In the beginning
God establishes a very special place in which to place his highest creation, man and woman
He names it Eden, for today we will call it “God’s place”
The 3 of them live harmoniously together in that place, working away but ending each day with a bagel, cream cheese, and cup of coffee at Panera as they discuss life in God’s place
Every day, that is until Eve, and then her husband, Adam, decide to violate the rules, eat the forbidden apple, and have their eyes opened. Now they know more than they ever wanted—it’s been downhill ever since
As a result, they were kicked out of God’s place and told to go east,
which would turn out to be the wrong place
although for them it just wasn’t the good old place
where they used to hang out with God
no more bagels unless they bought them themselves, and even so you can’t get a good one around here, unless you go down to the City
Now, you know, what else do they have to do, so Adam and Eve make babies,
Two boys, the 1st turns out to be a farmer, while the 2nd is a herdsman
Each had their own place in the east place
So it’s interesting that they didn’t get along
But somehow or other, maybe the jealous Cain desires what Abel has, who knows, but he winds up killing his brother,
which caused a mess that we still haven’t been able to get over
After God discovers the disaster, he requires that Cain “wander” all over the place,
which is the same as not having a place
Go east young man, someone once said, or was it west? regardless,
Cain and his descendants go east, but not for long, when they should have kept going they stopped
Since God wasn’t around that much anymore, why do what he wants anyway?
So they settle in this nice eastern place—but of course, it’s the wrong place
They are more like Cain than Abel, and it turns out that every place they go is the wrong place,
there is no right place,
so God decides to flood out their place to start all over again in a new place
—not God’s place but a lot better place than their old place
Oh well that didn’t work, other than not having so many people around after flooding out their place,
God is disappointed that their new place isn’t a good place,
and he comes to realize that they will make any place the wrong place.
I guess, he decides, I’m stuck with them regardless of the place
But something has to change, so
God chooses this guy—let’s start with him,
Abraham is his name, he’s no different than anyone else—
as a matter of fact, he and his wife can’t even make babies.
Abram—he goes by the short version to his friends—lives in the wrong place
but God is going to step in to see if he’s up to moving to another place,
Let’s call it God’s place, although it is not the same as the other one,
it’s about as close as it’s going to get, at least for a millennium or 2, 3, or more.
God sends Abraham to God’s place, and he GOES, now we are getting some place—
it’s God’s place and someday it will be Abe’s kids’ place,
although God will always call it my place, since he just rents it to them
To assist him along the way God promises to step in every now and then and help out:
Give Abe stuff that he can’t afford
Bail him out when he gets in over his head
and sometimes, just flat out bless him when he instead deserves the proverbial swat
This, God decides, will make the difference. It will now work.
Abram’s my man, and I will keep him so, even when he forgets, does his own thing, or outright rebels: It’s me and Abe all the way.
It turns out that although God’s place is the best place,
even the best place sometimes runs out of food.
God was really testing Abraham to see if he had committed to live in God’s place,
even when it’s like living in the wrong place,
that is, a hungry place.
Since he’s hungry, Abe up and leaves God’s place for Egypt,
which is the worst of the worst places—and no one should ever go down to Egypt,
oh well, he flunked that one
Fearing for his life and desiring to save his own skin,
Abram gives his wife to the king of the worst place—this is NOT a nice thing to do to your wife—but at least he can go out to dinner and get some food to eat
Here’s an example of God’s new plan—If you remember, God commits to Abram to ensure that he gets the job done in spite of the fact that Abram messes up just like everyone else.
This is one of those times; we expect the zap—after all he gave his wife to some other guy, so that he could go out for a burger. But instead Abe gets good stuff, lots and lots of good stuff: cows and sheep, a king’s wardrobe, and most important he gets his wife back—unharmed by the way
That’s enough of the worst place, even the king wants no more of Abram. Get out of my place he yells—I like it even though you know it as the worst place, because to me it’s the best place, that is, it’s my place—go back to your place.
