The boss is the bigwig. In Italy, the mafia had a godfather that controlled it. The law was severe. If someone failed, they died. There were no second chances. There were no compromises. When there were two strong gangs, an endless war would decide which would be the boss. The bigwig is the almighty. When challenged, the almighty bigwig cruelly and mercilessly avenged himself.
Jehovah delivered Israel from Egypt with great promises, for the people moaned under a yoke of iron. The promise he made was to take the people to a good and fertile land, a place of peace and rest. This was the promise: “Jehovah said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite’” (Ex. 3:7-8). The people believed and left Egypt by the hand of Moses. Jehovah delivered them with great plagues, and they did not have eyes to see that that god was going to do with them what he had don with the Egyptians. First Jehovah promised to deliver them from Egypt; then he gave them laws, saying: If you transgress my laws, I will bring over you all the evils of Egypt. The text says: “Then Jehovah will make your plagues wonderful, and the plagues of your seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and severe sicknesses, and of long continuance. He will bring on you again all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they shall cling to you” (Deut. 28:59-60). Instead of taking them straight to the Promised Land and teaching them to keep the commandments, Jehovah took them to the desert to try and tempt them to find out if they were worthy to inherit the Promised Land. The text says: “You shall observe to do all the commandment which I command you this day, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which Jehovah swore to your fathers. You shall remember all the way which Jehovah your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not” (Deut. 8:1-2).
The bigwig adopts a regimen of terror. He treads on, humiliates, tries, lets the person go hungry, and woe of the one who complains. Israel complained in the desert, and they all died in there (Num. 14:28-30). They were more than a million persons, for 603,550 were just the men prepared for war (Num. 1:46). The regimen of the big boss, that is, the Almighty, was the regimen of iron. This was not a theocracy, but a violent tyranny. Look at what he said: “As I live, says the Lord JEHOVAH, surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you” (Ezek. 20:33). Rehoboam, son of Solomon, after the death of his father, took over the throne of Israel, but left the law of Jehovah together with all Israel. “It happened in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had trespassed against Jehovah, with twelve hundred chariots, and sixty thousand horsemen. The people were without number who came with him out of Egypt: the Lubim, the Sukkiim, and the Ethiopians. He took the fortified cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. Now Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, who were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, ‘Thus says Jehovah, “You have forsaken me, therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.”’ Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, ‘Jehovah is righteous.’ When Jehovah saw that they humbled themselves, the word of Jehovah came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them; but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants, that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries’” (2 Chr. 12:2-8).
The almighty Jehovah declares with his mouth that his was a tyrannical and proslavery regimen. The yoke was so heavy that the people opt to return to Egypt, but the boss, offended, killed them all in the desert (Num. 14:1-4; 14:28-29).
The godfathers of the Italian mafia created a regimen of terror so they would be feared and obeyed. The Almighty used the same method. He produced such a dark show on Mount Sinai, when he gave his law, that no one was able to bear it: “For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, storm, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, for they could not stand that which was commanded, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned; and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling” (Heb. 12:18-21). The people were also so terrified with the infernal picture as to say to Moses: “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex. 20:19). The people were terrified! Moses was terrified! When David numbered the people in obedience to the orders of the very Jehovah and was unjustly considered guilty, Jehovah was between heaven and earth with a drawn sword in his hand to destroy Jerusalem. The vision was so hellish and dark that David could not go near to plead with Jehovah, because he was terrified (2 Sam. 24:1,15-16; 1 Chr. 21:30). David, the chosen of Jehovah, the anointed, and the messiah, terrified? What about the less protected? David said: “My heart is severely pained within me. The terrors of death have fallen on me. Fearfulness and trembling have come on me. Horror has overwhelmed me” (Ps. 55:4-5). Another psalmist exclaims: “But to you, Jehovah, I have cried. In the morning, my prayer comes before you. Jehovah, why do you reject my soul? Why do you hide your face from me? I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up. While I suffer your terrors, I am distracted. Your fierce wrath has gone over me. Your terrors have cut me off” (Ps. 88:13-16). From his childhood the poor psalmist did not know the reasons for the terrors of Jehovah, which afflicted him terribly!
Let us look at Job, now, the sincere and correct man: fearing of Jehovah, according to him, and who avoided evil (Job 1:8). Jehovah so devastated this faithful and righteous man, that he raised his voice, saying: “Withdraw your hand far from me; and don’t let your terror make me afraid” (Job 13:21). Here in this chapter Job addresses the Almighty (Job 13:3). Job also said: “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me. My spirit drinks up their poison. The terrors of God set themselves in array against me” (Job 6:4). If Jehovah revealed only the face of terror to the righteous, correct, and faithful Job, it is easy to realize that he is not the God who is love (Job 4:8).
Jehovah reveals himself to people who have never seen him or known him as the god of terror, and not the God of love. Before they went into Canaan, Jehovah told them: “I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come” (Ex. 23:27). God, the Father, sent his love before him, saying by the mouth of John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The people of God in the New Testament received the task of revealing the terror of Jehovah to all the nations. Here is what he said: “This day will I begin to put the dread of you and the fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole sky” (Deut. 2:25).
Which is the god whom you, reader, follow? —The god of terror or the god of love?
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira