Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Part 3

Now, we have seen how the Great Barge made its’ way through history, as the vessel of one people, in one place, at one time. From their river, the Euphrates, came the Tigris, and the vessels for it, the kalak. Let us then examine the navigation of those tiny boats, for history will turn on them. Indeed, all the world will soon be covered by the swarm of them out on their run.

Following the reports of the resurrection of the Messiah, a frenetic wave of activity covered the Roman empire; first in Judea, then in Greek cities like Corinth, Thessaloniki, and the Gallic city Galatia. Within a generation, men trained to go out into the waters of the nations-to be fishers of men, as the kalak is used often-to spread the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most famous of these is of course Paul, the apostle to the gentiles; but, while chief amongst them, he was one of many who went forth, proclaiming the Good News.

There were fish to catch, for the Kingdom of God, and the early followers of The Way-known now as Christianity-left no stone unturned for those willing to repent and believe. They sailed the Tigris, casting their nets on all sides, looking for people to fish out and be saved. In the beginning, this was a tidal swell of activity, which was threatening to wash over the whole world. Indeed, until the age of Constantine, it looked for all the world like the Way might prevail against all odds. There seemed to be no way to stop the conversion of the Earth to the Gospel.

This is not empty rhetoric; Gibbons felt strongly that Christianity brought the Roman Empire down, as did Nietzsche. As a side note, I personally think the disease brought back from the Parthian wars of the third century did them in more than anything. Inflation was killing them, and political discord after the death of Marcus Aurelieus led to the splitting of the Empire into four factions. But it is perfectly reasonable to assert what Gibbons and Nietzsche did. An army with no weapons had beaten Rome-no weapons except having gained mastery over the fear of death.

You will recall our discussion of the impact of death on humans. Oddly, this is a dull sting to aboriginals and hunter-gatherers. They have an easier time accepting the way of things. Only as people became civilized did they become afraid: it would seem that having a luxurious life leads one to fear it ending. After all, if death eats you, what was the point of anything? If the only fate that awaits is nothingness, is it not the ultimate cruelty, to live long enough to realize that you are going to blank out, then go dark, extinguished, and erased?

The idea-the fact, in a Roman mind-that you will end was a torment they could not endure. They sought for every way possible to gain immortality-through writings, sculptures, histories. When you see these things, you seeing the Roman soul, flailing in fear, that they will not even be remembered. It was the keen awareness of this fear that the Romans used to dominate and control people; without this, Rome could not stand. A person who did not fear death was a weapon that could not be disarmed. This did challenge the Roman way of thinking, and undermined their cultural values greatly.

So, Christianity could be seen as an assault on Roman values themselves, as Nietzsche points out in Genealogy of Morals. Even today, I still cannot find a way to conclusively dismiss his argument empirically. While I do not agree with Frederick’s conclusion, his synopsis is quire valid. Romans did not like The Way. It was emasculating, prudish, and, well, Jewish. Romans liked conquest, personal glory, domination, and the glorious festival of the winter solstice, the Saturnalia. They were lovers of life, the Romans-for death was always after them.

Christianity is the death they fear, plus a new kind of death-a death to self, which took away the thin veneer of joy they had, in keeping Grendel upon the moors. In any other circumstance, they would have obliterated the offending cult-as they were famous for doing. But in Christianity, they finally met their match. They met an opponent who grew stronger as you killed them. Roman plebians-the commoners-who had long suffered under the patrician class, found that The Way offered them a power they could not have elsewise: the power to defy Rome. Slaves, as Frederick noted, were especially attracted to the Gospel, as it offered what they had never known, which was hope for a better tomorrow.

So the swell built, washing away the Roman power, and was being followed-even against psychotics like Diocletian-in the breadth of the Empire, surging as the Pagan ways were dwindling out. After Adrianople, Rome was an empty shell, a paper tiger that barbarians would to scoff-and later, take. Those people, the Goths, would elevate Christianity to new level-but at the price of creating a juggernaut of terror unmatched even in the days of Rome. This terror was Rome plus the Church, which became known formally as the Papacy. Please note, with acumen, the following:  This is not anti-Catholic. This is anti-Papal. I love my Catholic brethren fully and unconditionally. The Papacy is not Catholic: it is a tumor than grew up on the church. After the Peaces of Westphalia. the terror was finally leashed, and today is actually a spiritual center of some sorts, although the sybarite, hedonistic elements still remain strong within the Vatican.

