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The Reinforcement of Separation

The separation between God and people was born at the very beginning of the existence of human beings. Chapters 1-3 of the book of Genesis illustrate the famous Creation account where the idea of separation was first established. From this point and further in the Old Testament, this idea was even more reinforced. The strongest proofs of division between God and people are found in the stories about God’s choice of Abraham to form a chosen nation, God’s exclusive defense of his special people in Egypt, God’s support of Israel‘s holy war against the inhabitants of Palestine, and God’s ultimate revenge on Israel‘s enemies at the end of all time.

The separation idea is based mostly on division of all the people by God into two groups – “insiders” (chosen or special) and “outsiders” (not chosen). In Gen. 4 God likes Abel more than Cain and this is because Abel brought God “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock” (Gen. 4:4) as an offering while Cain brought him some fruits. It follows that God likes fat that is the flesh of an animal. But to get this fat somebody must kill an animal. It means that God needs death and pain (sacrifice). When God showed preference to Abel’s offering, he treated Cain unfairly. This situation created a feeling of jealousy and separation which in its turn served as an incentive for Cain to kill his brother. It looks like God is guilty for everything that happened because he showed a special love.

In Gen. 12 God makes a great choice – he chooses Abraham in order to create a chosen nation through him. First God makes Abraham leave his country and people (God separates him from others), then God blesses him and all his descendants, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you… and all peoples on earth will be blesses through you” (Gen. 12:2-3). Again God shows preference to one person and one nation over others. God doesn’t explain why he likes one people and hates others. It is a sign of his capriciousness and ego. It is very similar to that how people now choose friends to support their ego. God promises Abraham to make his name famous (Gen. 12:2) but the whole sense lies in such words, “I’ll make your name famous, because you’re going to be my guy. You’ll go to other places and tell about me”. This is exactly how God supports his ego. In Gen. 12:7 God promises that he will give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants (so that Israel could feel superiority to Canaanites). When Abraham comes to Egypt (Gen 12:14), he says that his wife Sarah is just his sister. Pharaoh takes her in his palace as a wife and Abraham acquires a lot of stuff (Gen 12:16). But God punishes Pharaoh and his household because of Sarah (Gen. 12-17). If to think logically, Pharaoh is not guilty at all. It is only Abraham who is really guilty for this because he himself said that Sarah was just his sister. It follows that God anyway cares about chosen people only, since he punished Pharaoh instead of Abraham.

In Gen. 15:18 God makes a covenant with Abraham and promises that his nation will be superior to others, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites…” Chapter 17 is a priestly account of God’s covenant with Abraham. Here there is one more proof that God chooses favorites to satisfy his ego, “The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I’ll give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD” (Gen. 17:8). God also establishes a sign of covenant – every man must be circumcised (Gen 17:9-14). Again it proves that God needs pain of sacrifice. Everything involved in pleasure must feel pain.

God expects Abraham to do what is right and just (Gen 18:19). It follows that God knows exactly what it means to be just and righteous. So, there is a paradox – justice stands for equal treatment or fairness, but God doesn’t treat all people equally; instead of this he chooses favorites.

Chapter 22 illustrates how Abraham is tested by God. At that moment Abraham has two sons – Ishmael (son of Hagar, Egyptian servant) and Isaac (son of Sarah). God promised that the chosen nation will come from Sarah that is from Isaac (Gen 17:16). It means that Isaac is “inside” a special group while Ishmael is “outside” (God again makes an exclusive choice and separates people). So, God decides to test Abraham and commands him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22:2). When Abraham is already about to slaughter Isaac, God stops him (Gen 22:12). God just wanted to see if Abraham FEARS him, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son” (fear creates separation). God doesn’t let Abraham kill his own son, but Abraham sees a ram that was stuck in the bush by its horns (Gen 22:13), so he takes it and sacrifices instead of his son. It follows that something must die anyway because God needs pain. God tested Abraham because the death of son must have caused guilt, and guilt entails the fear before God. God wanted to see this. It looks like God doesn’t want people to be happy. He just wants to satisfy his ego. As soon as they feel happy, a fear to lose it appears. People think that God is angry at them and they try to smooth his anger by their own pain. That’s why there is an idea that to satisfy God one must take a thing he or she loves the most and destroy it (the same idea is seen in Ex.13:12 – “every firstborn belongs to God”).