Abe finally returns to God’s place, a little worse for wear but very rich
Back home in God’s place Abraham wanders around for a long time—a 100 years or so—in God’s place,
by the way, we sometimes call it the “promised” land,
which is just another name for God’s place,
that is, “My place, not their place” says God
Abram, short name version, becomes long name version, Abraham, when God tells him that someday his kids would leave God’s place for the worst place,
but with God’s permission,
because the kids had to get away from the rest of the people living in God’s place,
who behave as if they lived in the worst place
and God needed to wait 60 days or so before he evicts them,
well it would be 400 years, but they would eventually get evicted, sort of
Abraham and Sarah, his kid-less wife of wow,
maybe 80 years, finally make a baby—and there’s laughter all around
—for those who get the joke—
for those who don’t, just call him Isaac
Time goes by for the happy couple,
although Abe had to kick his previous wife-on-the-side and her son out to the east place,
which of course is not a good place,
it’s a bad place,
although it’s not the worst place.
But sad to say Sarah dies
—90 sad years without a son,
followed by 37 wonderful ones with her beautiful Isaac
—what could be better than that!
Abraham finally buys a piece of property in God’s place,
just a small place, but it’s his place,
and only large enough for a burial place,
where he places his dead wife. He soon remarries.
Isaac gets on in years, single though he is,
but Abraham finally figures out how to keep God happy;
that is, live in his place, but don’t have Isaac marry one of those cute Canaanites,
who live in God’s place
but behave like it’s the worst place
Abe sends for a wife for his son Isaac from back home
—she, whoever she turns out to be,
must have the right genes,
although she lives in the wrong place,
that is the east place.
But when she moves to God’s place,
she will be the right wife in the right place
Before Abraham dies,
he makes 6 more babies with wife #3,
although they contracted a pre-nup agreement
that required the kids to move out of God’s place to the east place
once Abe died and was put in his burial place
—which was in the right place,
that is God’s place.
Isaac takes over—
God tells him that he now will get the good stuff
even if he does bad stuff
because that’s the only way that God can ensure that in the end all will be well,
with the right people in God’s place
and the other people in that other place,
that we don’t like to talk about,
but you know, the really hot place
Well look at this, it’s another of those hungry times in God’s place,
but this time God steps in to make sure that Isaac remains in God’s place
and that he certainly does not to go down to Egypt
—that is absolutely, definitely
not only the wrong place
but also the worst place
Isaac makes due with veggie burgers while he remains in God’s place,
although there were times he thought about sneaking south to the worst place
because that was the best place for a black angus beef burger with a side of fries.
Like Abe and Sarah, Isaac and his wife Rebekah don’t make babies right away,
but eventually they do, two at once, a double header!
The 1st is bad, the 2nd good,
although the good one is not much better than the bad one.
The real problem is that only one can get the blessing stuff from God,
and he has already chosen #2 for that,
so #1 is behind the 8 ball from the get go
The boys don’t get along—why should they? Here’s an example
#2 not only cheats #1 out of his birthright
but also steals the blessing that goes along with it.
#1 is not a happy camper, and threatens to kill #2
as soon as dad dies.
While waiting #1 moves out of God’s place to the east place,
that’s almost but not quite as bad as the worst place,
but then what does one expect,
after all he is bad one.
But then if he’s the bad one,
what do you call the other one?
#2 may not be good, but he certainly ain’t dumb,
so he runs away from #1—
who if you remember is going to kill him as soon as dad dies
On the way out of God’s place to the back home place
an angel tells #2 that God is with him
—he will inherit the ‘even when I mess up,
God is going to ensure that all turns out well’ promise.
And that although he is fleeing to the back home place,
God will bring him back to God’s place.
The back home place,
which is a bad place but not as bad as the worst place,
turns out to be a good place to get married,
2 times, or was it 4, and make lots of babies.
In the back home place, #2, whose name is Jacob,
marries two sisters:
one cute, one not;
one older, one younger;
one the favorite, the other not;
but she who is least favored is the one with the most babies! nice
Eventually it’s time to leave the wrong place for God’s place,
and Jacob, his 2 or is it 4 wives,
his 11 boys and his 1 daughter,
and a whole bunch of small domesticated animals
—that’s scholar talk for sheep and goats—
start the trek home.
