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THE QUESTION: In the OldTestament, God seems to be verydifferent than the loving Fatherdepicted by Jesus in the NewTestament. In the Old Testament,isn‟t God nothing more than aruthless and cruel tyrant whoorders the killing of innocentwomen and children…?
“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after pageit describes God as a mass murderer.” - Robert Wilson“The God of the Old Testament is utterly unlike the Godbelieved in by most practicing Christians … His justice is, bymodern standards, outrageous…. He is biased, querulous,vindictive, and jealous of his prerogatives.” - Charles Templeton“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasantcharacter in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust,unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethniccleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal,genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal,sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” - Richard Dawkins
God ruthlessly carried out or ordered the heartless execution ofinnocent men, women, and children; He is, in essence, a moralmonster. Examples include:“Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy allflesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on theearth shall perish." (Genesis 6:17)“When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering topossess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and theGirgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and theHivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and whenthe Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shallutterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show nofavor to them.” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)
God ruthlessly carried out or ordered the heartless execution ofinnocent men, women, and children; He is, in essence, a moralmonster. Examples include:“Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is givingyou as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything thatbreathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and theAmorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and theJebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deuteronomy20:16-17)“Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, anddo not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, childand infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.“ (1 Samuel 15:3)
Involves an examination of the following topics:• The nature of God as described in the Bible• The consistency of God in the Old/New Testaments• How the Bible records historical events• The historical backdrop of the events in question• The pattern of God‟s justice• The seeming harsh Old Testament laws
How does the Bible describe God‟s character?• Omnibenevolent – All-good and righteous Judge • “And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 9:8) • "Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity." (Psalms 98:9)• Immutability – God does not change • “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) • “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind” (Numbers 23:19) • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)
God‟s love and mercy are very much on display in both the Oldand New Testaments.
Genesis 19 records the event of Lot offering his two virgin daughters to themen of Sodom instead of allowing them to molest the two angels that hadcome into his house.Judges 19:22-30 records a Levite allowing his concubine to be brutallyraped to the point of death. He then dismembers her into twelve pieces andsends them to the tribes of Israel.… Note that the Bible records these actions but does not approve them.
God did not flippantly disown people from their lands and give them to the Jewishpeople. Rather, it was a judgment of God upon them:“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them [the people in the land] out beforeyou, „Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,‟ but it is becauseof the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for yourrighteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it isbecause of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you,in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”(Deuteronomy 9:4-5)“For whoever does these things [occultic practices and other atrocities] is detestable to the Lord; andbecause of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. “You shall beblameless before the Lord your God.” (Deut 18:9-12)"„Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting outbefore you have become defiled. „For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought itspunishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants." (Leviticus 18:24-25)
“Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lordout of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all theinhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground." (Genesis 19:24-25)• Lived in a good land (Gen 13.10-12)• Abraham saved their cities once, in a masterful military maneuver (Gen 14)• They were exposed to/had access to the pure message of God through Melchizedek--the priest-king of Salem (and likely Abraham‟s witness). Exposed to the truth for at least 25 years• Proud of their sin (Isaiah 3.9: “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.”)• Crimes were both against God (Gen 13.13) and against people (Gen 18.20)• God had announced His intentions to Abraham in Gen 18, and agreed to spare the city if a few righteous could be found. Apparently, only Lot and his family (less than the required ten!) fit the description so the entire culture was judged and destroyed by God. All children died swiftly rather than be orphaned, starve, sold as slaves.• The encounter involving Lot, the angels, and the men of the city is a vivid description of the evil of the city (Gen 19), and the New Testament refers to it as an example of judgment-future (2 Pet 2.6) with a special emphasis on sexual perversion (Jude 7). The fact that all the men of the city were involved in the intended assault on Lot, indicates that the outcry must have come from surrounding areas-- hence, the international scope of their evil.
