Photo by Cubosh
Numbers 14 allows us to meet the short-tempered god once again. Feeling betrayed by the Children of Israel ,who once again doubted their escape from Egypt, god offers Moses to destroy the ungrateful Children of Israel and raise a new people from the Moses’ seed. Moses, who has already accumulated quite an experience with appeasing the ill-tempered god, offers two reasons why god should not act this way:
- What will the people of the region, once they hear about the god who took the Children of Israel out of Egypt, just to kill them in the desert, say? They will say that this is because god is not powerful enough to lead them to their promised land.
- God is abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression. While this does not mean all guilty should be cleared, god employ some of this lovingkindness and forgive them.
Which of these explanations convince god?
Well, you can argue with me, but I think god chooses option number two.
And if that is indeed true, I find that comforting. Not because I believe there is omnipotent being which is compassionate, but because it tells us a story about what the motives for our decisions should be.
I know this is a daily struggle for me and I am sure you have some of the same doubts. Why do we care what other people think about us? Why do we base so many of our decisions on what others will think? We can’t really control what they think; if they don’t like us they will probably think bad things about us no matter what we do they don’t have to live our lives, we do. So why?
I see this story as a reminder that in the choice between appeasing others and going with our principles, beliefs and morals, we should always choose our own reasons. If it will make people think better of us, well, that might be a nice bonus. I am not sure having people think better of us is a worthy goal. However, if believe it is, you might want to consider it to be one of those goals that are best achieved indirectly. Keeping to your own principles, acting like a human being, showing strength and discipline with compassion, caring and love, is a better way to earn long-term respect of others, then actually doing what they think you should do.