The fall of the Terror of Rome was coterminus with the discovery of the New World (or, not Europe), and with this came a literal sailing of missionaries across the whole Earth, in the wake of Magellan’s epic quest to triumph over the insults heaped upon him by the King of Portugal. Unfortunately, this would not be the tale of epic splendor one would hope-for vessels meant to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead brought horror and darkness, and the commodification of people in the service of avarice. This is largely due to the impact of the arch-criminal of history, who harmed more than can be counted. This isn’t the standard bad guy-Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or even Karl Marx. This person cast a shadow over most of our planet that threw billions into ruin and nightmare, all through uniting the Gospel of Christ with that of Mammon. He is the son of the Papacy, who in fighting Popes became one, and the father of most protestant denominations in the West. This was Jean Calvin, and our next interlude will have to examine why he and his Papal counterparts made the Cross of Jesus Christ a sign of disrepute and disgust to most of humanity.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Four, Part Two

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter four, part two

     So, we have discovered the basic state of play for mankind in the time of Jesus.  It was to this broken, fallen world that He came, draped in human flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.  He ministered to the Hebrews, to the tribes of Abraham, to the Great barge, because only they could
know who He was.  No one else would have understood His miracles, His sermons, His sacrifice.  Having ministered for three years, He established His church, and prepared her to got out into the rest of the world, to make disciples of all men, in preparation for the day when the rivers merge again.

     He explained by parable, that He wanted His hall filled, for the great day of His marriage, and that the disciples were to go and preach, ‘whosoever will’.  From Matthew 22:

Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with [e]dinner guests.

     This stands in stark contrast to the first journey on the Euphrates.  The requirements were harsh, terrifying and immutable.  There was no grey area for behavior under the Law.  This seemed like a bum deal to the Hebrews; after all, they bore the Torah through the desert, and suffered greatly for it.  We see the mind of Judah in the parable of the Prodigal: the older brother, the one who remained, was angry that the profligate was received.  And in the parable of the vineyard, those who worked all day were angry that the wage was the same for those who worked an hour.  To be honest, they kind of have a point.

     It seems grossly unfair that the gentiles would be treated as family by El Shaddai.  What was the point of separating out from the nations, if those nations are welcomed in anyway?  I sympathize with the Hebrews in this: like Jonah, I have to call BS on what must be called as such.  The Ninth commandment compels it.  I can understand the older brother: why did he remain and work, if the younger could party and come back like nothing happened?

     Well, as the story goes, the older brother, Judah, did not get shorted after all.  The Father comforts him, and says, clearly in Luke 15

29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never [k]neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your [l]wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you [m]have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

     Yahweh has never left Judah, not even in the worst of times.  He cannot, for Judah is His inheritance.  While the Gentiles were welcomed in, to be loved, restored, and uplifted, he has no portion on the farm.  It is, in fact, Judah’s farm.  Now, please pay close attention to the following words:

     This not about the love of God: this is about the proprietorship of the farm.  Jesus loves all mankind, no exceptions.  He paid for the sins of all people, no exceptions.  He sent His disciples to all the world, no exceptions. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is supernumerary to all barriers, all thoughts, all constructs of matter or will than do or can exist.  There is no power, in hard or limitless reality, that can interpose between the soul reaching to be saved, and mighty hand Yahweh to do so, as he attests in Isaiah 59. 

     That love belongs to all His progeny, no exceptions.  However, the administrative functions of the farm-those are not handed out to the wedding guests.  Those belong to Judah.  This will rankle a few people-and let me state that I am a gentile by birth-but the facts are intransigent.  The older brother has, as his portion, all the Father has.  This is established by the leadership team of the next reality, the final one, immortal, impervious to darkness.  Eternity is going to be run by thirteen Jewish men.  One Messiah, Yeshua, and His twelve friends, the Apostles.

    If you think that is incidental, try this.  Flip a coin thirteen times in a row, and try to get all heads.  Unless you have an Altered Carbon download, you will die of old age before that happens.  A permutation of 2 to the 13th power is pretty huge; it’s a series circuit that fails the first time you flip tails-and that just represents that they are are males.  That they are all Hebrew males-the chance of that event occurring is so  astronomical that I can’t calculate it.  It would be a theta value, which in Trigonometry is a number so small, it can be said to be 0, even though it is not.

     So let’s face the facts: Judah has not been subjected to ‘replacement theology’.  El may add to that number-after all, there were Ger who followed the Law, and were counted as native born, with an inheritance (ezek 47).  But Judah is given reign over the estate.  When all things come to an end, when the Millenium is over, and this world obliterated, the leadership team of New Jerusalem, which has a gate for each Tribe of Israel, will be Hebrews, and those who joined them on the Great Barge. 

