Nature of Reality, Will the Real YHWH Please Step Forward 7) is YHWH impassible?
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In YHWH Impassible?
The word impassible is the antithesis of impassionate, full of emotion. If YHWH is impassible, then his Word, the Bible, cannot show he has emotions, and, if it did so, it would be false.
You need to make a decision, are you going to believe the Bible, or not?
Where your theology contradicts the plane truth of scripture, which will you believe?
The Bible tells us he created humans to be like him (Genesis 1:27 YHWH created man in his own image, in the image of YHWH created he him…).
Once more all you skeptical Christians out there, the Bible does not define this. It does not tell us that we are like him only in the fact that we can reason, animals can also reason, albeit, not as well or as much as humans, or even in the same manner or kind of reasoning, but they can, however they are limited to small abstractions of perceptual items.
Animals can learn enough signs using language to be given mildly complex problems to solve and then solve the problem. They cannot use conceptual thought to assign a name to an object which is not perceived, let’s say, a Klingon, (used because so many know what the conception is through Star Trek).
However, using, let’s say, the first rule of logic, A=A and abstractions from that are something several animals have shown they can do.
Dogs can be taught to retrieve a red ball either by using the word “red” or by spelling the word. They learn that the word “red” and the sequence of letters which sound like other words to them, both mean the ball that is red. All words are metaphors for other things (except “word” itself). The dog understands the verbal commands relate to a specific perceptual item.
This can also be done by naming the specific item. This has been done with a large number of stuffed animals the dog learned the name of one at a time. The dog understands A=A, and the replacements, “Red Ball = a specific ball that we understand to be red.
Koko the gorilla learned sign language (not conceptual language) and abstracted simple sentences to ask the keeper questions about things she had perceived. Read the materials, she (Koko) learned more than 1000 signs.
The female keeper had removed her wedding ring when she went in to talk with Koko. Koko had learned the sign for bracelet, but not for ring. Koko signed, “Where is your finger bracelet?”
This is not in doubt. Animals can reason to some small degree, and there are lots of examples we could use. However, Koko had perceived that human wear items around body parts, and learned that there was a sign for them we attached the signal to (the American Sign Language sign for bracelet is done by making a large “C” using your index finger and thumb, put it over the opposite wrist).
There is no evidence that Koko could conceive that we use a different name for jewelry we wear on fingers. But the scientists, always eager for verification and funding, glossed over this fact and claimed they have proved their preconceived idea was true, that man is only different from animal by degree. They could have distinguished a ring from a bracelet then Koko would use the correct sign. But notice it is always a sign, never a concept.
The idea that man is only like God because man can also reason was a Middle Ages idea going back as I recall to Augustine, who depended on Plato’s concept of god being only a mind, and nothing else. Augustine reflected this concept from Plato in his writings and I have heard it from recent graduates from Bible Colleges such as Biola.
Then the only connection mankind could have would be reason, and so he justified his conceptions by painting god the way he wanted him to be, that being completely and totally unlike man except in pure thought.
The Bible simply says, without specification and in a broad sense: YHWH created man in his own image.
When we examine the scriptures we find YHWH expressing quite a few emotions, just like us.
YHWH Can Be Happy or Unhappy
Can people be happy or unhappy? Surely they can. So can YHWH.
The Bible fills in the picture even more, it tells us YHWH can be happy.
Forgive the sidebar here, but this is a derivative of a Norse word derived from “hap” or “happen” meaning “chance,” related to haphazard meaning a chance of risk, and hapless, or unfortunate, and happiness meaning good fortune. Happy means having good fortune, enjoying, or liking the current condition.
What the Bible says here, in English is, God saw everything he had made and it was very good, (pleasant or agreeable). Like any artisan he liked what he did. So, like us, he can be happy. This theme of YHWH being happy about things he did is repeated in Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25 all if which end with “and YHWH saw that it was good.”
But things can change over time and he can at a later time be unhappy. First Corinthians 10:5 says about the children of Israel “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” In Greek this would have read, “God was not pleased.”
