God’s Gentleness!

Exodus 15:11
Who is like thee, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like thee, majestic in holiness,
terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

Early in its history, Israel was what scholars refer to as “henotheistic.”  This three-dollar word means that, while Israel worshipped only one God (Yahweh) it did not necessarily believe that there were not other, rather nasty “gods” or “powers” or whatnot out there too.  Today’s verse reflects this early and unformed belief.  Surrounded by pagan nations with a large pantheon of deities, Israel did not instantly form a crystal clear doctrine of monotheism.  Instead, it recognized that God was greater than all the alternatives presented it by Egypt and the Canaanite nations, but it took Israel some time to figure out not only that God was the greatest God, but that He was, in fact, the only God there ever was or ever would be and all the competitors were either figments of human imagination or demonic lies.  God never seems to have been too hard on Israel for this mistaken apprehension.  When, as in the passage above, Israel rejoiced in the thought that God was greater than Osiris or Baal, He never harshly rebuked them for the mere intellectual blunder of thinking there were other gods out there.  Rather, He harshly rebuked them for the moral sin of worshipping those other gods.  It’s the same today.  God deals with us gently in our ignorance.  But when we sin against what we know to be true, we sin indeed.  Today, be true to what is true.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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