Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hostility and Fury, Week Two_B: Josiah’s death, Pashur’s confrontation, and the linen belt

If you remember we spoke last week about the fact that all the other prophets and priests in the book of Jeremiah being ‘gladhanders’ and ‘happytalkers.’ They all seemed to be more concerned with glossing over the tricky bits of life and less concerned with accurately representing God to the people.

One particularly bad egg, Pashur, found out that Jeremiah was bucking the trend and preaching ‘doom and gloom’ and had him locked up into a bit and left their to rot overnight. When Jeremiah was released in the morning by court officials, he sought out Pashur, rebuking and cursing him for his wickedness and falsehood.

God cannot stand Pashur’s duplicity, and so neither can Jeremiah; but the reason for their mutual disgust with Pashur has to do with the misrepresentation of YHWH.

If there’s one thing that God will not abide, it is someone who claims to speak on His behalf and then doesn’t. Whether it’s the Pharisees in Jesus’ day or the false teachers in the book of Jude, or the corrupt sons of Eli, God is infuriated by these men and their propensity to lie on His behalf.

And this is why we’ve chosen the tetragrammaton – or, 4 letters – as our next symbol. This is the Hebrew transliteration of the unpronounceable name of God, from which we derive the english letters YHWH, which are then pronounced YaHWeH. Throughout the history of the Jewish people, this name has been considered so holy – so separate and otherworldy, supernatural and awesome – that to even write it would be considered taboo and a violation of the holiness of God.

In kabbala it is said that the tetragrammaton was The Word spoken at creation, and that if any person could pronounce it again Creation would be unmade.

It is a symbol for how incomprehensible the infite God is to finite humanity, and how intolerant He is of our attempts to reduce Him to a brandname or a byproduct, a justification for behavior or a motivation for hatred.

It is this name, this symbol, that represents for us why God’s nature cannot stand Pashur and all those like him today.

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