Rather rich, he is.
Just before entering God’s place,
#2 Jacob and his entourage,
meet his brother #1—
the one who promised to kill him the next time they meet.
Whew! it all works out well,
except #1 wanted #2 to return with him to the wrong place,
the east place, right outside of God’s place.
That’s not good,
but a little lie gets the family out of trouble so that they are able to enter God’s place,
after being away for 20 years—but right on God’s schedule
One guy living in God’s place,
but behaving like he’s from the east place,
messes with Jacob’s only daughter;
two of Jacob’s kids take it personally
and put him and friends on the express to the real hot place.
Not a good way to get out of a bad situation,
but then although it’s God’s place,
it’s not a real good place
until those who behave like they’re from the east place no longer live in God’s place.
Eventually another of those hungry times in God’s place shows up,
but this time for Jacob.
I wonder what he will do?
Beef burger like grandpa or veggie burger like dad?
It’s a little different as Jacob is being invited by his long lost son,
now the 2nd more powerful man in the world,
to sit out the rest of the hungry time in the worst place
—a little God’s place in the middle of the worst place.
But a cautious Jacob asks God and gains permission to leave God’s place,
for Egypt—definitely the worst place
—but with a promise that his kids will return to God’s place in a few years,
oh well, more like 400
—that’s a long time to be out of God’s place
living in the worst place
and you can almost expect what happens and it does,
only worse—got it? ‘worse in the worst!
Those years are many but they pass quickly,
well not really;
for Jacob’s kids, who have been enslaved by those of the worst place,
time moves painfully slow
Those kids, really his descendants,
greatly increase in number during those many years
—many, many babies
Thus the worst place is a good place to multiply
But, alas, also a good place to become slaves
But then that’s why it’s called the worst place
Even so, God had promised and the 400 years are almost over;
let’s see if he delivers on schedule!
On the side—Some time or other,
Jacob’s kids also get a new name, Israel,
it’s really Jacob’s that he received from God.
But they take it,
since they like it: calling them ‘Israel’ sounds more grown up
than calling them ‘kids.’
One of those kids, I mean Israelites,
a very special one of them, named Moses,
flees out of the worst place
and goes to the hot, dry place
to hang out with the sheep.
40 years later he meets God at God’s personal hill place,
not the same place as God’s place,
but rather a hill in the middle of no place
—where God likes to hang out by himself
God tells Moses that he wants him to
Lead God’s people out of the worst place to God’s place,
but first he is to take them to this place,
that is, God’s special personal hill place
After convincing the king of the worst place to kick God’s people out
—God helped the process with 10 or so divine zaps—
Moses leads a HUGH number of people,
remember Israelites not kids,
on a 3-month hike from the worst place to God’s personal hill place
—miraculously feeding and watering them as they walk through the hot, dry place—veggie burgers with an occasional pigeon burger on the trip.
God’s personal hill place is named Mt. Sinai—a holy smoking hill if there ever was one
From his special hill place God gives his people instructions for living
with him in their soon to be place,
Once there, he would allow them to live with him,
at least as close as they could get to him,
in his place,
not his special personal hill place,
but rather God’s place,
as long as they followed his instructions
Which, let’s not make this complicated, simply say:
If you do what I say, I will be happy and so will you
If you don’t, I won’t be happy and neither will you
—at least in the long run
About 5 months into their stay at God’s special personal hill place
they mess up big time
But Moses comes to their rescue
and he talks God into continuing to hang out with his people
and to walk with them as they travel from his special hill place
to God’s place
6 more months are required to build God’s personal tent
that enables him to think that he is at his personal hill place
when he is really in the midst of his people,
eventually living in God’s place.
