I quoted from the Bible’s book called “Exodus” only yesterday – here’s a bit again from the 10 commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below…”
It’s hard to see what this might mean in modern times. We try to turn it into idolising things like wealth, fame, or work, and I’m sure that these are things we need to be careful not to become the focus of our lives, but somehow it doesn’t quite seem the same. These don’t feel like Gods somehow.
There are people out there that really do have other “Gods”. Maybe they worship mother earth, or the rain gods, or the sun gods. Lots of gods have been created to symbolise things that we can’t control and people ask them to control the things that we can’t control. If I sacrifice a lamb to the rain God maybe he will send the rain we need for our crops? Is our scorching weather and drought because I’ve been a bad person and the weather Gods are looking down on me
As a new gardener lots of things start to take over your life. Weather is one of them. And it’s getting personal! Who’s in control of all this, and how do I get them to send the weather I need?!
It’s annoying when it doesn’t rain. I fear drought and our one 120l water butt will only last us a week or so. But it’s also annoying when it’s cold, or cloudy. Our plants love water, but they love heat and light too.
Gardening really puts you in a position where you depend on the weather. And it feels sometimes like it’s having a go at you. I can clearly see how people saw drought and floods as punishment, prayed for rain, or for it to stop raining. I can understand the anthropomorphisation of nature. I can understand the relationship that people have had with the elements.
I can understand why these people had weather Gods, and that, somehow, makes the commandment all the more powerful.
I’m not a 7-day creationist, but I love the imagery of the creation story in the book of Genesis in the Bible. A book which clearly asserts that God, the God of Israel, and now the God of the world, made everything and has it all in his hands. I love the little details intended to dispell the myths of other Gods, such as the storytellers throwaway comment that “He also made the stars” (Gen 1:16) – you know, just while He was at it, might as well make a few little stars too.
And Jesus confirms both his deity and his power over nature in the calming of the storm and other such miracles.
So, I have a new understanding of other Gods. But I also have a continued faith in the one true God.