Chapter 25 tells about a birth of Isaac’s sons – Esau and Jacob. Esau has a birthright because he is elder son. It means that he is blessed and is “inside” of a special group, while Jacob believes that he is “outside”. Jacob wants to obtain blessing in order to get to “insiders”, that’s why he makes a trick on his brother Esau so that Esau sells Jacob his birthright (Gen 25:29-34). Blessing is based on the fear of being “outside”. Then Jacob deceives his father in order to take blessing (Gen 27:14-29). Jacob cares neither about respect to God, nor about faith (Gen 27:20). The only thing he cares about is blessing. When Esau realizes that he is cheated and deprived of his blessing, he gets angry at Jacob and decides to kill him: “The days for mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob (Gen 27:41). It proves again that special love creates jealousy and attack which reinforces the separation from God.

Having being in fear to be killed by Esau, Jacob flees to Laban, his mother’s brother, and gets married to his daughters (Gen 29). Gen. 30:27 points out the idea that Laban thinks that he got blessing only because God blessed Jacob, so it looks like everyone in the story of Jacob wants blessing (to be “inside”). In Genesis 30:29-43 Jacob fools Laban and gets rich at the expense of Laban’s wealth. Then Jacob flees with all he had to the land of his father (Gen 31:21), but he fears to meet Esau, so, he sends messengers to his brother and instructs them to tell, “Your servant Jacob says…Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes” (Gen. 32:4-5). It contradicts to what Isaac said to Esau in Gen. 27:40, “…you will serve to your brother”. Here Jacob calls himself servant. There is a direct correspondence between attack and fear of attack. Jacob cheated his brother and now expects to be punished. He is in constant fear. Jacob is weak because he is always trying to solve problems for himself (by cheating his brother, father, and brother-in-law). In Gen. 32:22-29 Jacob has a dream as if he was struggling with God (but it probably was the angel of death). In this dream Jacob also needs blessing (Gen. 32:26). In chapter 33 Esau meets Jacob and embraces him. He has already forgiven his younger brother but Jacob continues to fear Esau and waits for attack from him (Gen.33:12-17). This fear of attack creates separation.

In Exodus 3 God again makes a choice. He chooses Moses to bring Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Ex. 3:7-10). God doesn’t want to be as close to his chosen one as previously, he wants to be holy, “Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5). There is the idea that God is too perfect to even be close to him. God has never done this to Abraham. Here the separation is even more reinforced. God points out that Israel is his “firstborn son” (chosen nation which got blessing) (Ex.4:22). He hurts Egyptians with 10 torments (plagues). Moreover, when God is sending plagues on Egypt, he by himself doesn’t let Pharaoh allow Israelites to go: “But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21). The same idea is found in Exodus 7:3; 9:12; 10:20; 10:27. In Exodus 6:6-8 God stresses that HE is the Lord of his chosen nation, that HE will bring them out of Egypt, and that HE will give them a promised land. Other references to this idea can be found in Ex. 7:17; 10:2. God really cares about his ego. In Ex. 8:22 God avowedly makes a distinction between “his” people and Egyptians: “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there…” (the same distinction God makes in Ex. 9:4; 9:26; 10:1). In Ex. 9:13 God calls himself God of Hebrews only. It follows that God sent all the plagues on Egyptians just to show how powerful he is. He himself set up that situation with Pharaoh and plagues to make Israel fear (Ex. 9:30) and exalt him (Ex. 9:16), thus satisfying his ego. All this stands for the idea of separation model.

Chapter 11 accounts for the last plague – killing firstborns by Yahweh. Again God divides between Egypt and Israel (Ex. 11:7) and hardens Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 11:9-10). He commands Israelites to slaughter a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorframes of their houses to be protected from God passing by at night and killing firstborns (Ex.12:3-7, 12-13). It means that blood is what God needs to see in order not to kill. God calls this day Lord’s Passover and tells Israel people to commemorate this day (Ex.12:14). If to think more deeply about what Passover actually celebrates, one may conclude that this is the celebration of separation between God and all the mankind. It celebrates the fact that God makes a distinction (separation) between Israel and Egypt (God kills the Egyptian firstborns only but doesn’t touch Israelites), and it also celebrates the separation between God and his people. The second conclusion is based on the fact that God establishes Passover rules and restrictions (laws of separation) that must be kept by Hebrews (Ex. 12:15-20, 43-50). These rules and restrictions entail a due to follow them because in opposite case God might get angry. It follows that as soon as God set up these rules, fear to break them appeared, and fear gives rise to separation. Chapter 13 points out that Hebrews must consecrate all the human and animal firstborn males to God (Ex. 13:2, 12), but it also says that it is possible to sacrifice a lamb instead of other firstborn animal or son. It means that substitution is acceptable but something must die anyway. God needs death. God also wants people to always remember how he brought them out of Egypt (it is the voice of ego) (Ex. 12:14-16). In chapter 14 also there are evidences about complete separation between God and all the people. God wants to gain more glory and hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that Egyptians start pursuing Hebrews (ex. 14:3-9, 17). God saves Israelites and sinks a whole Egyptian army in Red Sea (Ex. 14:21-27). Israelites saw what God did and feared him (Ex. 14:31). God destroyed one nation to save another one (separation between nations) and wanted “his own” nation to fear and exalt him (the voice of ego – separation with his chosen people).

