Exodus – Chapter 30: The Altar of Incense

Exodus 29 was not nearly as boring as Exodus 27 and 28.  It brought us quite a bit of crazy.  Will Exodus 30 return to the boring or will it be as exciting as Exodus 29 in craziness?  Let’s find out.

“Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense.”  – Exodus 30:1

Looks like Exodus 30 is more of God telling the Israelites how to build stuff.

“Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.” – Exodus 30:7

A good parent explains why something must be done.  A bad parent just commands.  God just commands.  God is a bad parent.

“When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12

Wow, a ransom indeed.  God demands the Israelites pay Him or else He will place a plague on the people.  So loving.  Jackass.

 

“The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives.” – Exodus 30:15

Is this where Republicans get their idea of a flat tax being best for the people?  A flat tax states that everyone, regardless of income, pays the same amount of tax in dollars.  Of course, a flat tax means the rich pay a tiny percentage of their income and the poor pay a large percentage of income.  The exact opposite of fairness.  God clearly favors the rich.  Many use this to promote the prosperity Gospel.  Those who are rich were awarded those riches by God, or so say the televangelists asking for money.

“Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die.” – Exodus 30:20

God demands feet be washed or face the punishment of death.  WTF?

“Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.” – Exodus 30:33

The perfume in question here is the perfume made to make things holy.  Why can God not just simply make things holy?  Perfume can make something holy but not God?  And then to kill someone for using the perfume outside of making things holy?  Crazy!

“Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.” – Exodus 30:38

Well, I suppose being cut off from the people is better than death, right?

That concludes Exodus 30.  God has more rules for the Israelites and most are simply crazy.  It’s not God that makes something holy, it’s blood, perfume, and incense that makes things holy.  Not exactly a powerful God.

Coming Soon:  Exodus – Chapter 31: Bezalel and Oholiab

The Financial Harm of Religion

It’s my view that ALL religion is harmful to individuals and society.  There’s the harm of being uneducated.  There’s the harm of believing others are beneath you in some way.  There’s the physical harm of hurting others, and don’t think for a minute that Christianity doesn’t promote harm.  Let me ignore all of that and focus on financial harm.

Last Sunday I discussed the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show, linking to the video on televangelists.  Televangelists are simply evil, asking for money from people who don’t have it, saying God will reward then for their sacrifice now.  This is known as the Prosperity Gospel.  Rich people are better because God has rewarded them with money because they worshipped God in the right way, supposedly.  It’s absolutely disgusting!  People give money they don’t have to these “ministries”, forgoing medical attention, food, and paying basic bills like electricity and water, all for the expectation God will reward them immensely.

Many Christians will argue that every group has a few bad apples and these televangelists are just the bad apples.  Mainstream Christianity is not like this.  WRONG!  Every church asks for money.  During my time as a Christian, I attended several mainstream churches and every one of them gave the money talk.  The pastors played the guilt card using Biblical verses to show God demands you give 10% of your salary to the church (tithing).  In addition, these churches also pushed people to give MORE than 10% with the argument that God rewards those that worship Him.  To worship God properly, you must give money you don’t have to God.

My most embarrassing moment as a Christian, as viewed by my Atheist self, was the day I stood in front of the church congregation and told my story of giving to the point of tithing.  I had the money to do it and it didn’t harm me, other than losing money I could have spent having fun or on something useful.  I stood up there and encouraged everyone to tithe saying that if I could do it anyone can do it.  What utter bullshit!  There were people out there struggling to feed themselves and their kids.  There were people with no health insurance facing huge medical bills.  There were people jobless with little to no money.  Yet here I was telling them they needed to tithe because I did.  I truly believed that at the time.  If I could build a time machine and go back to that day and punch myself in the face I would.  I’d knock some sense into myself.

