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The fact that God commanded the killing of entire nations in the Old Testament has been the subject of harsh criticism from opponents of Christianity for some time. That there was violence in the O...
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There is no doubt that there is so much violence recorded in the bible that most of us shudder to imagine that it actually happened. Imagine even parents eating their own children for dinner due to a famine! Fact is, God allowed these parts to form part of the Bible. We are all agreed that God inspired the writers in the Bible, why wouldn’t He just select those nice areas and omit the violent ones? The answer is very simple. The Bible depicts a God of infinite love, who would not spare anything to save lost humanity. He even gave His only begotten Son to humanity to be part of them forever. The bible also shows us clearly that God when He created Man, told him to live by certain rules. As long as he lived and lived by those rules, everything would remain perfect. Man had to believe and have faith that God is right, that He is their Creator and knows what was best for them. Up to this point there was no violence and no problems, everything was very good. However, the moment Man doubted that God was their Creator and knew what was best for them, they lost faith in God and opened the door to untold suffering, just like God had said to them. God is Omniscient and Almighty, but He operates within certain self-imposed rules – He will not force anyone to obey or do His will. Everyone on His creatures are free to either love Him or reject Him. However, every choice has a consequence. You will notice that soon after sin entered the human race, one sibling murders another. In fact, violence spread so fast, it is not surprising that God had to destroy the world by Noah’s flood. There was a risk that the thread of Humanity that was supposed to lead up to the birth of Jesus was going to be polluted and lost for ever, and thus shut the door to the salvation of mankind. The violence is not of God’s making but a consequence of the choices that we humans make time after time. Sin has depraved us humans to the extent that we actually enjoy violence. God simply allowed the writers of the bible to record things as they were. God would not forge biblical history, He lets you and me read it and know that sin is evil. Sin depraves human beings to the extent that they can cry out “Let His blood be upon us and our children!” Sin makes Man so creative in inventing torture equipment such as the cross, to make another human being wish they were never born. Sin has made Man rapists, murderers, thieves and robbers. That is why these incidents of horrific violence are recorded in the bible. When you have read these incidents and you are shaking with disgust, direct that disgust towards sin and the devil for he is the father of it. At the same time think back and imagine what life could have been like if Adam had said NO to Eve on that morning in the garden. Then worry not because the same God is still there saying I have raised another Adam who conquered Satan. Rev 21:1-5 tells us of a new heaven and a new earth where there will no violence. Whilst the violence recorded in the bible may give us nightmares, our God who sees the future long before it has passed Has seen that there is a perfect world made new. It is also a question of choice, whether we want to be there or not. God will not force anyone, He simply presents the facts and lets us decide what we want, then respects our choices. Of course it makes God very sad indeed when we make poor choices. Violence in the bible is a direct consequence of sin.
Greeting In Christ Jesus, I would augment Michael’s most excellent answer with a reminder of the culture and practices of that day. We look back from a different view after grace has come and the influence of the love of God through grace and say that is horrible. Yet in that day and time it was the norm. These people passed their culture down to each other through verbal means of storytelling very little is written down. A living being was a book that would keep these traditions and practices alive. I would add rape, theft, maiming, cannibalism, disfiguration and slavery of children for sexual purposes was quite common in these extreme societies. Some were so violent and malevolent to those around them that an example was made in the hope that others would not follow. You would not characterize the death of terrorist or Nazi's and there support groups as evil, but a solution to end evil. You must consider the source of these accusations and the word choices, information provided or intentionally left out are used to manipulate the perspective of the hearer. The terms Atheist and Agnostic are a bad description of a “scoffer” as they actively seek to discredit or turn away believers from the truth of the scripture. Indiscriminate racist targeting of innocents By God is not found anywhere in the scripture. It is always a response to the behavior of the inhabitants of the land and their choices to ignore and turn their back on Gods laws and expectations for His creation. No one was ever destroyed without warning it is documented throughout scripture, consider Noah, Jonah and many others every punishment followed a chance or many chances and much patience to repent and turn from their sin. We see quite clearly after a while God says he will not punish everyone but hold individuals accountable, scripture is a progressive record of God attempting to reason with men as he does not want to see any perish. He gave the law to outline ethical behavior of human beings. If you turn from your sin it will not be remembered if you are good and change, your good will not be remembered is reached through progressive stages and attempts to change behavior norms. You can take this to the bank God is good and there is no evil in him, He allowed His beloved son to take our punishment for us, what more can be done to demonstrate His love. I have heard it said “why does He allow this or that" because they do not understand it is about you, not Him, you must prove yourself worthy even unto death. Who is a true friend the one by choice or force, that is why the choice is ours and He intervenes when we ask and yet some choices involve others in a larger picture or macro view and the answer is: "be true, take your stand, endure”, remember He controls life and death, to us, death is permanent, because we have no power, to Him, who has all power, life and death are found in His word. This life is a qualifying event for the one to come, will you receive a glorified body or spend eternity separated from the one thing that can fill that hole in your heart; Gods presence. Maranatha
