Some things were never meant to be forgotten, like our names or our oaths, but some things (though they have fallen out of memory) cannot seem to stay that way.
Such can be said, for example, about that ancient and erroneous opinion concerning our welfare; that the truest and safest way for the Lord to deal with all of the dangers of this world is to put the fear of God in it all.
This in a nutshell was the opinion of a few in our Bible study some years back, when they thought that the best way to deal with the devil is for God to annihilate him. This was and still is behind that age old question as to why there is evil in the world, after all, an all good God should not tolerate anything found along that spectrum. In other words, the way towards a safer world, a better world, is the route of justice pure and simple.
Now about that the ancient Jews were quite opinionated. For while it was commonly believed that a world without mercy could not survive, it was also told that God kept the peace throughout creation by means of fear.
And so, a story was told about a being called Ziz who kept the creatures of the air from devouring each other simply by flapping its wings and letting out its cry. A story was told about a being called behemoth who kept the creatures of the ground from doing the same by roaring so loud that all could hear it; and leviathan (a name later lent to the devil) accomplished the same goal among sea creatures by spouting up water, a reminder we suppose, of its constant presence.
The mindset was part of their angelology too. For while most know of the seraphim from the Book of Isaiah, singing and praising He who is holy, holy, holy, one ancient story tells of them intimidating ‘the world of spirits’ to ensure that they bring no harm to humanity.
Even the archangels Michael and Gabriel, who have become household names among Christians, are said to be in battle – not against the evil forces of the world – but against other holy angels who might look to accuse Israel in their sight.
Do you see the similarities here? The modern world wants God to step in and crush a rebellion that we in our great wisdom deem to be incorrigible, while the ancient world wanted God to crush the rebellion before it could even happen. And while we all abhor the thought of living in a merciless world, we tend – time and time again – to think that justice will save us.
So what needs to be forgotten? Not these stories surely, but what lies beneath it all; a desire to keep us safe this side of the veil by annihilating the broken among us. Remember, God has promised that all will be made right in the end; let’s leave it to Him to figure out how that will be so.
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