Mistake of Man-
My first impressions of the ancient Egyptians were formed in Sunday School, put to music by gospels such as “Go Down Moses,” and brought to the silver screen by Cecil B. DeMille.
It was not a pretty picture—false gods, harsh rulers, fake magicians, and slave-drivers wielding the lash.
Egypt was on the wrong side of everything.
But now I was told that God was sending divine messages to every culture.
So I had to look at the land of the pharaohs through different eyes, Egyptian eyes.
Written in hieroglyphs that were already old when Sumerian cuneiform was young, the Pyramid texts date back almost five thousand years. Chiseled into the walls of the dark corridors beneath these monumental tombs, these texts provide the deceased Pharaoh with the keys to a successful afterlife: how to overcome each obstacle on the way to the divine realm and what words to speak to the guardians who block the way.
One strategy was to enter the cyclical course of the cosmos. And accompany the sun god in the barque that transverses the sky each day.
The deceased king went so far, according to one inscription, as to kick the sun god overboard to make room for himself in the divine barque.
The complex mythology of the Egyptians far surpassed the simple piety of preliterate polytheism.
But, however complex, these greedy efforts to compel or trick the divine powers seem spiritually retrograde compared to the sensitive cave paintings and the humble peasant honoring a stream with a pile of stones.
“Isn’t that right, Lord?”
Yes, it is a fundamental mistake of man to try to control God rather than the other way around. Do not exaggerate it. It is no different from (no worse than) trying to bribe the king’s mistress. Or learn the password that goes you through the palace gates. But it is not high spirituality, and in fact is not really a kind of spirituality at all.
Listen to this on God: An Autobiography, The Podcast– the dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin.
He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him.
3 thoughts on ““It is a mistake of man to try to control God rather than the other way around.””
Ajit Dass February 5, 2015
Thanks Jerry… I’m getting it! Seek divine guidance rather than divine intervention, because God would rather have you get the right food yourself instead of intervening to get someone else to feed it to you 🙂
Ajit Dass January 30, 2015
Just wondering if interceders, clairvoyants and healers ”bribe the king’s mistress or learn the password that goes you through the palace gates” ?
Jerry L Martin February 4, 2015
I don’t know much about clairvoyance and all, but it is an insightful
application of what I was told when praying about ancient Egyptians. The
main spiritual message is that we should follow divine guidance, as best we
can, not try to make the divine serve whatever we happen to want. Thank you
for your careful read, Ajit.