     If this chaffs you, please remember that if you attending the wedding of the Lamb, you are not on fire.  That is a benny worth-well, anything.  If you are on fire, that is your job.  Not being on fire is an amazingly  good deal, especially when we earned it.  So, I am alright if I say ‘Sir’ to a Hebrew-considering that I could be saying “AHHHHHHHHH!” as I run around perpetually immolated.  Perspective, at times, is a virtue worth pursuing.

     This segue will lead us right to where Paul discusses the Jew and the Gentile, in Romans 3, where he explains that Hebrews have lost nothing.  Rather, the goyim have gained life, and the love of God, which can be spread around to as many as will receive them.  Now, we have returned to Romans 4 again, where the circumcised and uncircumcised children of Abraham are being brought in their vessels.  We will discuss the Kalak one more time, so that we can envision the day when all the vessels of faith join up in that happy armada, the Marriage of the Lamb.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Four, Part One

So, what then is the purpose of having a Tigris?  El gave a Law to His people, to govern their existence.  Why then does the Tigris branch off at all?  After all, it would seem that He had a plan in place for the superintendence of His people.  But that proved to be the very reason the Tigris run was needed.  There were people living in this world that had grown up under the aegis of inquiry.  These had never heard of the written Torah, and did not know how the universe worked.

The civilized world was built on power, brutality, and avarice, all of which stemmed from one source: the fear of death.  From the mighty to the small, death plagued the soul of fallen men.  It was the spectre on the moors, a dread banshee that could not be repelled.  In fact, the more power and largess an empire acquired, the more the feared death.  The race of power makes one aware of the danger of power; thus, as one gains power, one fears losing it even more.  This was true for civilizations as well as people; the savagery and cruelty needed to make civilization (as Nietzsche detailed in Genealogy of Morals) always leaves a haunting whisper in the mind of the victor, as he surveys the dead he slaughtered to become a king: one day, this will be you.

Death, the constant northern star of fallen man’s literature and art; Death, the motor that drives his quest for first medicine, then immortality; Death, the hand and their throat, waking them in the night, waiting silently just beyond the door, silently, patiently.  Death, the cessation of anima, obsessed fallen man.  Death is the progenitor of all the gifts of civilization, either through the arts, philosophy, medicine and logic, or through mathematics and science, through which power may be gained.  It’s invincibility, omnipresence, and inevitability made it a god to men, literally.  Every ancient pantheistic religion had a god of death, who generally had to be appeased to stave him off.

If you think I am overstating this, pick up some Camus, or give Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal a watch.  For an abridged version of existentialist angst, watch What if Ingmar Bergman directed the Flash? on youtube.

Ultimately, we can go back to the man that the Greeks and Romans revered as the great sage: Homer.  It was he that penned the verse by which all of them lived:

“Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

This diatribe is of overwhelming importance, because you can now see how the minds of men were formed by history.  It was to this verse that Paul referred when he wrote “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope”.  (1 thess 4).

Now, I must be thorough, which requires a quick statement.  The Greeks were investigating the possibility of the immortality of spirit as early as 400 bc, in what were called the Eleusinian mysteries.  So the idea of escaping Death was not totally unheard of.  These cults were highly guarded and secretive, probably because they were sexual rites.  For the majority of mankind, however, it seemed that life was a cruel joke,  in which Camus said it was absurd to assign meaning.  It is perhaps summed up best by T.S. Elliiot:

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

It was to this world, a world without hope, a world of fear and terror, ruled by empires of fear and terror, that the Great Barge brought the sacred scroll, Torah.  Alexander of Macedon introduced the Hebrews to the world, and they moved to his eponymous city, Alexandria.  There, the Greek would work with them to translate the Torah into the Septuagint work that survives today.  Things were looking good, until the Hebrews revolted against the Seleucid Greeks (Seleucus  being a general of Alexander that inherited part of his master’s empire upon Alexander’s death).  Antiochus IV placed a statue of Zeus in the Temple, prefiguring the Abomination that causes Desolation in the End Times, when the Antichrist sits in the 3rd temple’s holiest seat, and declares himself God.  This led to the Maccabean revolt, which plunged Judea into constant turmoil and violence, until the Diaspora in 70 ad.

It was to Judea that Yeshua ben David, known also as Jesus, came with His ministry.  His work was strictly limited to the people of Israel;  not that He was a racist, but His focus was on the Hebrews, not the Goyim.  This was intended, for the Hebrews were versed in the Torah: they were educated and instructed by the Law, and moreover, knew of the prophesies that accompanied the arrival of the Messiah.  Jesus performed His miracles to show the Hebrews that He was the Anointed One, of whom the prophets had spoken.

