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Divinity And Humanity Essay, Research Paper
Divinity and Humanity
A fundamental question that has had philosophers and theologians puzzled for ages is
exactly how we relate to our higher power. The search for this answer is so important to us
because once it is known, we will all know how to better serve God and be righteous. With this
knowledge, we will also attain a better understanding of the universe we live in and our exact
place therein. There have been many interpretations taken from the Bible of what exactly the
right answer is. Two different, conflicting viewpoints can easily be drawn from Genesis and The
Book of Job regarding the relationship between God and human beings.
In Genesis, God is presented as a superior being who s relationship with the human beings
that he created is similar to a friendship. You pat my back, I ll pat yours is an underlying theme
in many of the covenants and promises that he makes with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and other
humans. By making covenants with humans, God essentially provides a framework from which
people can easily understand how to lead a just life. To begin with, Genesis presents the story of
Adam and Eve, who are given life in paradise on the one sole condition that they do not eat from
the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When they break the one rule with which they were
presented, God employs his sense of justice and banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of
Eden. With this, it is shown that God employs a system of actions based on set conditions. This
is a very direct, logical relationship on both sides.
While God shows his sense of justice by banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of
Eden, he also exhibits his ability to follow through with his promises of blessings in the story of
the Great Flood. God tells Noah Go into the ark, you and all your household; for you alone in
this generation have I found to be righteous. (Gen 7:1). Noah follows God s orders exactly, to
ensure that life on earth would continue, but that generation of people, who were extremely
corrupt, would not survive. After Noah goes through all the hardship of essentially keeping life
on earth, God blesses him and his family and promises that he will never flood the earth again.
This is the other side of God s justice presented in Genesis; when human beings follow God and
his orders, they are rewarded greatly.
God makes a similar covenant with Abraham. Abraham also follows God s exact orders
by bringing him sacrifices when he is told, leaving his home country, and even gets ready to
present his own son as a sacrifice to God. This last event is referred to as a test to prove his
faith. Abraham comes so close as to strap his son to an altar and reach for his dagger, when the
Lord stops him. In exchange for his unfaltering dedication to the Lord, Abraham is promised to
have descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. This relationship is the definition of a
good friendship. Friends have faith in each other and do whatever they can for each other.
Abraham constantly proves how much he is dedicated to the Lord and God in return blesses
future generations to descend from Abraham. There is a complete understanding on both sides of
this relationship. It makes sense that God would understand the relationship, since he is portrayed
as omniscient. But Abraham, as a human, understands that by putting his faith into God, he will
be rewarded in a just manner. He completely understands God s sense of justice and therefore
will follow him.
This is much different from the relationship portrayed in the book of Job. Job, like
Abraham, was a devout follower of the Lord, doing all that he could to lead a righteous life. In
his understanding, by following God, he should be blessed because of God s sense of justice. The
Lord even says to the Adversary that, You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless
and upright life, who fears God and sets his face against wrongdoing. (Job 1:8). But when God
is presented with the idea that even the most devoted follower of God only practices such
devotion out of only selfish motives, Job is put through many tests as well. These tests are not
at all like those presented to Abraham. While Job started out very prosperous, having many sons
and daughters, thousands of sheep, camels, and oxen, all of these are taken from him by either
fire, thieves, or catastrophes. When this happens, Job takes all of it calmly, saying, The Lord
giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21). After this test,
the Adversary still suggests that the same motives are influencing Job; promises of splendor and
self-indulgence. After this, the Lord plagued Job with painful sores on his feet, making his pain
more physical than mental. Job s wife asks him after this, Why do you still hold fast to your
integrity? Curse God and die! (Job 2:9). At first, Job verbally attacks his wife, and refuses to let
go of his faith. After a week, however, Job gets so upset with his situation, that he does decide to
curse the name of the Lord and regret his birth vehemently. Three of his friends ask him why he
has changed his mind so drastically. Job in turn questions the nature of God, who has acted so
bizarrely towards him after Job served Him so greatly. Job replies to the questions of his peers by
cursing God and saying things like, I swear by the living God, who has denied me justice, by the
Almighty, who has filled me with bitterness, that so long as there is any life left in me and the
breath of God is in my nostrils, no untrue word will pass my lips. . . I shall not abandon my claim
of innocence. (Job 27:2-5).
The passages of questioning and speeches by Job and his friends is followed by God s
answer to Job, which is full of elaborate poetry describing the awesome power and unfathomable
wisdom of God. God explains to Job through these exquisite words that he should not even try
to understand his motives, because they are impossible to understand. God questions Job, asking
things like, Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades or loose Orion s belt? Can you bring out the
signs of the zodiac in their season or guide Aldebaran and its satellite stars? (Job 38:31-32) and
Have you an arm like God s arm; can you thunder with a voice like his? (Job 40:9). These
questions serve like the popular catch phrase of modern culture: Don t judge a man until you
have walked a mile in his shoes. Yet this form of that statement goes far beyond that of human
comprehension. It is quite impossible for any human to pass judgment upon God, for no one has
ever created the universe. Job finally realizes this and submits to God that he has done wrong in
trying to comprehend what has compelled God to issue such misfortune upon him. The Lord
gives and takes away, but in a manner which we cannot understand.
The story of Job is followed by an epilogue, which contradicts the moral that the story
presents. Job s fortune is restored entirely and he is essentially redeemed. This restores the point
established in Genesis; the friendship between God and humankind. If this were part of the
original biblical text, it definitely does not fit within the context of Job. It makes little sense that
God would put Job through so much in order to establish that his motives cannot be understood,
only to restore things as they were beforehand, essentially wiping out all of his efforts.
So which of these two accounts are we to believe truly accounts for the relationship
between God and humanity? Does God truly work in mysterious ways, accounting for tragedies
presented daily on the evening news like famine, warfare, and natural disasters? Perhaps these
tragedies may not lie within our definition of a just and fair God, but perhaps the notion of justice
cannot be applied to God, as is presented in the book of Job. It is much easier to comprehend a
God who is benevolent, who rewards those who place their faith in Him. This is the view which
receives more focus in today s religion. Some people believe that if they strictly follow what they
see in the Bible and only engage in behavior that it describes, they will be rewarded both in this
life and perhaps the next. If this was not the case, there would be perhaps no point to saying
prayers, observing the Sabbath, or obeying the Ten Commandments, for if atrocities can happen
to those who do these things while criminals and those devoid of compassion live lives full of
luxury and happiness, some might say there is no point in it.
Perhaps people should not concern themselves with how they relate to God, but rather be
more concerned with how they relate to others in this life. While it would be very helpful for
many to find this answer which has been so unclear throughout history, it is quite possible that it
cannot be understood. People should maybe focus more on their friendships on earth, which can
be just as rewarding, both spiritually and physically, as their relationship with God, who s
existence is mysterious and incomprehensible, while the existence of others is much easier to
relate to and understand.
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