Parashat Matot

Bringing the Supernatural into the Natural

In this portion the Israelites are in the process of the last stages ‎of wilderness living, the Land is in sight and plans are being laid ‎to take it. Who should get what parts? Who would live where and ‎what were the overall boundaries of Israel going to be? If they ‎were ever to become a nation state Israel needed territory; a ‎functioning homeland where produce could be made, traded ‎and taxes raised, where an eventual monarchy could be ‎established and a central Temple focus could be created in the ‎very place where G-d has put His Name.‎

One thing the Israelites had learnt was that G-d was ever ‎present and powerful in their community and individual lives. He ‎was actually visible in the Mishkan, truly ‘with’ them in a tangible ‎way. ‎
The bottom line was always that they knew G-d was there as ‎real as the air they breathed. Their understanding of reality ‎included G-d as first cause and Lord, events happened because ‎He willed it to be so, or didn’t happen because sin or judgement ‎or because they were simply ‘asking amiss’. They recognised ‎that actions had consequences and personal choices would and ‎could affect outcomes. They had a ‘relational’ world view, one ‎where events were directly related to one another, cause and ‎effect, action and reaction. This is a profoundly spiritual ‎worldview.‎

But in this day and time we have a problem: The fact is we have ‎forgotten what it is to live with a living and ever present G-d. Our ‎secular humanist society and culture has so effectively excluded ‎G-d from having any role or part to play in anything that it has ‎now become the NORM that atheism is true! From the ‎standpoint of faith this is incredible. It has bred a culture where ‎personal responsibility is diminished, blame is given to external ‎forces outside our control (bad upbringing, social factors, ‎poverty) and crime (sin) is seen almost as the inevitable result of ‎these factors. The criminal therefore becomes the victim, not the ‎perpetrator! Everything on its head! A spiritual worldview teaches ‎responsibility for your actions.‎

But into all this comes absorption as an issue. We tend to see it ‎as the culture around us absorbing us as in assimilation, but ‎actually the reverse is true, we absorb the culture. It changes us ‎far more than we change it. The prevailing attitudes and belief ‎structures, anti-faith paradigms that form our world, nations and ‎communities get absorbed very quickly.‎

Yet we talk about the supernatural as different from the natural ‎world. Why? The ancient Israelites knew no such dichotomy. ‎The natural world included G-d’s actions with the people, nation. ‎They had a holistic view that included direct intervention from G-‎d. They expected G-d to act, expected answers to prayer, ‎expected favour and blessing when they acted in obedience, ‎and vice versa! But now we push this into the realm of the ‎‎‘supernatural’. We have absorbed the lie that G-d’s actions are ‎not part of the normal natural universe. G-d’s ways and dealings ‎with us are as natural as the air we breathe, yet we fail mentally, ‎psychologically and spiritually to comprehend this, let alone ‎base our lives on this reality. That would be ‘faith’, the kind that ‎G-d expects. Secular humanism has done a grand job, lowering ‎our faith expectancy and reducing the power of G-d in our lives. ‎When G-d answers a prayer we get excited! This should be so ‎normal we would just accept it and be surprised if it didn’t ‎happen!‎
G-d is intimately involved in the affairs of mankind. More so than ‎we ever see, and we need to realise just how wrong our own ‎understanding of the world is.‎

Is our G-d a bolt on extra, a sop to a cold and otherwise ‎mechanistic fatalistic universe, or is He the foundation stone, the ‎One who holds our lives together and gives it complete ‎meaning?‎

We need to re-evaluate our lives and practice the presence of ‎the Living G-d in our midst, despite what our prevailing culture ‎says. Let us not absorb so much that we never look to see G-d ‎at work, but rather expect to see it every day as normal!‎