In Ex. 19:4 God again reminds Israel about what he did to them in Egypt. God decides to speak to people by himself. He did it previously in Genesis, but it was completely different: he was walking along the people who were not afraid of God’s presence. Here in Exodus, people must be completely clean just to hear the voice of God (Ex. 19:9-10), and they must not even approach the mountain Sinai that God is going to speak from because even if they only touch it, they should die: “Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death” (Ex. 19:12). It looks like God gets a little scare of a big nearly uncontrollable crowd. In Ex. 19:20-24 God points out once more that everyone around the mountain, including priests, must be perfectly clean and must not try to see God’ face. This is how God separates himself from his chosen people. In chapter 20 God gives people the Ten Commandments. First God again reminds Israelites that HE brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 20-2). Two first commandments are about the exclusive worship to God, “You shall have no other gods before me (Ex. 20:3). You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:4-5). Jealousy is all about exclusive contact. God takes exclusive worship of people, and this is the projection of ego which always gets one to take something of somebody. If the ego is present, there cannot be any unity with God. The idea of Ex. 20:20 is that God came to people to put them into fear and to make them follow the commandments including the exclusive worship.

In chapter 32 Israelites created a golden idol in the image of calf, because they saw that “Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain” (Ex. 32:1). Then God says to Moses: “Go down, because YOUR people, whom YOU brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.” (Ex. 32:7). God always emphasizes that it is he and only he who brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery. It was until Israel had been showing fear before God. As soon as they turned away from God, God turned away from them because this stopped bringing him glory and the exclusive worship went away (it is the projection of ego). Moses comes down of the mountain and finds that only Levites are for God (Ex. 32:26). Then Moses commands them to kill other people in the camp (Ex. 32: 27-28). Levites get blessing in the exchange for death of people who dared to worship somebody else but God (Ex. 32-29). The idea is that everyone who sins against God deserves to death. Here God steps over death of his chosen people just to satisfy his ego.

The book of Leviticus is the account of practical separation model in daily life. Leviticus 16 is all about a process of how Israelites must cleanse themselves. The reason why they should do this is that God is perfectly holy, that’s why everyone must be “holy” as well: “I’m the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt TO BE YOUR GOD (ego voice); therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45) . Exactly the same idea can be found in Lev. 19:2. In Lev. 15:31 there is more clear idea why people must be clean: “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them”. God’s dwelling place (or Tabernacle) is also called the Most Holy Place because God is present there. So, no one unclean can get to the place of God’s presence because he or she will die for defiling the Most Holy Place of the Most Holy God. Strong separation between God and people is felt here. Lev. 16 thoroughly describes all the steps of purification. First it tells that only priest has a right to enter the Most Holy Place. It looks like other people are unworthy of being close to God. A process of purification is based on the sacrifice of animals, “He [Aaron] must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering” (Lev. 16:3) and using their blood, “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it” (Lev. 16:15). In other words, one necessarily must kill something to cleanse oneself. This stands for the idea that God needs to see blood in order not to kill (it is a reference to Passover), namely God needs death (when people think this way, they are separated from God, because real God cannot be that way).

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 4, 5 contain the reasons or incentives for following the law established by God. In Lev. 26 the first incentive for following the law is blessing. It is said that if people keep what God commanded them, they will get a lot of stuff and God will be favorably inclined toward them (Lev. 26:4-13). The second reason for keeping the law is just to stay alive, because God will punish people severely, if they disobey him (Lev 26:14-45). The conclusion is that God keeps people in the state of fear: obey or die! Fear reinforces separation. In Deut. 4: 5-8 God says, “Observe them [laws] carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?..” It follows that Israelites must follow the law to show how special they are. In other words they must feel special because no other country has such a god as Yahweh. Making such a distinction, God separates himself from other nations. In Deut. 4:15-39 and Deut. 6 God separates himself from the people of Israel. God points out that he needs an exclusive worship (for ex. Deut 4:23, 35 and Deut 6:14-15). To love God here means to fear him (Deut. 6:2, 13, 24), so the incentive to do what God says can be only a desire to stay alive (Deut 6:24).

