I’m looking at a number of things in the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament) to see if I can more clearly see what message it was trying to hammer in. The answers don’t necessarily prove or disprove Judaism or Christianity, although they could… it depends whether there’s anything clear, there. So this is a really open discussion with no pressing agenda. Please share your thoughts if you can see clear patterns or ideas in the text, as it highlights itself to be read.
1. Appearances of God’s glory are described with carefulness not to blur the distinction between Creator and the created reflection/manifestation, such as in Ezekiel’s “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” But personal appearances of God (such as in Genesis) are often described interchangeably as angels (literally, messengers). I think that what is going on here is that the text is making clear that the appearances are created and sent on God’s behalf, so there is no confusion that He ‘is’ the body that appears any more than He ‘is’ the fire in the bush that Moses saw. That seems to be what the authors of the targums were doing when they renamed references to God as ‘His word’. But some people think Torah is doing the opposite; that these passages are there to demonstrate to us that the sender and the sent one can be literally interchangeable and indistinguishable. Is there any indication pointing one way or the other?
2. I think that the many references to God’s creation being everything with breath and everything in the skies, earth, seas, etc. is supposed to be definitional. The prophets laugh at people who trust in finite things and tell them to look to the Maker of all things they can see, who is above it all. But some people would say that those verses are just meant to bring people to praise God, and don’t exclude an ‘exception’ (i.e. incarnation claim).
3. The Torah is so cautious about worshiping God only, yet it gives no indication that there will be a ‘new way’ of doing that involves accepting a claimant to be God into your prayers and devotion. For this reason, I think that even 99.99% evidence towards someone deserving worship still isn’t enough. Usually, human understanding is so limited and fickle that we should go for what seems ‘good enough’, and that really is enough. But doesn’t Torah’s level of caution and the nature of the path it praises mean that if you had any doubt whether you were committing idolatry, at all, even a small doubt, then you should just turn around and worship God in the old way (that is, simply addressing the Maker of everything) with no concerns or questions? (Not that I think there is that much proof, but it’s a hypothetical I’ve talked about before with a friend.) Or am I misreading when I think that ‘who you worship’ is set up as a special case regarding total clarity?
If these things aren’t as clear as I thought, that doesn’t take away from the case Judaism holds. But they can be important ideas in it, if they are clear. To me, these are the central messages of the Jewish Bible, just by inference. So I’d love to see if there’s any support of the way I have been seeing them to be very definite and clear, or whether perhaps I am reading the context of Judaism into them… in which case, there are just two possible readings depending on the ideas you personally bring to the table when you open the scriptures.
Thanks for your help in studying these things. Having many minds often helps shed more light and depth.