Posted in Lessons, the bible

Unraveling Biblical Wrath

God’s Infamous Wrath

For two-hundred centuries, Christianity has spoken about the wrathful nature of God. God is jealous, fickle and when “His” people sin against “Him” He punishes them with His wrath – doing all manner of terrible things against humanity in retribution for their sin.  We hear of God’s judgment and how those who disobey, who anger or disappoint God, who do not live up to God’s standards will be cast into hell where they will burn for an eternity for their sins.  We read stories of God’s punishment of humanity – barring us from paradise, devastating the world through a flood, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, condemning the Hebrews to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years in their search of the elusive “promised land.”  We hear of how God tested humanity by His wrath – asking Abraham to sacrifice his long=awaited son, creating an environment where jealousy would emerge between Cain and Abel and Esau and Jacob, Jacob’s sons and Joseph.  In the Christian interpretation of Hebrew scripture, God’s wrath has become infamous and for 2000 years has been used as a means of threatening Christians into obedience – even though Jesus spoke only of a loving and compassionate God.  What happened?

Lost in Translation

As I was doing some research in preparation for my Order of Melchizedek Level Four class on the Hebrew Alphabet and the Major Arcana of the Tarot, I came upon an obscure reference on the biblical term wrath:

Wrath is the quality associated with (the Hebrew letter) Samech, but this is a blind. The literal meaning of the original Hebrew noun is “quivering” or “vibration.”  A similar blind is found in the use of the Greek noun thumos, also translated “wrath” in the New Testament. (The Tarot – a Key to the Wisdom of the Ages;  Paul Foster Case. Pg 153).

This reference blew me away! If it were true, it completely changes what Christians have been taught about the wrathful nature of God.  Not satisfied by a singular reference, I got to researching and discovered that what Paul Foster Case is suggesting is undoubtedly true.  While there are many Hebrew words that have been translated “wrath“they all have one thing in common – a sense of movement and vibration, somewhat akin to breath.

The Hebrew word chemah provides the perfect example of the deeper meaning of wrath:

Chemah is commonly translated as wrath. When we break this word down into the Hebrew letters which make up this word so that we can more fully grasp its meaning. we get the following:

Ches/Chet: Means an enclosure – that which supports, protects and carries us. On a spiritual level, Ches/Chet implies Divine Grace.

Mem: Means water. On a spiritual level, Mem represents the revealed and the concealed – inviting us to look beyond the surface of things to what lies beneath/within.

Hei:  Hei means window/door – that which allows light and air to enter our home. On a spiritual level, Hei is the breath through which God creates and represents God’s limitless mercy. (The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael Monk)

Putting this all together, we have chemah – the breath of God which supports, protects and carries us – no matter what that breath looks like from our limited human perspective.  In other words, that which feels like punishment is in fact God’s infinite mercy carrying us to and through our growth.

Let me give you an example – the most basic example – the example upon which every fear of God’s eternal punishment has been predicated – the story of “The Fall.” We all know the story – Adam and Eve lived in Paradise. The serpent came and tempted them to eat of the tree from which God forbade them – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They ate.  God was angry over their disobedience and as punishment, cast them forever out of the Garden of Eden.  The problem is, however, that this is not really how scripture describes it:

Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—  therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life. GN 3: 22- 24

First of all, it only says that the man was driven out.  (things that make you go hmmmmm). Beyond an interesting feminist exploration, a bigger question emerges!  Was God’s action a punishment or an act of mercy?  If the human condition is the consequence of humanity’s decision to “eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” do we want to live forever?  Do we want to be condemned to remaining in the Garden where we will have to experience the suffering that is inherent in the human condition – FOREVER?  I don’t think so!  In God’s great mercy, God removed humanity from the Garden where we could eat of the Tree of Life so that we WOULD NOT have to live forever.  In barring us from the Tree of Life, God opened the door/window (Hei) to our return by ensuring that the human experience is only temporary and after we have completed our journey here, we can return to our original state of Oneness with God.  The other mercy in humanity’s exile from the Garden is the longing for home that has been planted within every human being (Ches/Chet) that compels us to seek after the satisfaction of that longing that can only be fulfilled in God.  This longing is the foundation and source of our spiritual development and growth and ultimately what makes us human.

Throughout scripture we can apply this perspective to every story that speaks of God’s wrath. Was it wrath and punishment or God’s infinite mercy?  Is it condemnation or an opportunity for growth?  When we look beyond the surface of things (Mem), we can see the loving hand of God in everything that unfolds in our human experience – even those things we would rather avoid (pain, suffering, loss, death, betrayal, etc.).  When we look at life through the lens of love, we see that EVERYTHING is an opportunity to know love (aka God) more.

Wrath from a Human Perspective

Now that we have a better understanding of wrath as it pertains to God, let’s take a look at it from the human perspective as it relates to the very real human experience of anger. (Putting on my spiritual psychology hat)….

 

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Posted in Spiritual Practices

Word Play – Word Pray Part II

Today’s blog explores another aspect of using words as a tool for meditation and prayer.

How Could I Forget?

After posting yesterday’s blog, I attended my morning yoga class.  While moving through the asanas, I found two words kept presenting themselves for my reflection:  Simplicity and Tending.  I allowed myself to simply be present to these words.  I didn’t reflect on them or ponder them.  I simply allowed myself to feel these words.  Simplicity gave me the feeling of breathing room and groundedness.  Being present to the word made me feel as if my own personal energy was relaxing, softening and reaching out toward the earth below my feet.  I felt safe, content, secure, at-ease.  Tending had a whole different feeling altogether.  Being present to tending gave me a warm feeling in my heart.  It felt as if my energy that I usually feel as off in all directions in the universe was turning around and coming back to me.  It felt as if the word tending was some sort of magnet drawing my energy back to me.  The energy returned and came to be anchored in my heart, then it moved down and became rooted in the earth.  Tending me.  Tending me.  Tending me.  Through this experience, I received not only intellectual knowledge of what these words mean to me, but received a felt sense  of what I feel like when I allow myself to be present to and receive Simplicity and Tending in my life.  And I have to say…..it felt REALLY good.

Words have Power

My point of sharing this with you is that when we use words as a tool for meditation and prayer, they have power.  Words are not just something that we roll around on our tongue or tumble around in our brain.  Because of the generation upon generation of people who have used these words, given meaning to them and made them a part of their life, words now carry a vibration.  The ancients knew this and it is for this reason that the most ancient languages are thought to have power in and of themselves:  Sanskrit, Hebrew, Aramaic, for example.  Apparently the same is true of English, Spanish, French, Swahili, etc. etc. etc. as well.  Our words have power because of the power we give to them.

Words as a Compass

When we allow ourselves to move beyond the intellectual constructs of a word, we find its true meaning and its deeper power and it can inform us, challenge us, change us.   For me, the words I have been given are valuable nuggets of guidance, instructing me on what to move toward in my life, what to allow and what to receive.  If something comes to me that feels like something other than Simplicity or Tending, I get to say no.  If something feels like either of these things, I am being invited to say yes.  That is really helpful as I stand at this place of in-between watching specific things in my life depart while waiting for the new life to emerge.  Apparently this new life will have simplicity and tending as two key components.  COOL!

What are the words that are currently speaking to you?

How are you being invited to simple BE with that word?

What is the felt-sense you receive when allowing yourself to be present to that word?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Faith, Inspiration

Can I Get an AMEN!?

Today’s blog explores the much used, abused and in truth, neglected word, “AMEN.”  What do we mean when we say this and what can it really mean? 