In short order, the power elites of Judea worked to kill Jesus.  Like the empires of men, they feared death, and the loss of power.  That should have been the end of it.  But then, the world changed in three days (note: for a Hebrew, three days means “one whole day, with part or all of a day on either side of it’).  The impossible, if the reports of this man Jesus could be believed, had occurred.  Mankind’s ancient enemy, his tormentor, his god-like foe, had been thrown down.  As lunatic as it was fervent, the cries rang through the streets of Jerusalem, tearing down walls between Greek and Jew, and giving mankind the hope that they had never known:

“HE IS ALIVE!”

To the Greek, the Roman, the fallen, this simply could not be.  Death could not be defeated. And yet, here they were, the tribe of Christians (as Josephus called them), willing to face the very power at which all men and empires quailed, to proclaim the name of Jesus to Rome and the rest of the world.  Here, the Tigris Run, the Gospel of the Risen Christ, would burst forth from the water table made flush by the mighty Euphrates, to bring the light of the Torah to all mankind, borne on the modest Kalak that bears the joyous refrain:

He is Alive.

Abraham, river of faith: interlude on bifurcation

This is a short rest on our journey, a place to cool our heels. In the old West, cowpokes would use these reprieves to tell stories, and pass around some grub or coffee.  In keeping with the traditions of the land where men were free, I too want to spin a yarn-not a tall tale of epic daring-do, but, rather, about a thematic element in the writing of Yahweh.  This element is bifurcation.

Some will beef with me on this.  How can I, a mere man, critique the words of the Almighty God?  Well, I am made in His image, Regenerate in His royal blood-and I have a university education.  Image, by the way, should be rendered likeness, or similarity.  Yahweh doesn’t have a body-He is supernumerary to the conventions He created (time, space, matter).  Our likeness to Him is our reason (or wisdom, in Psalms 8).  His mind works like ours, because ours works like His.

His writing can be deconstructed, just like any literary form.  El has themes, a plot, symbolism, and a conflict.  He has styles which He favors, that flavor His work, like any human writer does.  Accordingly, we can examine one of His primary thematic elements, which is bifurcation, the splitting of something into two parts.  This works in tandem with His consistent use of the symbolism of two in His work.

From the beginning, Yah divides the universe.  He makes water and land; earth and heaven; sun and moon; and, when HE makes His children, He makes them ‘male and female’.  This particular bifurcation, along with providing fodder for most music and writing, is considered by some cultures to be the fundamental substance of existence itself (Yin and Yang, Shiva/Shakti).  This is a curious situation, since El reveals Himself in the masculine primarily.  There does not appear to be a feminine aspect of Elohim (a fact which the Babylonians derided, as their religion was based on gods and goddesses having sex).

The theme of two repeats itself throughout the Bible.  Proverbs are phrased in couplets, for instance.  Some of the major overtures of the Bible come from two brothers in conflict: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ismael, Jacob and Esau, and even Judah and Israel.  If we examine history, we can see that Jew and Greek are not just terms of Paul’s day, but, rather, represent the perpendicular patterns of life between the Hebrew pattern-superintendence- and the Greek, which is inquiry.  The latter would build civilization to answer the great questions, and the former would come from the wilderness to bring them the sacred scroll, Torah.

Paul refers to this continually in his missives.  As we saw in Romans, he discusses the two sons of Abraham: the Circumcised, and the Uncircumcised.  This pattern is consistent with flow of the Bible.  Although the Shmei tells us ‘El is one’, he often has two sons that He loves equally.  Even when He separates out the Hebrews, and the Prosyltos with them, to make Israel, He also provides hope that He will one day tear down the walls, and bring the Gentiles home to Him.

In the end, there is only one.  When all is settled, there will be divisions no more.  This is the power of a well written story: when the end almost entirely resembles the beginning.  The circle completed is a hallmark of masterful writing.  In the Bible, we see this.  All was one, then divisions occurred.  But when the final second of the clock of this reality is struck, we will reunite forever in El.

Now that we have chewed the fat, and sat a spell, I will pick up my tack and head back out on the range.  The theme of two will recur often in this work, so I wanted to hash out the details before we hit the trail.  Let us take our kalak, now, into the swift, roaring waters of the Tigris.  The Great barge is still rumbling along, chugging inexorably to the end.  Let us see, then, what the trip on the Tigris entails.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 3, Part 4

Now, let us turn to the narrative of the Scriptures on the the tribes of Israel.  The origin, the Exodus, immediately shows a faultline in the Hebrew peoples, that will manifest time and time again.  Stephen died pointing out this flaw: ‘you received the law as by Elohim, and you did not keep it.”  Without regard to the miracles done to show them that, as Yul Brenner said, ‘Moses’ God IS God’, they still ran the other way every chance they got.  It is irony of the first order that the Egyptians were willing, at the very last, to accept that this was so, and the People of Yah would reject it time and time again.

