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Is G-d “just a slob like one of us”?

February 6, 2014

One of us?Some years ago, whenever I would hear a hit One of Us sung by Joan Osborne, a song with catchy lyrics “What if G-d was one of us?”, I would think to myself – “Hello! What if? He did become one of us two thousand years ago and He still is! Ever hear of Jesus, the G-d in the flesh???” But just the other day, while shopping for groceries, I heard this song once again. This time, however, I was struck by the absurdity of imagining the Eternal G-d as one of us, a man in a crowd, a “slob like one of us” (as that song goes). How vastly different is the G-d of the Universe described in the Jewish scriptures! How supremely more holy is He than we are, His creation, how awesome is He beyond any earthly description, how incomparable is He to anything found on earth or in heaven! “Who is like you, L-RD G-d Almighty?” (Psalm 89:8), “For who in the heavens above can compare with the L-RD? Who is like the L-RD among the heavenly beings?” (Psalm 89:6-7). No, He’s not like us.

My thoughts then drifted to the way the New Testament exalts man Jesus. Coming home from the store, I decided to open a New Testament. There I quickly found some of the same words of praise and worship that the Hebrew Bible directs toward the G-d of Israel, the Holy One of my forefathers. Except in this “Greek Bible” these awe-inspiring words were not directed to the G-d that led Israelites out of Egypt with a mighty hand. No, they were not addressed to the Eternal L-rd who appeared to my people through smoke, fire, earthquake, thunder and lightning that shook the holy mountain. Rather, these same words of praise, exaltation and adoration, which rightly belong only to the Almighty and no one else, were now being “repurposed” to shower a mortal man instead, to exalt a creature that was born, lived and died.

Having believed that Jesus was G-d for the last twenty years, it’s still hard for me to not associate this name with deity. And yet, he was a man of flesh and bone, a fellow Jew who lived and died long ago, and despite what Christianity has turned him into, still a mere mortal. As such, he deserved nothing of the honor due to G-d alone. G-d reminds us through the holy scriptures: “I will not yield my glory to another…” (Isaiah 42:8) and “I, even I, am the L-RD, and apart from me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11). As a Jew, I must always remember these solemn words, lest I betray my Creator and honor another “god” or call a creature my savior.

Then I thought – what if Jesus’ name was not “Jesus”, but some other name, a modern name that is as commonplace today as the name “Yeshua” or “Yehoshua” was in the first century? How would the New Testament’s words of exaltation and praise originally directed to the man who was later proclaimed G-d sound to us today if we substituted “Jesus” or “Christ” with some other moniker? Would this wake us up to see that we are worshiping a creature? I decided to do that on my blog and proceeded to find some verses in my NIV, slightly modifying them for my experiment:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Brian: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, Brian humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Brian to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Brian every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Brian is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

When God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship Sheldon.” (Hebrews 1:7)

Richard is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Rick all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Rick and for him. Richard is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And Rick is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything Rick might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. (Colossians 1:15-19)

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To Him who sits on the throne and to William be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)

Then Adrian came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Tyler answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    February 6, 2014 6:00 am

    I agree. Coming from anyone else – even Abraham, Moses, King David, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Justin Beiber – those words would be blasphemous. They sounded blasphemous in first-century Israel, and yet tens of thousands of Jews believed those words and, later, millions of Gentiles. I’m still blown away by the thought that the Creator of the Universe, who humbles himself to even to ‘behold the things in heaven and earth’ (Ps 113:6) should become one of us (but not a ‘slob’ like one of us). I love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob not only for creating me and for providing for me but also for coming into the world to save me. I’m awed by the fact that God not only created the created all things but also that he came to his own people and, even though his own people did not receive him (John 1:11) tho those who do receive he continues to make them his children. The God you currently worship is too small.

  2. benicho permalink
    February 6, 2014 10:38 am

    Does it settle better knowing the Mashiac will be a slob, in that that he’ll be a person?

  3. February 6, 2014 10:41 am

    ” The God you currently worship is too small.”

    Mike, but that’s the only G-d that my forefathers met in person and knew intimately. He was and is always a prayer away.

    What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the L-RD our G-d is near us whenever we pray to him? (Deuteronomy 4:7)

    He was certainly not “too small” for them. Whenever they would hear of “G-d’s firstborn son”, they knew it was a reference to them, the people of Israel (Exodus 4:22), not some divine “Son” that supposedly always lived alongside G-d and was the “second person of the Trinity”. The G-d of Israel is not a schizophrenic with a multiple personalities disorder who talks to Himself (nothing against people with mental illnesses, of course).

    Jesus, however, being both man and god was not so special in the ancient world. Indeed, god walking among us humans was not so “humble” or unique as Christians would like to believe. It was quite commonplace – this is why the pagan world readily accepted this new god. The world that Jesus was born into was already filled with hero demigods and divine emperors born of gods who came down to earth and impregnated virgins. It was these humanoid gods who were “too small” (and very false) in comparison to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These were “gods” made in man’s own image.

  4. February 6, 2014 10:46 am

    “Does it settle better knowing the Mashiac will be a slob, in that that he’ll be a person?”

    benicho, the true Jewish messiah will be a humble man like Moses, and he will be a mere human like you and I, not a perfect demigod. So, compared to the perfect G-d, he will indeed be a “slob”. We know from the prophets that the Jewish king himself will be required to bring sin sacrifices into the rebuilt Temple. And he will certainly not accept worship due to G-d alone – which is what this post is about.

  5. benicho permalink
    February 6, 2014 1:30 pm

    do you believe the mashiac, as esteemed as he has been throughout history, would be able to solve the problems of the world simply being a man? the comparison of a jewish mashiac being on the level of moshe seems rather unbalanced, or do you see moshe as being that type of person for his time?

  6. February 6, 2014 1:55 pm

    “do you believe the mashiac, as esteemed as he has been throughout history, would be able to solve the problems of the world simply being a man?”

    Benicho, let me ask you a question. Was Moshe, a mere man like you and I, the one who took Israel out of Egypt with great signs and wonders, or was it someone else behind the scenes? Did Moshe himself bring to its knees the most powerful civilization in the world at the time with only a staff in his hand, or was it G-d who actually did all the hard work and “solved the problems”? Why do you think that the Jewish Messiah needs to be “god” when Moshe sufficed with “simply being a man”?

  7. benicho permalink
    February 6, 2014 5:56 pm

    what is the reason for esteeming moshe or a mashiac at all? despite moshe’s character strengths and flaws his existence it seems was overshadowed by Gd anyways, so why should we look out for specific characters?

  8. February 6, 2014 7:28 pm

    “what is the reason for esteeming moshe or a mashiac at all?…why should we look out for specific characters?”

    Because they are G-d’s chosen – they represent G-d before other people and G-d acts through them, flaws and all. They are His instruments. If we claim to respect G-d, we respect those He anoints. This is why David was enraged at the death of Saul and punished the one who killed “G-d’s anointed”, even though Saul acted wickedly even against David himself (2 Samuel 1:14). To be chosen and anointed by G-d a person need not be perfect, and he certainly doesn’t need to be god. The Bible speaks of many “messiahs”, or anointed – prophets, priests, kings – none of them were divine. And that’s the great and grave error of Christianity.

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