Is G-d about “Faith”, “Signs & Wonders”, or something deeper?

An article written by, John Marks, posted here by permission.

I understand the appeal of Christianity. It is very simple and easy. The ticket to Heaven is very low cost. Just agree or believe that Jesus died on your behalf and as a result all your “sins” are forgiven.

The Christian has been indoctrinated in this throughout his or her life and has never been given the opportunity to question it. He or she has also been taught they should accept this without question and to do otherwise would be to “lack faith”. I think lacking what Christians call “faith” would be considered a “sin”.

A point that everyone can agree upon is there is one true G_d and that is the G_d of Israel. Another point that everyone can agree upon is what is called “Old Testament” is the part of the Bible that came first and that what is called the “New Testament” came later. We can also agree that what Christians call the “Old Testament” is written in Hebrew and there are not many people in the world that can read and understand the “Old Testament” in its original language. I will also venture that most of us have accepted as true about the “Old Testament” what other people have told us and what we have accepted as true about it did not come from our own personal investigation of the text. It is not possible to do a personal investigation, if we do not understand Hebrew.

I think you may also agree that your conclusions about G_d (I am substituting “conclusion” for what you might call “belief” or “faith”).

Here is what Webster said about “faith”:

1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is
declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his
authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.
[1913 Webster]

I think we agree that we cannot see or hear G_d, so the only way to know about Him is through prophets or spokespeople. We are faced with different groups offering different testimony regarding truth. How do we decide what testimony is true?

I suspect that any Christian will agree that what is written in the “Old Testament” is true. Do we agree upon that? If so, I will respectfully refer the reader to Deuteronomy chapter 13:

1. All this word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. {P}
2. If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams–and he give thee a sign or a wonder,

[If there will arise among you a prophet…] and he gives you a sign: Heb. אוֹת, [meaning a sign] in the heavens, as it is stated in the case of Gideon [who said to the angel]:“then show me a sign (אוֹת) ” (Jud. 6:17), and then it says [further],“let it be dry only upon the fleece [and upon all the ground let there be dew]” (Jud. 6:39)
or a wonder: Heb. מוֹפֵת, [meaning a sign] on the earth. (other texts [of Rashi read as follows]:
and he gives you a sign: in the heavens, as is written,“and they [i.e., the sun, the moon, and the stars] shall be for signs (לְאֹתֹת) and for seasons” [Gen. 1: 14].
or a wonder: on the earth, as is written, “If there will be dew on the fleece only, and upon all the ground, dry” [Jud. 6:39]). Even so, you shall not listen to him. But if you say, “Why then does the Holy One, blessed is He, give him the power to perform a sign? [Scripture replies,] ”for the Lord, your God, is testing you [… whether you really love the Lord your God]” (verse 4). – [Sifrei; San. 90a]

3. and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee–saying: ‘Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’;

How do we know what god has not been known by Israel? See Deuteronomy 4:12: “The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no image, just a voice.” The only G_d that Israel knew was the One that spoke to them at Mount Sinai. He had no form and no image. Signs and wonders are meaningless, if the prophet that gave them, asks us to follow a god that Israel did not know at Mount Sinai.

4. thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God putteth you to proof, to know whether ye do love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
No amount of “signs and wonders” can serve as proof of the veracity of anyone that claims to speak for G_d. Any “sign or wonder” must be accompanied by direction to follow the G_d that Israel knew/heard at Mount Sinai. That following means following the Torah and the commandments given therein:
5 After the LORD your God shall ye walk, and Him shall ye fear, and His commandments shall ye keep, and unto His voice shall ye hearken, and Him shall ye serve, and unto Him shall ye cleave.

John Marks

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