We are like that, are we not? One moment we are happy and in another we are not happy. I don’t know a single (functional) person who this has not happened to.
Emotions tend to have two sides, good and bad. Additionally, you need to understand what the good one is to understand the deprivation of it as being negative. Evil is the deprivation of good. If nothing is good, then nothing is evil or bad.
It’s Your Decision
You need to decide if you are going to believe the Bible or not believe the Bible. This is true if you are a Christian or not. Do you think the Bible is true? If so, and you are a post reformation protestant, then are you or are you not going to stay with the primary theme that emerged from that, “sola scriptura” meaning, only the scripture?
If so, then the Bible, the Word of God repeatedly, clearly, simply tells us YHWH can be happy or unhappy, that is, content or satisfied with the circumstances or unsatisfied with the current circumstance. He saw what he had made and he declared it to be very good, he was content, or happy. YHWH shows he is, at various times, under various circumstances which change through time demonstrative, emotional, fervent, fervid, loving, impassioned, passional, passionate, vehement, angry, and so on, all antithetic (directly contradictory) to the term “impassible.”
Shall we look at another emotion, or passion of YHWH?
YHWH Can Be Angry
This emotion is unhappy taken farther, to the point of annoyance, and could be displeasure in certain circumstances, or hostility in others.
YHWH can be really angry (Num. 22:22 “But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”
The most interesting things here are the sequence of events in Numbers 22 and 23. King Balak wanted someone to curse Israel, and went to a prophet named Balaam and asked him to come to see the King. In Num. 22:12, 13, YHWH told Balaam not to go. In Numbers 22:18 again they came and again Balaam said God prohibited him from going. Then in Numbers 22:20 God changed his mind. It says: “That night God came to Balaam and said, ‘Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.’” Balaam was good with this, he was listening and obedient, according to the Bible anyway, then two verses later, when he did what YHWH said, and went with them. Vs.22 says “But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”
God changed his mind, told him to go, then was upset that he went. While I would speculate that God was angry with the situation, not that Balaam had gone when he told him to, either way, YHWH was perturbed. He opened the ass’ mouth so he could speak. That is what the Bible says. I told you animals could reason, because what it does not say is that YHWH put words in his mouth. The ass said (my paraphrase) ‘Hey, buddy, haven’t I served you well all these years? Do you think there might be a reason for me to walk off the path? Give me some love here.’
Then YHWH opened the eyes of the prophet so he could see the “Angel of YHWH” standing there with a big sword (realize at that time a “sword” is what we would call a really large knife, say, 12”-18” long). This is generally thought to be a theophany, that is, God appearing to man. Right then Balaam was the one who coined the phrase, “OMG!”
He was nice to his ass after that.
Text Without Context is Pretext
Numbers 22-23 are interesting chapters. In the later, Balaam, now friends with his ass, had the king build seven alters, he sacrifice animals, then asked YHWH for a message.
The King wanted a curse on Israel, Balaam gave Israel YHWH’s blessing, so the King, thinking as they did in that time period that different places had different gods (remember, Israel was the only monotheistic country at the time), changed mountains. “Let’s try over here” and off they went. Again a sacrifice (they thought they were buying the gods favor) and again a blessing. The King protested.
YHWH had already changed his mind and the King knew it. Balaam said twice, YHWH will not suffer me to go with you, and then he changed his mind and allowed him to go. This is sine qua non (sufficient reason) to believe YHWH changes his mind. But the prophet said, “not this time.”
[Num 23:18-20 NIV] Then he spoke his message: "Arise, Balak, and listen; hear me, son of Zippor. God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
There is a time when he will change his mind, some forty times throughout the Bible, and then a time he will not. Just like us.
Keep the verses in context or you are using a pretext to conform the Word of God to your will. If this is the Word of God, then this is backward. You conform your ideas to it, not vice versa. I don’t believe YHWH is happy with proof texting, nearly anything can be proved by that technique.
In First Samuel, again we see a textually similar segment where a prophet is giving a message that YHWH had changed his mind, but there is one verse that says he will not change on this point.
These are not contradictory concepts unless one of the two is an absolute, that is, one is always the case. Here, we see both are the case, and humans are just like that, are we not?