Fortunately my tithing lasted a mere 10 months before I realized the truth of a fictitious God and stopped.  Did I lose some money?  Yes, but I didn’t lose years and decades of money.  The moral of this story is that religions are harmful.  Not all tell people to kill others, but all are asking for money from people who don’t have money to give and that is harmful.  It’s just as harmful as killing others who don’t believe in the same God as you.

Exodus – Chapter 29: Consecration of the Priests

Over the last couple of chapters in Exodus we’ve learned how to build things and how to design garments for priests.  Exodus 29 continues with other instructions from God, but some of them are, shall we say, odd.

“This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect.” – Exodus 29:1

The Old Testament is all about sacrificing animals to please God, but it’s verses like this that push defects in animals as being a problem to God.  This leads to defects in humans being looked down upon as being wrong or less than perfect.  Now for the weird.

“Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar.  Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar.” – Exodus 29:12-13

It’s not enough to kill an animal as an offering to God.  The animal’s blood must be spread all over the altar.  In addition to being odd and disgusting, it’s not very hygienic.  In a time with no modern medicine, one would think an all-knowing God would devise another, safer method to worship Him.

“But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering.” – Exodus 29:14

It’s okay to born the internal organs, but not the flesh and the intestines?  First of all, the intestines are an organ.  Secondly, WTF?!?!?!  It’s a sin to burn the flesh and intestines?!?!?  God teaches this instead of how to be a good person.  Sigh.

“Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord.” – Exodus 29:18

God is seriously messed up if he finds burning animal organs and body parts a pleasing aroma.

“Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar.” – Exodus 29:21

Not only is blood being spread on the altar, it’s being spread on Aaron and his sons!  Today we consider this the act of a crazy cult, but since most Christians do not read the Bible, they don’t know this was the direct word of God!

“It is the contribution the Israelites are to make to the Lord from their fellowship offerings.” – Exodus 29:28

Burning animal parts and no-yeast bread is the contribution God requires of the Israelites?  Wouldn’t a simple command of “Be nice to each other” be a more effective command to the people?  This is by no means an intelligent God.

“Aaron’s sacred garments will belong to his descendants so that they can be anointed and ordained in them.  The son who succeeds him as priest and comes to the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place is to wear them seven days.” – Exodus 29:29-30

Have the garments been washed or are they still covered in animal blood gore?  That’s going to be a long 7 days if the garments are still dirty!

“And if any of the meat of the ordination ram or any bread is left over till morning, burn it up. It must not be eaten, because it is sacred.” – Exodus – 29:34

OMG!  This verse will someday show up in my Tuesday Crazy Bible Verse posts.  Leftovers are sacred!!! ROFL!!!

“For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you.” – Exodus 29:42

Speak to who, exactly?  God has previously said He will speak to the people, but then only speaks to Moses (and possibly a few other leaders on the mountain depending on the verse you read).

“So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.” – Exodus 29:44-45

Again, God’s ‘unconditional’ love comes with…wait for it…CONDITIONS!  Now the Israelites must kill a bunch of animals and bake a bunch of bread with no yeast for 7 days.  They must spread the blood all over the altar and on Aaron and his sons.  That’s what it takes for God to love the Israelites and ‘dwell’ with them.

To sum up Exodus 29, God provides more instructions, but the chapter is more interesting because many of the instructions are simply crazy.  Spreading ram blood all over Aaron?  That’s, by definition, CRAZY!

Coming Soon:  Exodus – Chapter 30:  The Altar of Incense

Exodus – Chapter 28: The Priestly Garments

God told the Israelites how to build more stuff in Exodus 27.  Exodus 28 is titled “The Priestly Garments” so maybe God will tell the Israelites how to dress!

“Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.” – Exodus 28:2

Okay, so maybe God isn’t telling everyone how to dress, just Aaron.

“Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen—the work of skilled hands.” – Exodus 28:6

If you’re not sure what an ephod is, join the club.  I had to look it up.  It’s “a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests.”  I guess God wants to show off the ‘guns’.  🙂  Exodus 28 continues on how to make other garments. Again, so much on how to make things and so little on how to live good lives.

