By Tammy Swofford
March 22, 2013
How can God be reduced to eschatology? He is a state of being, our historical past, present and future all rolled up in one
It was perhaps the third generation after the flood that God began to be weary of the counsel of men. The rainbow had been placed across the sky sill as a sign of covenant. The earth would never again suffer a deluge of annihilating proportions. He was bound by His Word. It was no less a boundary than that placed on the planets when they were spoken into existence and placed within their orbital tracks.
The eye of the Unseen began to scan the face of the earth. From the surface He examined a wedge. Sending a stream of warm air He caused the earth to heave and convulse. He continued to direct the wind across the flat plains. Towering mountains appeared. Casting His gaze to unknown galaxy He commanded the storehouses of ice and snow to open their portals to the sound of his voice. He plunged His hand deeply into the diamond-cut creation and scattered the treasure across the peaks. Marshalling the stars, He arrayed the night with their adornment and commanded them to sing of His infinite greatness. Their mathematical mystery remains an unbreakable code, which declares His domain.
Reaching into the earth beneath the mountains, God deposited great stores of copper and silver as a hidden sign of His majesty. They were also placed as a reminder of the greed of man.
Commanding the lightning to strike its mark He created paths for the rivers, which would flow through this beautiful land. The finger of God then scooped out valleys and pastures nestled within the crags of the rocks. Calling forth life, kind after kind, He caused nomadic herds to begin to graze within the meadows. Speckled goats and long-eared goats. Sheep. Cattle to consume and animals to bear the hardships of whip-driven labour began to populate the landscape. Creation is math. But creation is also poetry and music. This nomadic music, akin to the tentative sounds of a child attempting his first notes on an alto saxophone.
The artistry of God scattered colours across the meadows and hills. When gifts are given, they are generous and with complete liberality. So it was not only the flowers that displayed an array of light’s wavelengths. But the wings of birds and insects are also gifted with art. Dragonflies glint like emeralds. Grasshoppers wear jackets of jade, ochre, with speckles of black onyx. The soil and outcroppings are also a sardonyx mix of colour. But most of all, God’s artistry is seen in the form of men.
The face of a weather-beaten rock was chosen. God created a people to inhabit this land. They would be like the stone from which they were hewn. Unyielding. Unbreakable. Again, a sign. But this time, a sign of God’s covenant with man. He does all things with purpose. Man cannot fathom His wisdom. Who is it that dare to counsel the Living God?
The people were given the gift of children. Just as the earth renews her face, so it is with the sons of men. The elders were to lead their generations. The clans would rise up. Tribes would be formed. This land would remain an ethnographer’s time capsule of unbreakable tradition; a land that exacts a price in sweat and blood.
The people bound to this land know it to be a harsh environment. The curse of Adam remains upon their backs. The reprimand of Eve is seen in their birth rates. And the mark of Cain is noted by the tribal warring, brother against brother. But it remains a beautiful land. The men dance. Brides are given in marriage. Children play along the banks of the rivers. The elders look to the horizon with eyelids that are the miniature portraits of their lives. With mother tongue they pass along the oral traditions to their grandchildren. Every wrinkle in their face is a testament of God’s grace.
And the land remains the same; ebb and flow, from generation to generation. They cry out for living water and daily bread. This too is a sign.
Because the Almighty knew the land to be harsh He gave of his character. Patience. Endurance. Tenacity to hold on and to never let go. He placed the stamp of His sovereignty on the hearts of men. It was never meant to be the fatalism that accepts God’s will without acknowledging that within His will are a wide range of acceptable options. But it has become an unhealthy state of affairs. And again, these things are a sign. God is mighty in power. Who can fathom the depths of His wisdom?
God then rained down his mercy. Drops of bounty. Seasons change and cycles of time pass and repeat. Time for planting and a time for harvest. He causes the wild goats to give birth among the craggy rocks. The stars are the only midwives to acknowledge the labour of the mother. It is all within season. And man is within his own season of time. He can be removed without human hand. Who can ponder that the One who has the power to give life is an equal opportunity employer with the angel of death? These things trip me up intellectually.
It must be remembered that He is the God of Noah, Abraham and Moses. When asked His name, the voice in the burning bush replied, “I AM.” God is a state of being and not a state of affairs. He is not only the God of Israel or the God of those who fervently pronounce Al-Sham (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan). How can God be reduced to eschatology? He is a state of being, our historical past, present and future all rolled up in one. He allows us our state of affairs and for that we will account. He also allows us our affairs of state. Man, nations and beasts are summoned. Motives stand naked before God. Eternity strips us to the core before sending us on our way.
God said... and it was... and it shall always be. AFGHANISTAN.
Tammy Swofford is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal.