the god that changed it’s mind
August 14, 2009
The story is told of an ancient rabbi who was a storyteller. The rabbi told his disciples many stories to illuminate the reality in which they found themselves, and to open them to the ever mysterious being that they believed was part of this reality.
The rabbi once told the story of a time long past,
when people used to sacrifice people in order to please god. Not only people need to sacrifice people, but a friend needed to sacrifice a friend in order to please the god. In times of war, or draught, or plague, someone would get the message from god that he need to sacrifice his friend.
At one stage there was a draught for many years. Many people died in this time, but nobody got a message from god that he should sacrifice a friend. There was a very devout man, Alinksi, with a friend who was like a brother to him. One night Alinski had a dream in which god told him to sacrifice his friend. Knowing what this dream meant, he told the tribe leader the next day that god had told him to sacrifice his best friend in order to stop the draught. The two friends cried together, they spent time in silence. His friend wasn’t mad, he knew that this was the way the gods worked.
The day of the sacrifice drew closer. And on the day everyone was quite. It wasn’t a day of celebration, but everyone knew how the god worked, and that someone had to sacrifice a friend. The two friends started the ritual of gathering the wood together, building the altar, and the friend climbed onto the altar. As Alinski was getting his knife ready, he heard god speak to him, saying that this offer wasn’t necessary. What is more, he heard god say, people should no longer be sacrificed! I don’t need sacrifices to provide you with rain! I don’t want people to be sacrificed ever, I am a loving being.
Alinski was full of joy. He dropped the knife, and kissed his friends on both cheeks. However, his friend was confused, and told Alinski to continue the offering. “No”, exclaimed Alinski! Didn’t you hear? God has just stopped the sacrificing of people! God told me that sacrifices wasn’t neccesary anymore. Didn’t you hear? “No”, his friend replied. He was sceptical, because he knew that god has always told their tribe to sacrifice people in times of crisis. But he trusted Alinski, and knew he was a devout man. So after some conversation, he was convinced.
Full of joy they went back to the tribe leader, to tell him of the wonderful news. God doesn’t require human sacrifice any longer. “Impossible”, the tribe leader shouted. He wanted to kill these two men, to sacrifice them himself. How dare they try and make a fool out of the holy men of the past who have heard God speak to them over and over again, telling them to sacrifice a friend in times of crisis. But, being afraid of the many people who considered Alinski to be a devout man, he decided to shun them from the tribe, not kill them.
Alinski and his friend traveled for the rest of their lives, bringing people the good news that God do not require human sacrifice.
That, the rabbi told his students, is why we no longer sacrifice humans.
One of his brightest students replied: “But we have never sacrificed humans.”
“No”, the rabbi said, “we have, before the time of Alinski, it is many years ago, many generations ago, but their was a time when everyone knew that god required human sacrifice”.
“How can we ever trust a god that have changed his mind in the past?” the student asked.
“How can we ever live life with a god that will never change his mind in the future?” the rabbi answered.