosophy of the entire Levant. It is through the Hebrew religion that much of the morality and religious thought of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Iran was transmitted to the Occidental peoples.” (1052.3) 96:0.3

2. Proposition. The evolution of Hebrew theology embraced five concepts of Deity.

See  (1052.5) 96:1.2

3. Proposition. At the time the Hebrews were at Sinai the volcano was active and they were greatly impressed by the phenomenon.

“Up to about 2000 B.C., Mount Sinai was intermittently active as a volcano, occasional eruptions occurring as late as the time of the sojourn of the Israelites in this region. The fire and smoke, together with the thunderous detonations associated with the eruptions of this volcanic mountain, all impressed and awed the Bedouins of the surrounding regions and caused them greatly to fear Yahweh. This spirit of Mount Horeb later became the god of the Hebrew Semites, and they eventually believed him to be supreme over all, other gods.”(1054.1) 96:1.11

4. Proposition. Many Canaanites believed in El Elyon, but the majority worshiped Yahweh.

“The Canaanites had long revered Yahweh, and although many of the Kenites believed more or less in El Elyon, the supergod of the Salem religion, a majority of the Canaanites held loosely to the worship of the old tribal deities.” (1054.2) 96:1.12

5. Proposition. The amazing feature of religious history is the continuous evolution of the God concept from the primitive Yahweh up to the high level of the Isaiahs.

“The most unique and amazing feature of the religious history of the Hebrews concerns this continuous evolution of the concept of Deity from the primitive god of Mount Horeb up through the teachings of their successive spiritual leaders to the high level of development depicted in the Deity doctrines of the Isaiahs, who proclaimed that magnificent concept of the loving and merciful Creator Father.”(1057.5) 96:4.9

6. Proposition. The Hebrews deanthropomorphized God without making him an abstraction of philosophy.

“The spiritual leaders of the Hebrews did what no others before them had ever succeeded in doing—they deanthropomorphized their God concept without converting it into an abstraction of Deity comprehensible only to philosophers. Even common people were able to regard the matured concept of Yahweh as a Father, if not of the individual, at least of the race.” (1062.1) 97:0.1

III. MOSES

1. Proposition. Moses gave the Hebrews the concept and ideal of a Supreme Creator.

“The beginning of the evolution of the Hebraic concepts and ideals of a Supreme Creator dates from the departure of the Semites from Egypt under that, great leader, teacher, and organizer, Moses. His mother was of the royal family of Egypt; his father was a Semitic liaison officer between the government and the Bedouin captives. Moses thus possessed qualities derived from superior racial sources; his ancestry was so highly blended that it is impossible to classify him in any one racial group. Had he not been of this mixed type, he would never have displayed that unusual versatility and adaptability which enabled him to manage the diversified horde which eventually became associated with those Bedouin Semites who fled from Egypt to the Arabian desert under his leadership.” (1055.4) 96:3.1

2. Proposition. The fact that the Hebrews believed in Yahweh explains why they tarried so long at Sinai—perfecting their religious ceremonials.

“The fact that Yahweh was the god of the fleeing Hebrews explains why they tarried so long before the holy mountain of Sinai, and why they there received the ten commandments which Moses promulgated in the name of Yahweh, the god of Horeb. During this lengthy sojourn before Sinai the religious ceremonials of the newly evolving Hebrew worship were further perfected.” (1056.6) 96:4.4

3. Proposition. Moses taught his people that Yahweh was a “jealous God.” He was building a national consciousness. But he also taught that “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

“Moses proclaimed that Yahweh was the Lord God of Israel, who had singled out the Hebrews as his chosen people; he was building a new nation, and he wisely nationalized his religious teachings, telling his followers that Yahweh was a hard taskmaster, a ‘jealous God.’ But none the less he sought to enlarge their concept of divinity when he taught them that Yahweh was the ‘God of the spirits of all flesh,’ and when he said, ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’” (1057.2) 96:4.6

4. Proposition. Moses feared to proclaim mercy, preferring to awe his people with the fear of the justice of God.

“Moses feared to proclaim the mercy of Yahweh, preferring to awe his people with the fear of the justice of God, saying: ‘The Lord your God is God of Gods, and Lord of Lords, a great God, a mighty and terrible God, who regards not man.’ Again he sought to control the turbulent clans when he declared that ‘your God kills when you disobey him; he heals and gives life when you obey him.’ But Moses taught these tribes that they would become the chosen people of God only on condition that they ‘kept all his commandments and obeyed all his statutes.’” (1058.4) 96:5.6

5. Proposition. Little of God’s mercy was taught the early Hebrews. God was the Almighty, a God of battles, glorious in power.

“Little of the mercy of God was taught the Hebrews during these early times. They learned of God as ‘the Almighty; the Lord is a man of war, God of battles, glorious in power, who dashes in pieces his enemies.’ ‘The Lord your God walks in the midst of the camp to deliver you.’ The Israelites thought of their God as one who loved them, but who also ‘hardened Pharaoh’s heart’ and ‘cursed their enemies.’”(1058.5) 96:5.7

IV. YAHWEH AFTER MOSES

1. Proposition. After the death of Moses the concept of God rapidly deteriorated. Joshua did his best, but the people went back to the older ideas of Yahweh.