Exposing my Geekdom

I have a confession to make.  I am a geek!  I pretty much meet all of the qualifications for certifiable “Geekdom.”  And maybe this isn’t a surprise, but  one thing I bet you didn’t know about my Geekdom is my complete fascination with ancient and dead languages – in particular, Sanskrit, Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin.  I have said if I had all the money and time in the world, I would go back to school and study these languages.  But here’s the real Geek confession….it is not the languages per se that fascinates me, it is the letters, the root sounds and their magical, mystical, healing, transformative powers.  Because in case you didn’t know this…..these languages ARE MAGIC!  And that goes back to my first true fantasy and first touch of geekdom – to be able to wiggle my nose, ala Samantha Stevens,  and poof make things happen.  And in case you didn’t know this….Samantha Stevens is QUEEN of the geeks!

Magical Hebrew Letters

So my dream to be able to study ancient and dead languages has begun taking root.  On a recent Amazon.com search, I found this fabulous book, The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk.  In this book, he takes each letter of the Aleph-Beis (Hebrew Alphabet) and explores the hidden, mystical, magical, spiritual significance of each letter and their connection to Jewish deed and thought.  It is a beautiful book and it is quenching my thirst for a deeper comprehension of ancient languages and their spiritual roots.

Can I Get an Amen?

Now….to the point of today’s blog!  Rabbi Munk shares his thoughts on a tiny little word that is common among the prayers of both the Hebrew and Christian traditions, and that word is AMEN.  Having been raised Catholic, I was quite familiar with this little word – it acted as a period at the end of every uttered prayer.  Whether a rote, memorized prayer like the Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary, sung at the end of the Doxology, or at the end of the intercessory prayers, Amen was the word that marked the end of our prayer intentions.  I recall being told in religious ed that “Amen” meant something like, “So be it.”  Rabbi Munk reveals a deeper, more expansive understanding of the word AMEN that has totally altered the way I will use this word in the future:

The word Amen, stems from faith or belief.  When responding, “Amen,” we must bear in mind that we are acknowledging our belief in the manifestation of God described in the blessing we have just heard.”

(The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet pg 152)

When we say, “Amen” we are saying that we BELIEVE that God is doing what the words say God is doing!  We are saying that we BELIEVE that God is answering and taking action on our prayers.   We are saying that we BELIEVE the words we are saying or the words that God is saying to us.  Amen = I BELIEVE.  To me, this is HUGE!  It is one thing to put a period or an exclamation at the end of a blessing or a prayer, but to say, “Yep, I believe this,” is not just HUGE…it is EARTH SHATTERING!   Now…let me give you some examples.

God’s Words to Me

Throughout the past year and a half of blogging, I have shared with you several mantras and words of comfort that God has given me in my prayer and in my yoga practice.  Here are some of those words:

  • You are my beloved daughter and with you I am well pleased
  • You are precious and glorious in my eyes and I love you
  • I know well the plans I have for you, plans for prosperity and not for woe
  • Say yes to what God gives you
  • You are a vessel through which love is known in this place
  • You are worthy of love and belonging
  • The word is CHOOSE
  • Grow up
  • You know who you are, you know what you want
  • Be open to receive all the love the universe wants to give you 

I have taken these words to heart…..and they have been a profound source of comfort and help when I needed them.  But upon reading Rabbi Munk’s words, these words take on a whole new meaning.  To all of the above……I now add a big, huge AMEN!  In other words, I don’t just hear these words, I am being invited to BELIEVE them……to believe in prosperity, in love, in abundance, in openness, to belonging, to knowing, to receiving, etc. etc. etc. and to know that God is actually DOING what all of these words of comfort and support suggest.   So to prosperity…I say AMEN!  To knowing all my needs are abundantly met….I say AMEN!  To all the love of the universe, I say Amen…..You get the idea! And indulging my geek fantasies, when I say AMEN, I imagine God as Samantha Stevens, wiggling her nose and making it so!  Now it is your turn:

To what are you being invited to say AMEN?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com