The Universal God of Abraham
Abraham (originally Abram) developed the first universal god. Until Abraham each human grouping; whether town, city, or early civilization, had its own god that served as the center of their group. Abraham introduced the concept that there really is only one god who is the god of everybody. The universal God of Abraham is the progenitor of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions. All 3 share the original god of Abraham.
Abraham was born in Mesopotamia sometime around 2,000 BCE and his life is recorded in the Book of Genesis. He moved to Canaan, spent time in Egypt during a period of drought, and ended up moving back to the “promised land” in Canaan where his universal God promised to make him a great nation and to bless him and his followers. In Genesis 12:3, God promises “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
The concept of a universal god was an advance in the concept of God. This concept probably came from the thinking left brain of Abraham. Thinking about God can easily lead to the conclusion that there is only one God. Even today, it can be reasoned that, if there is a God, there can only be one God. It does not really make sense that there are different gods for different groups. There is only one observable world and each group is living within the same world. There can only be one God.
The first 2 commandments in the Judeo-Christian teaching are related to the fact that their God is universal:
First commandment: “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Second commandment: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”
The second commandment also clearly states that the universal God is invisible and not to be represented by any physical statues. This is a clear departure from previous Gods and sets the stage for the same God to serve (or, control) much larger areas. Individuals no longer need to have a dominating icon in their environment.
The Universal God of Abraham was a significant step forward in human history, and likely represents left brain involvement in the concept of God. Up until that point, the God concept was driven by the sense of wonderment coming from the vision-based world.
In our early development, groups were each led by their Gods; therefore Gods also led them to war with one another. Human history is filled with wars fought along religious lines. Likewise, the universal God of Abraham also served as an aggressive war-like leader. Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed, worshipped other gods.
“…the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah….which the Lord overthrew in his anger…For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them ….and the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 29: 23-28
In another story, the worshippers of Baal were tricked into attending a large gathering intended to make sacrifices to Baal, and the Lord approved of the fact that Jehu and 80 of his men went in and killed all the worshippers. (II Kings, chapter 10.
Further, the Lord speaking to Moses:
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.” Numbers 33: 51-53.
The God of Abraham approved and encouraged the taking of the land of Canaan by force and driving out all the inhabitants. In fact, the Old Testament books are filled with human atrocities inflicted on one another. It is very clear that violence was a significant part of human life at those times. And, religion was used to define one group opposed to another.
Furthermore, the universal God of Abraham was not tolerant of those who believed in other Gods:
“But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Numbers 33: 55.
In other words, don’t leave any traces of the previous people – it will come back to haunt you. The people you are displacing need to be completely driven out. The ideas of Hitler and Stalin were not new!
The Biblical God was a jealous God. There could be no other gods, and God was vindictive about it. From the Song of Moses: “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” Genesis 32, 16-17.
God’s actions as result of the worship of other gods are as follows:
“I will heap mischiefs upon them”. I will spend my arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them…..I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men.” Genesis 32: 23-26
These words describe the most extreme dastardly treatment that could be inflicted upon an enemy. And, all of this was because they celebrated other gods. The believers and worshipers of the God of Moses were provided a very strong message: we will kill people who do not believe as we do.
And, this is the same base for God that serves the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions. The message is “convert or be destroyed”. Aggressiveness is built into the Universal God created by Abraham. This makes it easy to understand how the Western and Islamic civilizations are in conflict with one another.