Coming Soon:  Exodus – Chapter 29:  Consecration of the Priests

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

For this Tuesday’s crazy Bible verse we return back to the book of Deuteronomy which is full of crazy!

“If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” – Deuteronomy 21:18-21

All sons and daughters will rebel against their parents at times.  That’s part of being a child.  Sometimes the rebellion is unjustified but other times it may be justified.  Regardless, Deuteronomy tells us any son that rebels and does not obey his father or mother is to be stoned to death.  Not punished by stern words or a grounding, but a FREAKING STONING!  The punishment is DEATH!!!  WTF!?!?!?!

Christians are all about God teaching them morality and that one cannot be moral without God.  The stoning to death of a stubborn son is a moral act?  No?  That’s what the Bible teaches, so maybe Christians should actually read their Bible!

This is one of the very rare cases in the Bible where it is better to be female than male.  Only the sons are stoned to death for being stubborn.  There’s no mention of punishment for stubborn daughters.  Granted, they will be sold to another man against their will and likely raped many times over, but hey, no stoning to death for disobeying a parent.  🙂

Here’s a question.  Every parent knows that every son will rebel and disobey at times.  If the punishment was death, how did the human species survive and not die off?  🙂

Exodus – Chapter 27: The Altar of Burnt Offering

The last couple of chapters of Exodus have been less than exciting.  In fact, they’ve been excruciatingly boring, telling us little more than instructions on how to build stuff for God.  Will Exodus 27 be different?  Let’s find out.

“Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.” – Exodus 27:1

Nope, no different.  More building stuff and using units of cubits.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a hypothesis that the authors of the Bible filled the Bible with all of this boring stuff that means nothing as a way to make the Bible boring so no one reads it and no one learns about the horrible parts.  Thoughts?  Any supporters of this hypothesis?

“Make a courtyard for the tabernacle.” – Exodus 27:9

Obviously!  Who builds a tabernacle without then building a courtyard?  Duh!  🙂

And that’s about it.  Let me finish with a few of my thoughts on this.  The Bible is filled with many meaningless chapters such as this one.  Instead of God focusing His efforts on teaching the Israelites, and people today, how to be good and kind to EVERYONE, He focuses on teaching the Israelites how to build stuff to worship Him. That’s the God Christians worship, yet they don’t know it because they don’t read the Bible!

Coming Soon:  Exodus – Chapter 28:  The Priestly Garments

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

You may have picked up on this earlier, but to avoid any confusion, let me make it clear.  I’m a progressive liberal.  As such, I really enjoyed Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Losing both of those shows in less than a year was a big blow!  Yes, they were comedy shows, but they were comedy shows that focused on real news.  In most cases, the news they presented was more news than typically seen on Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC.  The Daily Show still exists with a new host.  Trevor Noah starts in September and I’m looking forward to what he brings.  I think he’ll do a good job, but replacing Stewart will be a tough task.

Fortunately John Oliver, a former correspondent on The Daily Show, has his own comedy/news show on HBO titled Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  Given it’s on HBO and I don’t get HBO, I can’t watch the full shows, but can watch the main portion of the show through videos posted on YouTube:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

If you haven’t seen this show, I highly encourage you to check it out.  It’s funny, yet the news is serious.  In the latest episode, Oliver focuses on televangelists and the horrible things they do.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Televangelists

A question that’s often asked of Atheists is why do we care if others support religion?  Why do we care if religion doesn’t hurt others?  If religion didn’t hurt others, I wouldn’t care, but religion DOES hurt others.  Watch this video on televangelists and tell me religion doesn’t hurt others.  Some will say this video just points out the small extreme end of religion, but this is NOT the extreme.  This is the normal.  Every church asks for money and claims that giving to God will result in riches down the road.  Churches push poor people to give money they don’t have.  People sacrifice seeking medical attention or buying food for their kids to give to the church.  Religion DOES hurt others and this video is just one example of why that’s true.