Saul had been anointed King of Israel in I Samuel 10:1, and then YHWH had had enough of his behavior. YHWH was conditioned by Saul’s disobedience. Specifically Saul had disobeyed YHWH, Samuel informed him that YHWH has rejected him as King (V. 23) Saul admitted his sin and asked forgiveness. He begged Samuel to change his mind:
[1Sa 15:26-29 NIV] But Samuel said to him, "I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!" As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors--to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind."
Remember the context, YHWH had just changed his mind based on Saul’s disobedience. YHWH had selected Saul to be the King, now he reverses this decision and takes the Kingdom from Saul. Changing Kings is a substantive change. Saul begged him to change it back so he could keep being King, but YHWH had enough of Saul’s insolence and was not going to change it back again. The last verse of this chapter and the first of the next are interesting in this light:
[1Sa 15:35 NIV] Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
[1Sa 16:1 NIV] The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."
Regret is a feeling of sorry and remorse for something you did.
YHWH picked Saul to be King over Israel, then changed his mind about Saul conditioned on Saul’s behavior, YHWH regretted his decision, and then YHWH rejected Saul, and took the Kingdom away from him, and at that point, when a man is begging him to change his mind again Samuel says, for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
YHWH is Angry Again
Do we see YHWH being angry elsewhere? Why, yes, we do. Do we see that elsewhere? (I only need to see it once to understand that it is true.) Yes, we do see it elsewhere.
Joshua 23:16, “If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you."
Judges 2:12, “They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD's anger.”
Jeremiah 7:20, “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place--on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land--and it will burn and not be quenched.”
Jeremiah 42:18 “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach; you will never see this place again.”
Do you think this is just YHWH in the Old Testament?
In Romans 9:20-22 we see anger and wrath again: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?”
So Paul addresses God’s wrath, a form of anger in the New Testament. Unlike the mummy I saw in Cairo, YHWH is not impassible (impassible means without motion).
In Revelation 14:9,-10 we find “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.”
Sounds mad to me? How about you? Does he sound angry to you?
Have you ever sounded angry? I have, just ask my kids.
Never mind, don’t ask my kids…
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist of the highest order, a reformed theologian who believed the traditionally Neo-Platonic god who could not be moved emotionally because he was considered impassable, that is, without emotion. His god was in total control of salvation actually giving out the faith (belief) which enabled salvation to those he had elected (chosen) to be saved before the foundation of the world.
If you doubt God can be angry, read Deuteronomy 32. Edwards did, and because verse 35 says: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Edwards wrote the speech and delivered it in 1741 titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is more or less a Calvinistic rant to threaten the people if they do not respond. Read it, it is online many places. To quote just one line (realizing he has done studies on spiders):
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.
Did you imagine a Calvinist to be kind or loving? Think again. The odd part is, this is Calvinism who whole 1) God is Angry, and 2) God has no emotions. A direct contradiction is an irrational idea because they are contradictory ideas and both cannot be right. It is one way or the other and cannot be both.
But that isn’t what the Bible says, is it? The Bible repeatedly tells us that God has emotions, that he is not impassible.
Realize also this is the beginning of Evangelicalism (John Westly, George Whitfield, and Johnathan Edwards were the three who started the movement in the English speaking world), but which, fortunately has moved away from the angry god theme.
Remember the second rule of logic, it applies here, The Law of Non-Contradiction, A ≠ Non-A, anger is not impassible, and the third rule, The Law of Excluded Middle: “A ν Non-A” it cannot be both ways. Yes, he can be angry, but this proves that theology is in error. God is impassioned, not impassible and these are antithetical terms, they can’t both be true in the same manner and at the same time of the same person.
What do I mean by “in the same manner and at the same time?” I can be angry now and not angry later. I can be angry at one person and not angry with another, and so on, but I cannot both be impassible (having no emotion) and angry (a passion).
Yes, I can at one time be impassible about one thing and impassioned about another, but this concerns different subjects, not the core character of the individual, which is the claim made of the god of the Evangelicals.