The book of Leviticus conveys the ideas how people should keep themselves clean, and the book of Deuteronomy stresses the importance to keep a whole community of Israel clean of corrupt elements. This cleanness is also referred to the fact that God is perfect (holy) and that’s why everyone must also be perfect (it is the reflection of separation idea). People who break the law of God must be taken out from among righteous Israelites. Purging of evil people is the equivalent to the destruction of these people, so Israel will get afraid of doing detestable things and a whole society can be clean. The references to fact of purging evil are found in Deut. 13:1-5, 6-11; 17:2-7, 8-13; 21:18-21; 22:13-21, 22, 23. Also it is said in Deut. 4:3, “The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.” It means that God purged disobedient people from the Israelites. The idea of purging evil makes people live with their neighbors in a constant state of fear looking for somebody else’s guilt. It also reinforces separation between people and God.

In Deut. 7, 13; Joshua 6, 7; and 1 Sam. 15 one can observe how God makes Israel totally destroy the entire nations (“holy war”). The reason for this is the same idea of cleaning but only outside of Israel (it’s additionally to internal cleaning within the people of Israel). According to such a reasoning, other nations except Israel are unclean and everything that belongs to them is unclean as well (God separates himself from the rest of mankind). Outsiders must be destroyed in order not to contaminate “chosen people.” Deut. 7:3-6 tells that Israel must show no pity to condemned nations (also in Deut. 13:15, Joshua 6:21, and 1 Sam 15:3) and how exactly they must treat other nations not to get contaminated from them. There is the idea here that everything which is devoted to destruction must not be taken by Israelites because it is detestable and will make them dirty so that they will become subject to destruction as well as their enemies (Deut 7:25-26; Joshua 6:18-19). There is the similar idea of total destruction (Herem), but of Israel towns, is found in Deut. 13:12-18. It means that even if people of any Israel town become corrupt, they are to be destroyed and nothing which belongs to them must be taken. In Joshua 7 Achan, one of the Israelites takes some stuff that belonged to people of Jericho, thus, making Israelites contaminated and liable to destruction (Joshua 7:12). Here God cares about cleanness of his nation (it is again the separation idea) and he will destroy everyone who may contaminate his people (Joshua 7:25). In 1 Sam there is the same situation with Saul who also takes what he must not take, and God rejects him as a king for his disobedience (1 Sam. 15:22).

According to OT’s authors, the main purpose of Day of the Lord is REVENGE. This idea comes from the fact that Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel were destroyed in 722 and 586 BCE respectively by Babylon, and the only thing Israel wanted was to take revenge. When people cannot avenge by themselves, they pray God (Ps. 137). That’s why the main theme of the day of the Lord is that how God avenges his nation. God will come to destroy, “For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15). But if the nation of Israel returns to God, it will be blessed (Joel 2:18-27; 3:17-21) while other nations will be judged (Joel 3). God will bless and destroy to show that he is God of Israel only (Joel: 2-27; 3:16-17). Even in the day of the Lord, God makes a division between Israel and other nations. The book of Nahum is about that how God will destroy Nineveh, a capital of Assyria, and again God just avenges his chosen nation, “Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed” (Nahum 1:15). In the book of Zephaniah the day of the Lord is presented as DIES IRAE (the day of God’s wrath), “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth… (Zephaniah 1:2) I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem” (Zephaniah 1:4). It follows that God will also destroy Israelites who disobeyed him. He will sweep away all the enemies of Israel (Zephaniah 2:4-15) but will leave some righteous Israelites alive and restore a nation through them (Zephaniah 3:9-20), so God continues to show an exclusive love. In Isaiah 66:15-19 God will be killing so that others could see his glory (ego projection – separation) and in 14 God will become king over the earth (king rules through fear and is separated from people physically and spiritually).

The separation model brought a lot of violence in our world. The most vivid example would be World War II during which perished millions of people just because Germany proclaimed itself a chosen nation and decided to invade the whole earth. There is the well-known fact that Germans had been trying to exterminate all Hebrews from every territory they occupied. It was a destruction of one “chosen nation” by other. This is one of the most dreadful results of separation model which stresses the idea of exclusiveness.

The Christian church stands on the ideas which come from the OT. It especially points out the ideas which are the components of separation model. According to church, people must fear God, they must humiliate themselves before God (for ex. a woman must tie a kerchief round her head and must not smile when she is inside a church), they must keep themselves from sexual relations before marriage, etc. Establishing these meaningless laws, a church only puts pressure on society which leads to the fact that nowadays society turns away from real God more and more. Psychologically people don’t want to accept “God from the OT”, but also they are not trying to find real God. The spiritual result is that they don’t have God inside at all. It means that it is not a mind of God that will accompany people through their life, but a voice of ego. Ego leads to appearance of enemies and feverish fear for one’s body. This in its turn causes violence within and out of society.

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