After the last post I felt maybe you needed a break from all the angry God talk since, of course, that g.o.d. isn’t real and it hurts your mind of Christ to imagine a Father who is actually a monster. Wow there I go again. So in this post how about we have some fun.
In Texas (and likely other states with cows) sometimes entertainment would include this peculiar practice of cow tipping. I went to college in Texas (hook’em horns) but I never participated in the disproportionate mass and momentum exchange exercise. Cows are big. People are small. Running fast and hitting hard doesn’t work. You had to sneak up on these “sleeping” cows and tip them over before they woke up and got their balance (or stomped all over your stupid body). Anyway there is a technique and a procedure and usually lots of laughing and screeching tires as you flee from the rancher that is stepping out of his front door with a double barrel. Yep, that sounds like fun doesn’t it?
Sometimes we have to tip a cow or two (or many) to “see” the freedom in the pasture. The cow itself isn’t bad but the worship of said cow is disastrous. These sometimes take the form of tradition or doctrine or both. Often there are religious activities associated with the cow worship. Add some seasoning like fear and guilt and condemnation and you have a pretty good barbecue going. Sometimes the cows are more insidious. Disturbing delusional theologies like Penal Substitution find their way into our translations. Greek separation mythology repackaged as scientific cosmology jumps the cross of Calvary and makes its way into our thinking. Deterministic absolutes of human logic and reason and observation often provide the necessary evidence of circumstance we call evidence. Then of course “this is the way it is and has always been” becomes our motto! We cheer as we all sit in comatose agreement about “the obvious nature of things.”
Maybe I have lost you in the philosophical meandering but let me see if I can show you an example of a very sacred cow that needs a good old fashion tipping. Are you ready? I hope so. Please turn on your mind of Christ and activate your union with the Spirit of Christ and call upon the Holy Spirit to illuminate the presence of Christ while you sit in the heavenly circle of Triune Love. OK, here we go. Verse please:
Ex 34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (ESV)
See the bold type words? Now before I sneak up on this cow and give her a little shove…what do you see? Can you see that we go from God describing Himself as the awesome Father you have come to love to declaring that we can expect nothing but suck from Him? I don’t know about you but it is an obvious shift in the conversation. Now in our fallen Adam religious mindset we can declare “well of course, God can do what He wants and we just get to suck and like it.” You can do that but down inside you are in serious conflict. The Holy Spirit is convicting you now of how amazing God is and you are and His plan is. The Holy Spirit is screaming no no no, Jesus does not reveal a God that looks like that unforgiving, schizophrenic g.o.d. Well you can relax, He isn’t. Jesus proved it on the cross and we get to believe it because He is in us as the incarnate creator joining His loved creation. The Holy Spirit is illuminating the glory of Jesus in you as He enjoys the glory the Father bestows on Him. Yep it is OK. Your insides are correct. Let me show you.
This phrase “but who will by no means clear the guilty” is a long translation of three words in the Hebrew “nakkeh lo yenakkeh.” I’m not a Hebrew scholar by any means but I can use the tools available. This phrase can literally mean “clear not clear.” Now of course I have missed some grammar and all but here is a translation by a trusted source, the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: “Acquitting him who is not innocent.” There are other translations by very smart people. They go from “with whom the innocent shall be innocent” from the Samaritan reading of the Hebrew to “the guilty He will not cleanse with a purification-offering” from the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint edited by Dr. Grabe.
Can you see that maybe this cow needs a little push?
OK how about this phrase “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation?” This word “visiting” can be translated as “ceaselessly correcting” or “care for” or “appoint” or “bestow” or “enjoin” or many other similar concepts. The Hebrew word is “paqad” which can have a friendly or hostile intent.
I feel like our hands are very close to that sleeping cow.
The last part of that phrase “on the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation” is an idiom of sorts. The family unit was often 4 generations old. The great-grandfather lived in the same house as the great-grandchildren. A good and long life would be described as one where great grandpa got to hold great grand baby. That would be a long life. So this phrase could be understood as “earthly life.”
OK, are you ready to push. No snickering or she will wake up.
One more quick one is the word “iniquity.” This word could be translated as guilt or shame. So with that here is another way to read these verses in the LLT:
Ex 34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, acquitting the guilty, attending to the guilt of the fathers that they project on their families for all of their lives.” (LLT)
Boom, down goes Nellie. Moo she cries as we start running.
That was fun want to see another quick one? She is just over there by the hay bale. Let’s tip toe over there quickly so we can surprise her too.
Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (ESV)
Same problem as Nellie. What an odd transition by a Triune God who is love and has made all of us for love and just wants to protect us from being stupid and worshiping other cows.
Without all the hand waving and smoke and mirrors but in the same vein…check out this LLT:
Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a
jealouspassionately caring God, visitingattending to the iniquityguilt of the fathers they project on their families because they hatereject Me. I will do this for all of their lives. 6. I will show steadfast love (mercy) for all eternity for those who love me and keep my commandments (the definition of His children in 1 John). (LLT)
(these phrases are a reference to temporal and eternal lives; “to the third and the fourth generation” – a lifetime; “to thousands of those” – eternity)
Wow, right? Nessie really didn’t see us coming.
Can you see how different these verses could read? Is it possible that our pre-conceived religious paradigms could have contaminated our interpretation? You decide. Use your mind of Christ. Personally I am blown away by the beauty of a God who would forgive those that reject Him. I love the idea that He ministers to their guilt so they will know His goodness. I think it is other-worldly to see a God who is so passionately caring that even if thy are dumb enough to worship another God, He doesn’t give up on them. And aren’t you speechless when you entertain the thought of a God who has mercy that never every ends? Wow! Oh boy oh boy, do I love Cow Tipping.