From a humanities perspective, God’s word to us is a study in contrasts. Distinctions of people, places and things are noted on page after page. The Creator, who dwells in unapproachable light, provided those created in His image with eyes to see and ears to hear so as to discern the dissimilarities with a handbook of juxtapositions as a guide. And so, we read of light and darkness, good and evil, love and hatred and much, much more. Let’s take a look.
At the beginning of the God and human narrative one can read of a void and then a creation, of night and day, of sea and dry land, of heaven and earth, of human and animal, of male and female, of right and wrong choices, and of the garden and not the garden.
Later we learn of Egypt and the Promised Land and of leeks and garlic and of milk and honey.
Israel is given the Ten Commandments to contrast right from wrong behavior towards God and others.
Slavery or freedom are predominant alternatives posed to Israel.
Israel must choose between serving idols or serving the One True God.
The Torah provides Godly practices to do and unclean pagan practices to avoid.
The Psalms of Solomon (eighteen psalms) serve a didactic role as they describe the ways of sinners and their end and the way of the righteous and their end.
The wisdom literature of Proverbs encourages us to consider the ways of the wise and the foolish.
Ecclesiastes talks about contrasting seasons and perspectives.
The prophets reminded Israel of the alienating contrast between seeking God’s hometown blessing through obedience and exile from the City of Peace because of disobedience. Isaiah contrasts the fate of the Babylonians and Israel (Is. 26).
Daniel the scribe presents us his account of dreams and visions which contrast beastly rulers and beastly empires with the coming righteous and just reign of the Son of Man.
The intertestamental Jewish writings repeat and augment the differences found in the Old Testament:
Unrighteous rulers and the Messiah; Antiochus IV Epiphanes and The King of the Universe (2 Maccabees)
Fallen angels and holy ones of God (1 Enoch 15)
The fate of the unrighteous and the righteous at the time of the resurrection and judgment (4 Ezra 7).
The Gospels record the polarizing life and teaching of Jesus. Here, briefly, are some of the dichotomies Jesus presents through parables and encounters:
Sand and rock.
Lost and found.
Blind and seeing.
Out of your mind and in your right mind.
Pride and humility.
Wheat and chaff.
Sheep and goats.
Water and wine and the best wine.
Blessings (Matthew 5) and woes (Matthew 23).
Virtue signaling righteousness and honest to goodness righteousness.
Truth and untruth.
The world and the kingdom of God.
The self-righteous and the humble.
The wide way and the narrow way.
Faith and sight.
Life and death.
First and last.
There is a contrast within no contrast: the rain falls on the just and the unjust.
The fierceness of Jesus’ gaze and his tears over Jerusalem and at a funeral.
(Jesus does not contrast the rich and poor as do Progressives based on their power-gathering political ideology. Instead, Jesus contrasted the poverty of material mindedness with the richness of righteousness mindedness.)
The Epistles continue the contrast narrative begun in the Old Testament and reiterated in the Jewish writings between the testaments. With this univocal background and the unequivocal words of Jesus, the writers of the epistles provide the theology and practical application of the Kingdom of God on earth using opposites. Here is a list of some those:
The righteous and the unrighteous.
The justified and the unjust.
The reprobate and the rescued
Those who have exchanged truth for a lie and those who dwell in truth.
Those who do not acknowledge God and those who
Those with a stubborn and unrepentant heart and those who “by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life”.
The glorious inheritance in Christ and the minimum wage of death
There are those who say you may have faith but I have works and those who show their faith by their works.
Those who live by faith and those who live by sight.
Those who say one thing and do another and those who love in word and deed.
False teaching and teaching that has been handed down.
The physical body and the spiritual body.
The body used for immorality and the body as the temple of God.
Saints and sinners.
The Levitical priesthood and Melchizedek’s priesthood.
Light and darkness.
Throughout Scripture we read of the people of God and the enemies of God. The opposing forces clash in the last days. They and the whole universe reach a summing point in Jesus.
The Apostle John, in The Revelation of Jesus Christ, testifies that mankind’s entrenched polar opposites come together for the Lord of the Universe’s final division:
The letter begins with a heart-stopping contrast: “I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
Seven letters to churches delineate “well done” times and sharp warnings about dysfunctional times.
John’s apocalyptic letter details…
Those written in the book of life and those not written in the book of life.
Hades and Heaven.
The lake of fire and the river of the water of life.
Demonic forces and angels.
Satan and the Son of Man.
The Beast and the Lamb.
A war to end all wars and a peace to end all wars.
The lion and the lamb.
Despite all the bally-hoo touting rainbow-colored “diversity, in the end all of the temporary social constructs will be torn down to reveal the definer of persons and groups to be result of choices each has made with black and white alternatives. Note, Jesus did not say, “I am for your way and your truth and your lifestyle”. Even Jesus did not choose his own way but the Father’s. Had Jesus chosen that which was offered to him by the Satan in the desert and later by Pontius Pilate where would mankind be?
With all of the contrasts, binaries, dichotomies and lack of ambiguities in the God and human narrative that are re-voiced from start to finish, it’s as if God wanted us to “choose this day whom we will serve”.
In C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra novel, Ransom questions the Green Lady. He is trying to understand why he was invited to Perelandra and about its world and its ways. At one point the Green Lady responds:
“Since our Beloved became a man, how can reason in any world take another form? Do you not understand? That is all over. Among times there is a time that turns a corner and everything this side of it is new. Times do not go backward.”