“The theology of fate knows only a one-sided dependence upon the ultimate power. That power has neither concern for man nor need of him.”
In Chapter 6 of God in Search of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel discusses why The Enigma is Not Solved. Read related posts in this series; Being is Mysterious, A Legacy of Wonder, The Sublime, Ways to His Presence, Philosophy and Religion and God in Search of Man Part I.
“He lowered heaven and came down with thick darkness under his feet. 10 He rode on a keruv; he flew, swooping down on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his hiding-place, his canopy thick clouds dark with water. 12 From the brightness before him, there broke through his thick clouds hailstones and fiery coals.” (Psalm 18:9-12)
Oftentimes God is hidden. As the Psalmist quoted above says “He made darkness His hiding place”. “Where can God be found when disaster strikes?” asks not only the scoffer but also the grieving mother, father, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, community or even country after the unexplainable loss of a loved one or the unimaginable loss of thousands upon thousands of loved ones due to a circumstance deemed “an act of God”. The reality of nature’s destruction and history’s lack of compassion is a stumbling block for many people seeking answers to universal mysteries. Yet Heschel says “The extreme hiddeness of God is a fact of constant awareness”.
“God thunders wonderfully with his voice, he does great things beyond our understanding.” (Job 37:5)
Scripture, along with the Biblical man is not silent on these matters. Both Scripture and the Biblical man agree that God is hard to find sometimes and that He offers answers that are beyond our capacity of comprehension. But what about God’s perfect justice and righteousness? The skeptic might also ask “if His judgment is true, then why all of the innocent suffering?”.
“Wake up, Adonai! Why are you asleep? Rouse yourself! Don’t thrust us off forever. 24 Why are you turning your face away, forgetting our pain and misery?” (Psalm 44:23-24)
“For God is in heaven, and you are on earth; so let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
The verse’s above are good places to start in answering the above questions. For starters, we have a very finite perspective on why things happen the way they do. To put it simply, our lack of ultimate perspective and knowledge should cause all of us to pause when making determinations of God’s perceived inconsistent attributes, as well as declarations of God’s lack of existence.
Heschel talks about God’s mercy beyond the mystery and circumstances of this world. God’s concern, guidance, will, and commandments are all revealed to man through His Word (Scripture) and capable of being experienced by him. Heschel says that man “is called to responsible living and to be a partner of God in the redemption of the world”. In Judaism this is called “tikkun o’lam” which is “repairing the world“.
Heschel brings up two events in Israel’s experience to show that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is unique in comparison to all of the other so-called gods that have been presented through-out the history of the world:
- When God descended upon Mount Sinai and His voice spoke clearly to all the people what did it disclose? The mysteries and enigmas of the universe? No. The condition of departed souls? No. Information about demons, angels or heaven? No. When the voice of God became audible it said: Remember the Sabbath…..Honor your Father and Mother…….Don’t murder, steal, cheat or lie….
- When Moses asked God to reveal to him who He was, did He say? I am the all-wise, perfect and most beautiful? No. He said I am full of love and compassion……..Where in the history of religion prior to God’s revelation to Moses, was the Supreme Being celebrated for His being sensitive to the suffering of man?
In Judaism, history with all of its ups and downs, joy and suffering, is determined by the covenant: God desires relationship with man. The ultimate is not the Law but the Judge over the Law, not an arbitrary power figure but a fair and just Father.
“The ideas of religion are an answer, when the mystery is a problem…….the certainty that there is meaning beyond the mystery is the reason for ultimate rejoicing”.
May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!