Christmas is a time to enjoy cozy lights, sweet treats, and Dutch gezelligheid – a wonderful word without pure translation, but roughly: nice/comfy/friendly/cozy- ness.
Some think of “baby Jesus,” or making everything just right, and still others wish to fast forward through the season. Holidays can be painful for some so I want to share a verse I’ve never heard at Christmastime which may give hope, especially to any who’ve ever been oppressed. Or maybe it gives more perspective beyond the baby in a manger.
But first, a question: Was God’s anger wiped when Jesus went to the cross? Did it really change a smoking volcano (Exodus 19:18) into a peaceful mountain? Is that even possible if God is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever’? Or maybe the cross was about getting our names on a guest list (the guest list).
Well, enter the Torch and Oven, strange and maybe frightening symbols, but don’t be afraid because any God that would rather kill *Himself (aka Jesus) than account our own infractions on our heads, is a God/Parent we shouldn’t be afraid of…
A long time ago, Abraham saw these objects on a dark and frightful night, –but again, don’t be afraid– (just like the angels kept telling everyone when they announced Jesus..). These symbols God used to identify *Himself are striking.
A Torch gives light and can provide comfort and guidance in the dark. Jesus said he was the Light of the World and shared that designation with us (Matthew. 5:14). But an Oven?? That’s frightful by any stretch, yet God likens *himself to this on multiple occasions: metaphorically e.g. “the crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3), and matter-of-factly, e.g. “God is a “consuming fire” (various).
This last phrase occurs frequently in the bible and is worth a look, but if you review it God can easily comes off as a crazy Person. A literal hot mess. But realize the cause of that anger and where it’s directed and one might actually be glad:
God does give a damn.
“The day is coming.. it will burn like a furnace…”, a prophetic word from the last book of the old testament which heralds an end to all pain, suffering, oppression and injustice in the world. It also points to our heritage and destiny, a place where there’s no more hurting or destroying forever (Isaiah 11:9). (note: “furnace” is same Hebrew word translated “oven” in the Genesis reference).
So in these symbols we glimpse God’s Identity and our own: the power to bring/speak/give light and love to eachother, and hearts that grieve and burn upon witnessing oppression, suffering, injustice.
What breaks my heart may not be what breaks yours, but there’s a fire there all the same. And with fire comes Power to Fight. (click to tweet)
At Christmas some ponder the humility of the baby in the manger, or marvel at the love of a man on a cross, but I’m thinking about the torch and oven–Light against the dark and Hope that all will be made well. And until that prophecy/promise is fulfilled, we keep helping and looking out for one another, especially the vulnerable. After all, that’s what God was always about (Matthew 25:40, John 21:15), right?
And if things ever look dire and all hope seems lost, remember the Oven, because the same God Who rose up against an oppressive Pharaoh to release an entire nation, is the same God Who will rise up to release an oppressed humanity. <3
*I use He and His as simple pronouns for God, but fully recognize God with male and female “identity” for lack of a better word, as demonstrated throughout the bible and most blatantly throughout the human race. Transgender God post here.
Last collage picof suffering and trouble being swept under a rug is related to a post highlighting ugly truth being uncovered in “Christian” America since the Trump presidency.