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Shavua Tov

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  • Daniel Botkin

OCD and Autistic Traits in the Godhead?

Autistic people are often afflicted with severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). We have seen this in our autistic daughter Autumn. Each of Autumn’s things (clothes, books, toys, etc.) has its proper place and must not be set down in a different place. Her regular activities (getting dressed, eating, getting ready for bed, etc.) must be done according to a specific routine. Any deviation from the normal routine causes her distress and can lead to a severe meltdown.

I do not want to sound sacrilegious, but it seems to me that some of these same traits exist in God’s personality. If you don’t think so, read through Exodus and Leviticus. When God gave commandments concerning the Tabernacle, He warned Moses, “See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5, referencing Ex. 25:40).

God had a precise pattern for the Tabernacle .He was very picky about how each item was to be made and exactly where it was to be placed. He gave detailed instructions regarding which sorts of animals were to be offered, how they were to be slaughtered, and what was to be done with the blood and the various body parts and organs. God gave strict rules about how the priests were to be dressed and anointed, and what they were to do and not do in the Tabernacle.

God established a routine for them to follow. When the people followed the routine and did everything “as the LORD commanded Moses,” then “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). When the people prepared the sacrifices “as the LORD commanded Moses,” then “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people,” and “a fire came out from before the LORD” and consumed the sacrifices, showing that God had accepted their sacrifices (Lev. 9:23f).

But right after this, Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, deviated from the pattern. They “offered strange fire before the LORD, which He commanded them not” (Lev. 10:1).

Just as a deviation from the usual routine can cause an autistic person to have a meltdown, so this deviation from the Divinely prescribed routine caused a meltdown of sorts. God’s wrath was kindled and the fire of God devoured Nadab and Abihu.

Another common trait among autistic people is their enjoyment of the constant repetition of the same short snippet of a song or movie over and over again for a long period of time.

Our daughter Autumn used to watch Veggie Tales on a laptop computer. But instead of watching the program from start to finish, often she would stop somewhere in the middle of the program, then rewind and replay just a short segment over and over again. We would hear Larry the cucumber say something like “Bob, look out!” [short pause] “Bob, look out! [short pause] “Bob, look out!” [short pause] “Bob, look out!” over and over and over again.

A high-functioning autistic man on YouTube explains the reason for this. He says if an autistic person enjoys seeing or hearing something one time, they will enjoy it just as much the second, third, and one-hundredth time they see or hear it. The newness of the pleasure never grows old for them. The constant repetition drives the people around them nuts, but it gives the autistic people enjoyment.

This same love of repetition apparently exists in God’s personality. For as long as the Tabernacle or Temple stood, God wanted to see and hear and smell the same sights and sounds and odors of the sacrificial system He established. For all the centuries between Moses and Messiah (except for the seventy years in Babylon, when there was no Temple), God watched the same sacrificial ceremonies, and heard the same prayers and bells, and smelled the same burning sacrifices and incense over and over and over again. And God took pleasure in it, except when the worshippers were living sinful lives.

We see God’s love of repetition also illustrated in Revelation, which describes four living creatures that dwell before God’s throne. The Bible says “they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).

We do not know how long ago in the distant past these four glorious creatures were created. But for their entire existence they have been repeating the same words day and night, without rest, over and over and over again throughout the centuries, and will probably continue to do so for all eternity. God created them to do this, so apparently God takes pleasure in hearing the same snippet over and over and over again, like autistic people do.

Does this mean God is autistic and is afflicted with OCD? Of course not. But when we think of mankind - all mankind, including autistic people - as being created in the image of God in a collective sense, perhaps autistic people reflect that aspect of God’s character that loves routine and repetition.

| DB


Image: Psalm 66 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms Gallery. See this and all Daniel’s artwork on his art website,

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