“The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land,from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that Ihave made them.”" (Genesis 6:7)• As with Sodom, the innocent spared by God and there is only one man and his household• The evil/violence of the people were both against God and against humanity (Gen 6.12) and was VERY EXTENSIVE ("filled“; v. 6)• Some of the evil was probably sexual violence or violation (Gen 6.1-2)• Noah apparently "preached righteousness" to these people for AT LEAST a hundred years! (cf. 2 Pet 2.5).• This long period of preaching was an act of patience on Gods part (1 Pet 3.20)• In spite of the warnings, there were apparently no changed minds• Lets note again that (1) they had plenty of access to truth (at LEAST 100 years) and at least a year of specific flood warnings‟
"You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you todo what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walkin their statutes." (Leviticus 18:3)• Descended from Ham. (Gen. 10:6.)• An accursed line (“Cursed be Canaan…”, Noah in Gen. 9:25)• Very idolatrous ("moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold, which they had with them;" (Deuteronomy 29:17)• Extremely brutal and cruel, with the practice of incest, bestiality, homosexuality, cultic prostitution, and child sacrifice (by throwing their own children into altars of fire) performed. (“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,” Deuteronomy 18:9-10; cf. Deut. 12:31)• Did indeed trap Israel: " "They did not destroy the peoples, As the Lord commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, and served their idols, Which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds." (Psalm 106:36-39)
"God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in aland that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundredyears…Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of theAmorite is not yet complete." (Genesis 15:13-16)"Sudden and violent destruction occurred throughout much of the ancient world ca. 2300-2100 B.C.Palestinian civilization returned to the village level, with many sites abandoned and others leftunfortified, a situation that continued through the early stages of the Middle Bronze period (until ca.1950 B.C.). While many factors may have been involved, especially significant were Egyptian raidsand mass population movements, at the center of which were the Amorites."(A.C. Myers,International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.)“Walled cities were destroyed or abandoned, and urban culture gave way to a pastoral, villageway of life over the next two centuries, Early Bronze Age IV (about 2300-2000). The reasons for suchdrastic changes are unclear, but three possible causes may be suggested: (1) Egyptian military action,(2) changing environmental factors including overpopulation, or (3) an invading horde of Amorites.The Amorites would have destroyed the urban centers and established the variant lifestylecharacteristic of the period until urbanization flowered in the subsequent Middle Bronze Age II.”(K.N.Schoville, Peope of the Old Testament World164)
"They utterly destroyed everything in the city [Jericho], both man and woman,young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword."(Joshua 6:21)•Canaanites populated Jericho•Exhibited same behavior as stated on prior slide•Participated in cultic prostitution, bestiality (likely the reason for the killing of the animals), and child sacrifice by fire•Rahab and her household were spared•Rahab knew of Israel‟s victories and God (Josh. 2:9); the rest of the city must have also known
“Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not sparehim; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, cameland donkey." (1 Samuel 15:3)• Wicked and warlike people; the first to oppose Israel after the Exodus (Ex. 17:8)• Name means “plunderer”. Were not to be displaced by Israel but chose to attack the Jews• Likely aware of land promises to Israel as descendents of Esau• Would attack and murder the weak, elderly, and others who lagged behind the people (Deut 25:17-19)• Consistently allied themselves with other nations to commit genocide against Israel (Judges 6:3-5)• Given 400 years by God to repent• Innocent bands of people told to move away from Amalek so they would not perish (1 Sam. 15:5); would also serve as warning to Amalek for those who could leave to do so• Saul commissioned to completely destroy, but he disobeyed (1 Sam. 15:9-26); remnant finally overcome by Hezekiah (1 Chron. 4:41-43)• Haman, the chief “villain” in Esther was of Amalek descent; tried to commit genocide against the Jews• Israel used as a judgment against them
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he [Samson] went downto Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes ofclothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to hisfather‟s house.” (Judges 14:19)•Bible naysayers decry Samson‟s murder of 30 men of Ashkelon descent (Judges 14:19)•One of the cities of the Philistines – a people who were oppressing and brutalizing Israel•Samson‟s “companions” who were of Ashkelon descent threaten to murder (by fire) Samson‟s finance and family if she didn‟t reveal the secret of the wager Samson had made with them (indicating what kind of people they were)•Primary gods were Dagon, Ashtoreth (spouse of Baal; worship consisted of temple prostitution), and Baalzebub•Samson used as a part of God‟s judgment against the Philistines