The first generation was condemned to die in the desert, because of their apostasy.  They were nearly obliterated from existence, by the wrath of Yahovah.  Only Moses saved the Godly line from ablution, a man who was a prince of Egypt, who murdered an overseer, and fled his country to the wilderness.  This man learned righteousness, and his character was testified to, not by men, but by El Himself.

“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
I shall speak with him in a dream.
“Not so, with My servant Moses,
He is faithful in all My household;
With him I speak mouth to mouth,
Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
And he beholds the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant, against Moses?  (num 12)

Yet the people did not.  Even as the Promised Land came into sight, the people were struck with terror, for the dreaded Annakim were amongst them.  Having forgot that El cowed the army of Pharoah, an army that won a pyrrhic victory against the mighty Hittites, and drowned that army, they still feared the giants.  It was the courage of Joshua, for whom Jesus was named (Yahoshua, God saves His people) that led them forward, in the promise of El for the land.  Yet it was not long before the troubles came.

Aachan scarred the victory at Jericho, causing the Holy Camp to obliterate him, and his family.  This would scar most people, watching the children die with him, as rocks cascaded over their frames, until at last, the stony rain washed away the last of their vitae, whose remains were then purged by holy fire.  Then, for  a time, things ran well. Joshua oversaw what seemed to be the Promise that they had been given, of a land of milk and honey.  This, unfortunately, was the calm before the storm.

In the accounts of Judges, we see the development of a dreaded cycle: Israel chases after other gods, is chastised by El through the scourge of the Nations, and then when they have been purified by anguish, they are delivered back to the Land.  There,  they promptly abandoned their vows to be holy, and went into ‘rinse and repeat’ mode.  Time  and time again, they put of the Asherahs, the Baals, Chemosh-then were punished for it, and thence delivered again.  It became a vaudeville, like the old Benny Hill show, where the whole world ends up chasing him to the burlesque music, but he ends up back home, safe.  On next weeks show, you know it will happen again; after a while, you get to expect it.

Finally, a Judge named Samson ends the parody-with the greatest life that was ever lived.  Samson was not the holy men of the past; he was a drunken fornicator, who had some character flaws (animal cruelty, and excessive egotism).  He also killed-not murdered- tons of people, which leaves some people in an ethical quandary, since these homicides occurred under the auspices of the holy Spirit.  Eventually, he committed suicide, to escape his nagging broad.  But even as death came for him, ‘them which he killed in his death, were more than those killed in his life’.

Then comes Samuel, who watched as Israel divorced Yahweh, to have a King like the nations around them.  They clamored for political power and intrigue, and they got it in spades.  The first king turned against El, and tried to murder his successor.  Then the righteous David murdered his loyal friend Uriah out of covetousness.  His son Solomon brought idolatry back to Israel, where it was consistently a problem until the Assyrians and Babylonians resolved it for them.

When the Hebrews got back to the land, they revolted against the Seluccid Greek rulers, were free a while, and then got a sweetheart deal with Marc Anthony that irritated Rome until they diaspora.  It was this special status, against bowing before the Paterfamilias, that the Pharisees and rulers wished to protect in the time of Jesus.  The men responsible to bless the one comes in the name of El instead wanted Him gone, to protect their privilege in the kingdom of the Gentiles (note: this is not Jew blaming, it is Sanhedren blaming).

This is how the journey progressed.  Though the Law was given as by Elohim, a Law declared not be beyond reach (deut 30), a Law that revealed the light of God, the chosen people not only did not keep it-they did not want it.  Yahovah called Israel His bride; and like most spoiled women, she only wanted what she didn’t, or couldn’t have.  Like Aphrodite in Baron Munchausen, as many diamonds as Vulcan fused from his bare hands, the same were tossed over her shoulder as she complained ‘ANOTHER diamond’.

Finally, the Temple is smashed by the Romans, the Hebrews scattered, and the veil torn by Christ, ending the priesthood of Aaron.  It would seem, then, that the river had dried up, the journey ended.  But the Euphrates is the Great River; it is history.  It has one final appearance to make, in the end of days, when the run of the Tigris is complete.  No, the Euphrates was not ended, or abolished.  It was suppressed, as per Eph 2:15; Paul uses the word Katagero there, to explain that the dividing wall was pushed down, deflated, so that those who were far could be brought near.  This was to bring in Abraham’s other children, those of the Uncircumcision, whose river we will now explore.