“Upon the death of Moses his lofty concept of Yahweh rapidly deteriorated. Joshua and the leaders of Israel continued to harbor the Mosaic traditions of the all-wise, beneficent, and almighty God, but the common people rapidly reverted to the older desert idea of Yahweh. And this backward drift of the concept of Deity continued increasingly under the successive rule of the various tribal sheiks, the so-called Judges.” (1059.2) 96:6.1

2. Proposition. But even in these dark times, a prophet would arise to proclaim Moses’ concept of Yahweh.

“But even in this dark age, every now and then a solitary teacher would arise proclaiming the Mosaic concept of divinity: ‘You children of wickedness cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. ‘Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker?’ ‘Can you by searching find out God? Can you find out the Almighty to perfection? Behold, God is great and we know him not. Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out.’” (1059.5) 96:6.4

V. SAMUEL

1. Proposition. Samuel was a resolute teacher and sought to tarn all Israel back to the worship of the Yahweh of Mosaic times.

“Samuel sprang from a long line of the Salem teachers who had persisted in maintaining the truths of Melchizedek as a part of their worship forms. This teacher was a virile and resolute man. Only his great devotion, coupled with his extraordinary determination, enabled him to withstand the almost universal opposition which he encountered when he started out to turn all Israel back to the worship of the supreme Yahweh of Mosaic times.” (1062.4) 97:1.2

2. Proposition. Samuel proclaimed that God was changeless—not a God of fitful whims. “...he is not a man, that he should repent.”

“But the great contribution which Samuel made to the development of the concept of Deity was his ringing pronouncement that Yahweh was changeless, forever the same embodiment of unerring perfection and divinity. In these times Yahweh was conceived to be a fitful God of jealous whims, always regretting that he had done thus and so; but now, for the first time since the Hebrews sallied forth from Egypt, they heard these startling words, ‘The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent, for he is not a man, that he should repent.’” (1063.1) 97:1.4

3. Proposition. Samuel preached a God of sincerity—a covenant-keeping God. “You are great, O Lord God, for there is none like you...”

“And he preached anew the story of God’s sincerity, his covenant-keeping reliability. Said Samuel: ‘The Lord will not forsake his people.’ ‘He has made with us an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.’ And so, throughout all Palestine there sounded the call back to the worship of the supreme Yahweh. Ever this energetic teacher proclaimed, ‘You are great, O Lord God, for there is none like you, neither is there any God beside you.’” (1063.2) 97:1.5

4. Proposition. Samuel continued to grow in Deity concept. “Let us fall now into the hands of the Lord, for his mercies are great.”

“As the years passed, the grizzled old leader progressed in the understanding of God, for he declared: ‘The Lord is a God of knowledge, and actions are weighed by him. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth, showing mercy to the merciful, and with the upright man he will also be upright.’ Even here is the dawn of mercy, albeit it is limited to those who are merciful. Later he went one step further when, in their adversity, he exhorted his peoples ‘Let us fall now into the hands of the Lord, for his mercies are great.’ ‘There is no restraint upon the Lord to save many or few.’” (1063.5) 97:1.8

VI. ELIJAH

1. Proposition. Elijah restored the God concept of Samuel. He carried forward his reforms in spite of opposition by an idolatrous monarch.

“Elijah restored to the northern kingdom a concept of God comparable with that held in the days of Samuel. Elijah had little opportunity to present an advanced concept of God; he was kept busy, as Samuel had been before him, overthrowing the altars of Baal and demolishing the idols of false gods. And he carried forward his reforms in the face of the opposition of an idolatrous monarch; his task was even more gigantic and difficult than that which Samuel had faced.” (1064.2) 97:2.1

2. Proposition. The controversy between the followers of Yahweh and Baal was a socioeconomic clash of ideologies rather than a religious difference.

“The long-drawn-out controversy between the believers in Yahweh and the followers of Baal was a socioeconomic clash of ideologies rather than a difference in religious beliefs.” (1064.5) 97:3.1

3. Proposition. The peoples of Palestine differed in their attitude toward private ownership of land. The Yahwehites regarded land as belonging to the clam

“The inhabitants of Palestine differed in their attitude toward private ownership of land. The southern or wandering Arabian tribes (the Yahwehites) looked upon land as an inalienable—as a gift of Deity to the clan. They held that land could not be sold or mortgaged. ‘Yahweh spoke, saying, “The land shall not be sold, for the land is mine.”’” (1064.6) 97:3.2

4. Proposition. The Baalites freely bought and sold land. The cult was concerned with land—its ownership and fertility.

“The northern and more settled Canaanites (the Baalites) freely bought, sold, and mortgaged their lands. The word Baal means owner. The Baal cult was founded on two major doctrines: First, the validation of property exchange, contracts, and covenants—the right to buy and sell land. Second, Baal was supposed to send rain—he was a god of fertility of the soil. Good crops depended on the favor of Baal. The cult was largely concerned with land, its ownership and fertility.” (1064.7) 97:3.3

VII. AMOS AND HOSEA

1. Proposition. It was a great step in the transition of a tribal god demanding sacrifices to a God who would punish crime among his own followers—but such was the God proclaimed by Amos.

