In his book The God of Old, author James Kugel makes a surprising observation about how the ancient Israelites saw God in their lives. God, it turns out, was something like an obvious, tangible presence. God wasn’t an abstract concept that one had theological debates over. God just was. And sometimes this God was in our space, and in our faces, in the form of miracles, prophets, angels (who were really just flesh and blood people), architecture, the weather and all sorts of things.
As the author states on his website:
The God of Old was not invisible or abstract. He appeared to people – usually unexpectedly; He was not sought out. Often, He was not even recognized. Many biblical stories thus center on a “moment of confusion,” in which an encounter with god is at first mistaken for an ordinary, human meeting. In the biblical world, Kugel shows, the spiritual and the material overlapped: everyday perception was in constant danger of sliding into something else, stark but oddly familiar. God was always standing just behind the curtain of ordinary reality.
Side note: I’ll never get over the fact that one of my favorite Bible scholars has a last name that translates to a casserole often made with noodles or potatoes. The fact that there is a genius in this world running around with a pot luck dish for a last name gives me a joy that is indescribable.