Finally, God signals that it’s time to go up to his place
so that they can make it their place too
All the Israelites, led by God, head north
—they are going home,
finally to God’s place after a 400-year extended stay in the worst place
and an 11-month detour to God’s personal hill place
According to Google Maps it’s a hike of 11 days
But they probably took a longer time to get there
as the HUGH number of them had to walk through the hot, dry place
—they complained along the way but God gave them what they needed—an occasional pigeon burger, but no fries, although a nice cold glass of water was always available
But finally they arrive at the border—a town called Kadesh Barnea
And just on the other side is God’s place;
it’s a nice place,
not a hot, dry place
It flows with ‘milk and honey’
which in my opinion would potentially make it a messy place,
in spite of the fact that it’s God’s place
God desires to give his people a ‘big picture’ view of his place,
so he has them send out 12 scouts to take a bunch of pictures of God’s place
to post on Facebook
for all to see how much better God’s place is than
the worst place,
the hot, dry place,
the east place,
or even the back home place.
The scouts are told to take pictures of
the different kinds of fruits and veggies that grow in God’s place
all the people who live in God’s place
although they are people from the worst place not God’s place,
These are people who follow other gods,
who think they own God’s place,
calling it their place,
although it is really his place not their place
and the beautiful cities in which they live
it takes 40 days to walk about in God’s place getting all the pics
The 12 scouts post the pictures—good shots of God’s place
But then 10 of the 12 start photo-shopping the pics
They make the walls of the beautiful cities higher
The soldiers of the people become taller
But they leave the fruits and the veggies alone
except to pour on some of that milk and honey,
which gooes them all up
The other 2 scouts, J&C, encourage the people not to look at the photo-shopped pictures
but to consider that God is giving to them his place,
a wonderful place, for them to live in.
As a matter of fact he has prepared this place for them
ever since he sent Abraham those many years ago
Oh well and alas, the people listen to the 10 scouts instead of the 2 scouts
and decide that any place would be better than God’s place
even if it is the worst place
or the hot, dry place
—that was a big blunder if there ever was one
God hears all of this, He’s not happy as he says
I would have given you Israelites my place,
that is God’s place,
and I would have helped you kick out those who call it their place
although it’s my place
and they’re just in the wrong place,
But now you can’t have my place,
you get the hot, dry place instead,
although you don’t have to go back to the worst place
As for the 10 scouts, who had photo-shopped the pics,
they get the Godly zap that sends them in the direction of the real hot place
that’s under the hot, dry place
That night the people change their collective mind
—we never should have listened to the 10 instead of the 2—
and they decide that they don’t want to live in the hot, dry place
but God’s place instead
Oops that’s a no no says Moses
You had your choice,
You don’t get another,
It’s the hot, dry place for you
—there you will live and there you will die
After you are dead,
that will take about 40 years,
God will give his place to your kids, Israelite kids,
and they will go with him to take it from those who call it their place
even though it’s God’s place
During those intervening 40 years
God hung out with his people in the hot, dry place
Giving them their daily bread
and leading them to still waters
And every once in a while they got a pigeon McNugget sandwich to go
No new shoes nor clothes,
but then the ones they had never wore out nor became too small nor out of fashion
After 40 years the hot, dry place
has the graves all over the place of those who God led out of the worst place
but chose not to enter God’s place,
they’re all dead—not one of them would reach God’s place,
except the 2 scouts, J&C,
they get to go in and live in God’s place
—but not all their friends—
Once again it’s time to cross the border into God’s place,
but this time there’s a river in the way
But Joshua, he’s the J of J&C,
does a Moses and the people walk over on dry ground
from the hot, dry place,
which in this case is also the east place,
but somehow or other it is now also part of God’s place
They have returned after a 400 year break to live in God’s place
And as soon as they set foot in God’s place,
the pigeon burgers stop,
the angus pure beef burgers return,
but then one needs to get a job to pay for them.
And that’s what living in God’s place is all about!
In the land of milk and honey
they will come to live in cities which they did not have to build
and to eat olives and grapes which they did not have to plant,
drink cool fresh water stored in cisterns which they did not dig,
and play football
—that is the American version—
on fields that they did not have to clear of stones.
Thus, God’s place is the best place;
it’s too bad dad and mom didn’t want to live there!