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God’s Subjection to Us

God’s Subjection to Us February 1, 2018

Numbers 20:1-13

When we look at Sacred Scripture, we find an immense amount of Scripture in which it seems that God is subject to human limitations. Throughout the Old Testament, there is a tendency to anthropomorphize God according to human standards. I would attribute at first, to that of the human authors of Sacred Scripture trying to make God accessible to their human audience. Upon further look though, this anthropomorphizing of the Lord allows humans to access the greater mysteries of God. Dei Verbum speaks specifically about this nature of God’s Revelation:

“It [Sacred Scripture] teaches that it is to his Revelation that we must attribute the fact ‘that those things, which in themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, can, in the present condition of the human race, be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty, and without the contamination of error.’” (DV 6)

I think that this perception of God being subject to human limitations does not prove that He is limited to us, rather that He freely gives us Himself for the sake of our salvation. It would be evident to human reason that an almighty God would not be limited to the “power” of humans. It would be contradictory to the very existence of a higher power.

Where I turn to is the Book of Numbers in which Moses strikes the rock twice in anger to pour forth water. The Lord tells Moses, “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eye to yield its water” (Numbers 20:8). Here we have a clear commandment from God on how to do what He pleases. Moses is to tell the rock to pour forth water, but what does Moses do; he strikes the rock with his rod angrily. Yet water still pour forth. Why is this? Why would God subject himself to bring humanity life-giving water when Moses ignored what God had said? Why would God give Moses such authority? The key to this is Revelation for it says, “and he showed himself holy among them” (Numbers 20:13). The point that God wants us to understand is His power and might. This is done through signs as is described in Dei Verbum. These physical signs are clear examples of the Lord and they point to the Creator. So, it would be in the best interest of His Revelation to subject Himself to the commands of His own creation, as long as it serves a purpose for creation’s salvation (for isn’t this exactly what Christ did on the Holy Cross?).

Though I believe that the skeptic would say something akin to, “Just because rock comes from something that is clearly a spring, doesn’t mean that there exists a greater power.” My answer to this is simple. When we go beyond the things of human reason (water coming from a rock in the desert), we delve into a world that is far beyond the power of humans. Wouldn’t humans performing things that are beyond this world point to something greater than the eye itself? When we look at the phenomenological aspects of this passage, there is an experience that goes beyond human consciousness and abilities. The very sign that is gained through this passage helps the human to see something and move into thought of the Lord. It is for this very reason, that He so freely “subjects” Himself to us, that we might understand more fully what it is to be in communion with Him.

~John Paul


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