"The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go toNineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up beforeMe." (Jonah 1:1-2)• Nineveh was populated by the Assyrians (non-Jews); it was the ancient capital of Assyria• The Assyrians were incredibly barbaric. When archaelogists uncovered Nineveh, TV specials had to be filtered because the evidence of brutality was so great. As an example, the Assyrians used to slowly impale their victims by sliding them down sharp poles. They also made handbags from their victim‟s skins• In a stone pillar, one Assyrian ruler boasted of nobles I flayed. He reported: Three thousand captives I burned with fire. I left not one hostage alive. I cut off the hands and feet of some. I cut off the noses, ears and fingers of others. The eyes of numerous soldiers I put out. Maidens I burned as a holocaust.• This was why Jonah did not want to go; he didn‟t want these people spared. But God desired their rescue: “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?" (Jonah 4:11)
“He [Jonah] prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I saidwhile I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled toTarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow toanger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerningcalamity. (Jonah 4:2)God is described by Jonah to be gracious, compassionate, andloving – the same as He is found to be in the New Testament.
"And He will stretch out His hand against the north and destroyAssyria, and He will make Nineveh a desolation, parched like thewilderness." (Zephaniah 2:13)•Nineveh was first spared by God because they repented!•Nineveh originally repented at the preaching of Jonah, but then went back to its evil ways•God then used the Babylonians and Medes to destroy Nineveh in 612 BC. No warning was given this time•"Though Nineveh was like a pool of water throughout her days, Now they are fleeing; “Stop, stop,” But no one turns back." (Nahum 2:8) "She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and waste!" (Nahum 2:10)“Ive never seen anything like this mass of tangled bodies with weapons in the midst ofthem. The desperation of the defense is now manifest.” Archaeologist David Stronach of theUniversity of California at Berkeley, speaking about what they found at Nineveh.
Catapult the practices, genocide, and barbarism of these cultures/peoples into the21st century, broadcast it around the world via CNN, and see if there wouldn‟t beglobal outcry for severe military action and punishment…If we would call for such severe judgment, why criticize God for carrying it out?
God declares an annihilation form of judgment to stamp out a cancer The judgments are for public recognition of extreme sin Judgment preceded by warning and/or long periods of exposure to the truth and time to repentAny and all „innocent‟ adults given a way of escape with their families; sometimes all given away to avoid judgment (Expulsion from land was most common judgment, not extermination) Someone is always saved (redeemed) from the evil culture Judgment
"Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nationsthat I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land wasdefiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. Butyou must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens livingamong you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things weredone by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land becamedefiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out thenations that were before you. "`Everyone who does any of these detestablethings - such persons must be cut off from their people.” - Lev. 18.24-29; also Lev. 20.22 Notice the punishment was expulsion from the land, not extermination
When Israel sinned in the fashion of Canaan, etc., their fate was the same“Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "This is what the LORD God Almighty, theGod of Israel, says: `If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, yourlife will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family willlive. But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this citywill be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourselfwill not escape from their hands." (Jeremiah 38:17-18)"This is what the LORD says: `Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword,famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He willescape with his life; he will live.„ And this is what the LORD says: `This city willcertainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it."(Jeremiah 38:2-3)Notice the pattern: submit to judgment and live. Their choice…
•Typical Israeli rules of war included a warning period and declaration of impeding war. Women, children, the elderly, and others who wished could easily flee far ahead of the military attack. Only those who stubbornly remained would face war•In cases such as Saul and Amalek, the culture itself was thoroughly corrupt; there was no hope for any child who remained behind. Further, those children were spared the depravity of that culture and went to Heaven (children who die before they know good or evil do; (2 Sam. 12:23))•Socially and physically, the fate of children throughout history has always been with their parents whether that‟s good (in the case of Noah) or bad (Amalek). The actions of the parents were the final determinant in the well-being of the children•Haman is a perfect example of allowing a wicked ancestral line to continue where a child grows up and threatens the entire Israeli nation
