Friday, April 7, 2017
Who or what is God?
The Creation by James Tissot
One of the most astounding things I heard when I began to really study the Bible was that there were many gods. Not in the sense of the ancient Greeks and Romans looking towards Olympus - although that could hold some answers as well - but in the sense that God-God, the Highest One, needs other mighty beings to implement His intentions.
Take for instance the first words in the Bible,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
In Hebrew this text goes like this,
“Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets.”
The word translated into English as God is Elohim. Who is this Elohim character? For the Hebrews God was Jehovah or YHVH, but they also had other gods as described in Wikipedia:
El Elyon ("Most High God"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), El `Olam ("Everlasting God"), El Hai ("Living God"), El Ro'i ("God of Seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("God, the God of Israel"), El Gibbor ("God of Strength")
It will be no accident that there are seven. Then there is Moses’ famous conversation with God at the burning bush, when Moses asks God what his name is (Exodus 3:14) and the response is Ehyeh asher ehyeh, I am that I am. In the New Testament, Jesus refers to this I Am often using the Greek words ego eimi. Notably when he was challenged about where his authority came from in John 8:58
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
Landscape with Moses and the Burning Bush by Domenichino 1600-10
Understanding the I Am can provide answers to questions we may have about God. link to I Am post.
Amidst all this confusion, it is perfectly understandable when people say, “I don’t believe in God.” They have the courage to admit that, so far, they have no information to assist them to have any plausible understanding of God. Blind faith doesn’t do it. When they come across ideas about God they do not experience any inner confirmation that the information makes sense.
When I first heard that about the Elohim-God I felt liberated. The Elohim are one level of the nine levels of spiritual beings that put the highest God’s intentions into action. These nine levels of spiritual beings were described by Dionysius the Areopagite and using his list we can find them identified throughout the Bible, specifically when the words, power, authority, might, principalities, among others, are used.
The Greek word for Elohim is Exousiai and is rightly translated as power – the power to create. Furthermore, the word Elohim is plural and feminine. I have come to understand why this is. They are the creators of form, like a pregnant woman, and we see their work in every form on this earth. This is like seeing the finished house from the architects plan.
It is clear that no one can explain God to us, we must remove the blindfold ourselves and intelligently discover not just one God but all the Gods who uphold this universe and keep it in order.