In the quite difficult question of why God commanded the Israelites to slay completely certain nations, a skeptic might eagerly charge that the God of the Hebrews ordered immoral, ethnic cleansing, and that His behavior was no better than any genocidal despot might undertake. A lover of Scripture might counter that, in war, God allows certain things to happen that are unexplainable; after all, though our God is omnipotent, yet He did allow the Holocaust. Why didn't the universe's all-powerful Creator stop that? Such unexplained moral angst is encompassed by the mystery of sin and suffering still in our earth, while we await the time when "we shall know, as we are known." Surely, we can say there are the unanswered moral questions over why ANY war of any era has shattered the peace. But there is a more arresting key to understanding the disputed moral dilemma of the slaughter of the Canaanites: the accompanying miraculous signs from Yahweh God Himself! Never again in history -- NEVER AGAIN -- did a nation witness 10 divine plagues which delivered them (probably well over a million souls) from slavery. Never again in history did God open the treacherous, roiling depths of the Red Sea and make a path through on dry land for one nation. Never again did God bring forth water from the rock, and manna from heaven. Never again was there a theocratic nation so guided -- shadowed by the pillar of cloud by day and lightened by one of fire throughout their nights. Never again would a nation tremble before a burning mount, hearing the very voice of God. Never again, in all of history, would a nation's army be so commanded by the visible signs of Almighty God. Any warring nation today who would sally forth into wholesale destruction of an entire nation, all the while claiming God's direct sanction, would be polishing their weapons with a wicked lie -- warriors boasting, without a shred of evidence, that God was ordering them to do genocide! Before His judgment against the Canaanite nations, Almighty God, Yahweh, waited 400 years -- even while His people were most grievously afflicted in Egypt -- "because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." God's miraculous signs and wonders were so ubiquitously displayed that the nations about, who knew of the Red Sea opening up for the Jews, were wide-eyed terrified of the God of Israel. The Canaanite wars were overseen by God Himself, with unmistakable signs of His very presence among the Jews. Yahweh alone, Maker of heaven and earth, has sovereign sway over the judgment of nations. God had at least two purposes in His commands for war: 1) judge the Canaanite nations (only a limited number of near-by nations; those further off were not under such a liquidation mandate); 2) fulfill His Divinely enacted transfer of the land, promised through the Abrahamic covenant. In any ongoing history -- prior to Messiah's final conquest of the nations -- shall any present-day tyrant, warrior, or jihadist expect such heavenly manifestations to support his warring ideations? NEVER AGAIN. We look for the day when the nations will learn war no more. The day when our Warrior-Redeemer-King shall come on the clouds, and "every eye shall see Him." "Even so, come, LORD Jesus."
The original question was 'Why is there so much death in the Old Testament in the name of God?' That's very different from the one here; the question about death is far more central to the context of old testament teaching. There is no guarantee of first hand violence being experienced by all of mankind. (I know plenty of people who have never been in a fist fight) All will have a date with death, however. The basic point of life under the old testament agreement with God was that the people in covenant agreement with God could remain in fellowship with him if they obeyed his law and kept his statutes. And even though they would experience physical death (the same as the rest of mankind), he had a future plan for them; he would send a Savior who would deliver them from the penalty for sin which is the second death (the destruction of the soul). It was up to them; obey and live, or disobey and die. The intriguing part for me, is that he chose them out of the blue; in that they had no choice. They were his people because he chose them; they had to obey or suffer the consequences. The same is true for all of us now. We either live in Christ or die; there is no other name (person) given among men (in this realm of life) by which we can be saved (from the destruction of our soul) (Acts 4:12) (there will be wailing...) All of mankind is offered a new agreement (testament); no strings attached; Jesus, when he died on the Cross, paid the penalty for all sin for all times. (He died a violent death) Come to the ark before it's too late and the door is shut. (Jesus is the ark of the new covenant) Here's the thing: the wages of sin is death, not violence. "Death in the name of God..." In the name of means, 'by the authority of God.' All death is by the authority of God. There is no injustice on God's part if he kills us all at the same time. It behooves us to come to a right understanding of that! Sin brings forth death! We can't say we weren't warned!
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