“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey hisfather or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not evenlisten to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bringhim out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown.“They shall say to the elders of his city, „This son of ours is stubbornand rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.‟“Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shallremove the evil from your midst..." (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
• The fifth commandment very serious for the health and well being of a community. One of the few practices seen in all world religions• Parents viewed as God‟s earthly representatives so disobedience was actually against God• Family not given the right of execution; elders had to confirm and allow• Numbers 35:31 allowed for a ransom to be paid for capital punishment crimes that did not involve the taking of a human life• Never a record in Scripture of this being carried out• Purpose was to instill obedience to God in a theocracy that was unique in history: • “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you." (Deuteronomy 13:11) • “Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again." (Deuteronomy 17:13) • “… and all Israel will hear of it and fear." (Deuteronomy 21:21)
"For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, asabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death."(Exodus 35:2)"Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood onthe sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaronand to all the congregation; and they put him in custody because it had not been declaredwhat should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put todeath; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” So all thecongregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just asthe Lord had commanded Moses." (Numbers 15:32-36)
"„But when you unwittingly fail and do not observe all these commandments…Then the priest shall makeatonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and they will be forgiven; for it was an error, andthey have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, fortheir error…Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sinoffering. „The priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who goes astray when he sinsunintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven. „You shall have one law for him whodoes anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien whosojourns among them. „But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or analien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.„Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall becompletely cut off; his guilt will be on him.‟ " (Numbers 15:22-31)These verses precede the account of the Sabbath breaker in Num. 15:32-36 and show thatthe honest/innocent person who violated the Sabbath was forgiven. The lesson is that theone who had the judgment carried out against him was a defiant lawbreaker and in openrebellion towards God.
• Joseph Stalin 42,672,000 murdered• Mao Zedong 37,828,000 murdered• Adolf Hitler 20,946,000 murdered• Chiang Kai-shek 10,214,000 murdered• Vladimir Lenin 4,017,000 murdered• Hideki Tojo 3,990,000 murdered• Pol Pot 2,397,000 murdered“Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed,burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombedor killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed,helpless citizens and foreigners.” - R. J. Rummel, Death by Government
•“The wheels of God‟s justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.” – A. W. Tozer•God is amazingly patient towards sinners and nations when it comes to repentance, but there comes a time when that patience runs out, both for nations and individuals•America, like the Amorites of long ago, may be in the stage where its iniquity is “not yet complete”; how much longer does this country have left?•Parents (and men in particular) need to understand that their decisions (right and wrong) have major impacts on their families•From an eschatological (end times) angle, we see that God‟s pattern is to rescue His people and then judgment falls.
• The charge that God carried out the senseless massacre of innocent people is completely false; the nations received judgment from God after failing to repent over hundreds of years• Israel itself received judgment from God for abandoning God; the Babylonians and the Assyrians were used as tools of God‟s judgment just as God used Israel to judge the other nations• The fact that God used imperfect and wicked nations as tools of judgment should not be surprising; God is perfectly able to draw a straight line with a crooked stick• God has not changed; He remains the same. His love and mercy are extended to all, but there is a point at which He brings judgment upon those who will not repent of their evil deeds. God said He‟d spare Sodom if ten righteous men could be found, but none were… (Gen. 18:32)• Finally, remember that atheist/naturalistic regimes (Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.) have murdered tens of millions of innocent men, women, and children. Atheism, not God, is the real force behind the mass murders of history