Sunday, July 6, 2008

God expresses awesome

In between the magazines that keep piling up, I've been reading a Haggadah (the story of the Moses and the other Hebrews leaving Egypt). This one is called A Night of Questions, and a comment in the introduction struck me:

When the Israelites reached the safety of the far side of the Sea of Reeds and paused to look back, they did not say, "lucky break, low tide." They said rather, "this is God."
The significance of their experience could not be captured by "cool, low tide," or "that was awesome." I can't think of any way our language captures the awesomeness of such events without referring to God: "Praise God!" "Thanks be to God!"

I've commented on the unique significance of God-phrases before. I'm not sure of the significance of this apparent language barrier for atheists. But the circumscribed expression of those who deny God's existence is certainly a factor pushing me toward the theist camp. Blessed be God.


Tausign said...

I meant to comment on your May post about greetings and farewells. The common farewell 'Goodbye' is from Olde English meaning 'God be with ye'. See Wikipedia

I am enthralled with the reading of the beginning of Hebrew Scriptures. Particularly the slow emergence of God into the consciousness of a people in history. A weak metaphor I have in my mind is the image of a 'river rising'.

I had a misconception that rivers were only formed from the runoff of rain or snow along mountains. Later I discovered that most rivers start from vast unseen underground sources of water. If you follow a river back to it's origin you discover a swamp where water simply appears, mostly as murky matter. Go back further and you discover dry land.

This is how I experience the emergence of God's known 'presence' in history. The Hebrew people had to learn to recognize his 'voice' over time and to distinguish him from other false gods that surrounded them.

One of the problems that confronts us Moderns is to see the event at 'The Sea of Reeds' either as a myth, or a natural phenomenon with a reasonable explanation; or view it a la Charton Heston with giant walls of water in animated technicolor.

For me, this event is in some fashion true and historically real, though we will never know what parting water looked like. More importantly, it shows that the people understood it was God's hand that effected their escape in a dramatic manner against extreme odds. Yahweh reveals himself. "God expresses awesome." Shalom.

lyrl said...

That is fascinating about the "Goodbye" etymology. It certainly gives an added layer of meaning to that phrase. Thanks for the tip!