YHWH is a Jealous God
YHWH can be quite jealous. Jealousy is an emotion. The word refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity or anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that you hold to be valuable.
In Deuteronomy 6:15 it tells us (KJV)
“For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”
I have known a lot of marriages that did not end well. I even knew a son who rightfully killed his father when he came home to find his father mercilessly beating his mother, and then started to stab her. Pete had no choice, and I told him so. The father was jealous over the loss of his marriage to the point he was willing to kill or be killed.
Look at the verse again. YHWH is a Jealous God.
BTW, in KJV when you see “LORD” in all caps, the word is YHWH.
Have you ever known a jealous person? Kind of negative emotion, isn’t it? And so YHWH is not only positive characteristics but also negative characteristics, at least according to what he reveals about himself in the Bible, if you believe it.
If you don’t believe it, then believe whatever you want. Make up your own god like I made up my own car earlier, just imagine what you want and say it is god, just don’t confuse that with the God of the Bible, YHWH.
Are humans like this, getting angry at times?
Why, yes, we are.
YHWH in Heaven
[Job 1:6-7 NIV]:
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it."
Dimensions again are things we can measure. Note here again what the text says, when dimensions are used? Note that every being in this text is a spiritual being, and that they can be in each other’s presence, or move some distance away from the other. Note the heaven is like this. Satan came to the location where God, YHWH was. Note also it was at a specific time. Precise time keepers were not there, nor on earth at this time, but it is called a day, yowm in transliterated Hebrew. Note it also took place in heaven, a specific location which the spiritual beings are all subject to. If this were not the case then Satan could not have come before YHWH. The word in Hebrew is yatsab, a specified location in front of someone. To deny this is to make up whatever you want and read it into the text, that is pretext.
Read the text again.
Note there was not only a “day” when this happened, but first in time YHWH spoke to Satan, and after that, in time, Satan spoke back to YHWH. There was a sequence of speaking events that took place, and this continues in the text.
This is the Word of God, you don’t get to make whatever you want from it, especially if you tell other not to do the same. You don’t get to chide Thomas Jefferson for leaving out what he wanted to and then leave out whatever you want to. It can’t be both ways. Either it is OK to take what you want and leave the rest, or it is not. Which is it?
So in heaven, there is time differentiating longer periods (yowm), and small sequences, one person speaks and after he is finished, the next person speaks.
This isn't Berger King, you can’t have it your way. Words have specified meaning, there is semiotic rules to follow in language.
Forgive the meaningless tautology, but, it is what it is. We can continue with our logic and say, it is what it is, it isn’t something else, and it can't be both ways.
YHWH on the Mountain
The Bible claims that in space-time history YHWH came to Mount Sinai several times and had conversations with Moses.
Notably, the first time after he fled Egypt and YHWH told him to go back and get his people out of Egypt, then at a later time and through a notable sequence of times and separate events, YHWH inflicted a series of increasingly harsh punishments on Egypt until they let the Children of Israel go.
Moses then, months later, at a different time came back to the mountain and climbed back up to talk with God. YHWH was there at that location and time also. YHWH was not always on the mountain.
And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
So YHWH is in some location and that location can change, he told Moses to come up to see him, then told him to go back and tell the people not to come up to see him or they would die. He was some specific (but unknown) distance in three dimensional space. There was a time when he was on the mountain, and a time when he was not, and then a time when he was on the mountain again. That is, he can come and go through three dimensional space and at different times. One of the time was not so good. We have seen YHWH can get angry, and that is what happened.
[Exd 32:7-14 NIV]:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'" Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Fortunately, YHWH does change his mind, as he does some forty times in the Bible. Moses virtually talked YHWH into not killing Israel. He repented, he changed his mind and turned away from what he had told Moses he would do. Was he lying?
Again, you are going to have to decide if you are going to believe the Bible or not. If not, then just make up whatever you want, but understand the difference between God revealing himself to you and you merely making up something and trying to make it stick.
YHWH Can Be Stubborn
So YHWH can change his mind as he did some forty times in the Bible, but there are two times he refused to change his mind.