“A great step in the transition of the tribal god—the god who had so long been served with sacrifices and ceremonies, the Yahweh of the earlier Hebrews—to a God who would punish crime and immorality among even his own people, was taken by Amos, who appeared from among the southern hills to denounce the criminality, drunkenness, oppression, and immorality of the northern tribes. Not since the times of Moses had such ringing truths been proclaimed in Palestine.” (1065.4) 97:4.1

2. Proposition. Amos proclaimed the inexorable justice of Yahweh—”Surely I will never forget your works.”

“Said Amos: ‘He who formed the mountains and created the wind, seek him who formed the seven stars and Orion, who turns the shadow of death into the morning and makes the day dark as night.’ And in denouncing his half-religious, timeserving, and sometimes immoral fellows, he sought to portray the inexorable justice of an unchanging Yahweh when he said of the evildoers: ‘Though they dig into hell, thence shall I take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.’ ‘And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I direct the sword of justice, and it shall slay them.’ Amos further startled his hearers when, pointing a reproving and accusing finger at them, he declared in the name of Yahweh: ‘Surely I will never forget any of your works.’ ‘And I will sift the house of Israel among all nations as wheat is sifted in a sieve.’” (1065.6) 97:4.3

3. Proposition. Hosea followed Amos with the doctrine of a universal God of love—forgiveness through repentance, not by sacrifice—a gospel of loving-kindness and tender mercy.

    “Hosea followed Amos and his doctrine of a universal God of justice by the resurrection of the Mosaic concept of a God of love. Hosea preached forgiveness through repentance, not by sacrifice. He proclaimed a gospel of loving-kindness and divine mercy, saying: ‘I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and judgment and in loving-kindness and in mercies. I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness.’ ‘I will love them freely, for my anger is turned away.’” (1066.2) 97:4.5

VIII. THE FIRST ISAIAH

1. Proposition. In these times, some threatened punishment for personal sins and for national crime.

“These were the times when some were proclaiming threatenings of punishment against personal sins and national crime among the northern clans while others predicted calamity in retribution for the transgressions of the southern kingdom. It was in the wake of this arousal of conscience and consciousness in the Hebrew nations that the first Isaiah made his appearance.” (1066.5) 97:5.1

2. Proposition. This Isaiah said: “Arise and shine, for your light has come...” “In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them.”

“Speaking to the fear-ridden and soul-hungry Hebrews, this prophet said: ‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.’ ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.’ ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and has covered me with his robe of righteousness.’ ‘In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them.’” (1066.7) 97:5.3

IX. JEREMIAH

1. Proposition. While teachers continued to expound the gospel of Isaiah, Jeremiah took the bold step of proclaiming the internationalization of Yahweh.  

“While several teachers continued to expound the gospel of Isaiah, it remained for Jeremiah to take the next bold step in the internationalization of Yahweh, God of the Hebrews.” (1067.4) 97:6.1

2. Proposition. Jeremiah proclaimed the just and loving God of Isaiah. “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love...” “For he does not afflict willingly the children of men.”

“Jeremiah also preached of the just and loving God described by Isaiah, declaring: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you.’ ‘For he does not afflict willingly the children of men.’” (1067.6) 97:6.3

X. THE SECOND ISAIAH

1. Proposition. No prophet from Machiventa to Jesus attained a higher concept of God than Isaiah the second presented to the Hebrews.

“No prophet or religious teacher from Machiventa to the time of Jesus attained the high concept of God that Isaiah the second proclaimed during these days of the captivity. It was no small, anthropomorphic, man-made God that this spiritual leader proclaimed. ‘Behold he takes up the isles as a very little thing.’ ‘And as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (1068.5) 97:7.5

2. Proposition. Isaiah proclaimed a Universal Creator and no more beautiful pronouncements about the heavenly Father have ever been made.

“This Isaiah conducted a far-flung propaganda of the gospel of the enlarging concept of a supreme Yahweh. He vied with Moses in the eloquence with which he portrayed the Lord God of Israel as the Universal Creator. He was poetic in his portrayal of the infinite attributes of the Universal Father. No more beautiful pronouncements about the heavenly Father have ever been made.” (1069.4) 97:7.9

3. Proposition. This daring teacher taught that man was closely related to God. “Every one who is called by name I have created for my glory ...” “I...am he who blots out their transgressions for my own sake...”

“This daring teacher proclaimed that man was very closely related to God, saying: ‘Every one who is called by my name I have created for my glory, and they shall show forth my praise. I, even I, am he who blots out their transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember their sins.’” (1069.5) 97:7.10

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