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In the ancient world, people used to worship powers. The sun was very powerful, so they worshiped the sun. Wind can be very destructive, so they worshiped the wind. Rain and water floods and could cause great damage, so they worshiped water. It did not take long to figure out that these gods, who manifested these powers, did not have much of a personality. These gods do not make deals, promises, or oaths. These gods do not even talk to people. And why would they want to make deals with inferiors?
When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush the first thing God did was he introduced himself: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” What does that mean? God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So this is my question: Why would God make promises? Let’s say you wake up in the morning and tell your kids that you will take them for ice cream at night. You come home from work, and you had a very hard day. Just when you sit in your La-Z-Boy, just when as you get comfortable, the kids come over and say to you. “Ice cream, you promised.” So you think to yourself, “Why did I do that? Why did I make a promise?” The reason is simple. When you promised your kids ice cream, you gave them a reason to get excited when you came home, you gave them a reason come to you when you got home from work, you gave them a reason to talk to you, you gave them a reason to want to be with you. That is why God makes promises to us.

Later in Exodus, God wanted to meet Moses at the top of the mountain. Moses has to bring the two tables with him. I can picture Moses with his long white beard putting these two large, heavy stones in his backpack and climbing up a steep mountain in the middle of the desert. He was probably thinking why they could not meet at the Top of the Hub with air-conditioning and an elevator. Meanwhile, it says that God is floating down from heaven in a cloud. They finally meet face to face and God announces to Moses that he is slow to anger and rich in kindness and compassion. Why would God reveal His true personality to Moses and the Israelites. To give the Israelites, who are flawed and imperfect, a reason to want to be with a God who is slow to anger and rich in kindness. 

Remember the story of Job. The narrative begins in God’s high court. The prosecuting attorney tells God that no one likes Him. God says, “Job likes me.” The prosecuting attorney responded, “That is because you give him everything. Take away everything and he will no longer like you.” So God gives the prosecuting attorney permission to take away everything. Job continues to be faithful to God but he is upset. So he files a lawsuit against God. Job wants his stuff back. So God sent a whirlwind, and Job was lifted up into the divine courthouse. God said to Job before you present your case against me, I first want to thank you, Job, for advising me on the creation of the universe. Thank you for letting me know how many gallons of water I needed to fill the ocean. Thank you for figuring out how to get the birds to fly. Your suggestion about the wings was a great idea. And thank you for telling me how many pounds of rock I needed to build the Himalayas. Boy, was that a back-breaker, but thank you for helping move all those rocks. And thank you for helping me pick out all the colors in last night’s sunset. I got a lot of “likes” and some new subscribers. And God took Job and showed him the beauty and the grandeur of His creation. He also showed him the viruses, the thunderstorms that delay our flights, and every biting mosquitoes. God’s point is simple. God did not create the universe so that we could enjoy perfection. He made the world so that we could have a relationship with God.

Sometimes we forget that God made promises. The promises give us a reason to turn to God especially when we face an imperfect world. 

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