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If God’s a God of Love then….Part Two


Recently I was posed the following question:

Why did God order a whole generation including CHILDREN to be slaughtered in the Old Testament and why does He seem to change from a God of vengeance and judgment in the Old to a God of mercy and grace in the New Testament?

In Part One, I shared instances of God extending grace and opportunities to repent to those nations sitting in the bull’s-eye of God’s judgment.  Other examples can be found in Jonah’s reluctant ministry to the people of Nineveh and the sound of Noah’s mallet hammering out a message about an imminent global flood.

But what about God’s call to annihilate entire people groups, including babies and children?

First, let’s examine something God told Abraham.  Genesis 15: 13-16 shares:

13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

Notice God stays His righteous hand of judgment on the Canaanites for 400 years!  God extends a 400 year grace period!  This once again attests to the longsuffering and patience of a God who wants

“none to perish but all to come to repentance.”

Note the phrase:

“Has not reached its full measure.”

By the time the Canaanite’s sin had reached its full measure, they practiced ritual prostitution and child sacrifice.  But still some wonder,

“Why destroy them all?”

Deuteronomy 20:17-18 answers that question.

17“But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.

Think of it this way.  God allowed those peoples to transgress His laws and His call to holiness for hundreds of years, until their unrighteous acts were no longer tolerable.  He used the armies of Israel to carry out His righteous judgment.

But what about the children?

God commanded the complete destruction of entire pagan people groups to prevent them from being future antagonists of Israel and leading future Jewish generations to chase after false gods.  God also warns of potential future ungodly unions.  Deuteronomy 7:3-4 shares,

“You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.”

Obviously God is serious about Holiness and His people being set apart.

Question:  Does God know the future?

Yes!

God foresaw the future of the Canaanites and because of their hard hearted nature and their love of sin, He knew the Canaanites would not be repenting and following after Him.  In ordering the deaths of children and babies, He was actually extending grace and mercy.  These young innocent children who were destined for hell because their future generations would not repent nor acknowledge the God of Israel, found an eternal home in Heaven.   God’s judgment resulted in their salvation.

Scholar William Lane Craig writes,

‘Nothing could so illustrate to the Israelis the seriousness of their calling as a people set apart for God alone.  Yahweh is not to be trifled with.  He means business, and if Israel apostasizes the same could happen to her.  As C.S. Lewis puts it “Aslan is not a tame lion.”‘

He may not be tame, but He is righteous and holy.

God knows best.

 

 

 

If God’s a God of Love, then…Part One


Many times in talks with non-Christians, I’ve been posed the following question,

“If God’s a God of love, then…..”

The query ends with questions like

1.  Why do kids die of cancer?

2.  Why is there child abuse?

3.  Why did my parents divorce?

And just recently,

Why did God order a whole generation including CHILDREN to be slaughtered in the Old Testament and why does He seem to change from a God of vengeance and judgment in the Old to a God of mercy and grace in the New Testament?

And that’s the question I intend to address in this post.

According to the first five books of the Bible, after God called the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and to migrate to the Promised Land, He ordered His people to annihilate all of the Canaanite peoples occupying the land which God had set aside for His people.  Deuteronomy 7:2 says,

 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.”

Note the terms God utilizes to express His plain orders:

defeat, destroy totally, no treaties, no mercy.

So, where’s the God of the New Testament represented in this command.  Where’s the God who stooped to write in the ground to save an adulteress’ life?  Where’s the God of the New Testament who rubs shoulders with the down cast and the down and outs?  Where’s the God of the New Testament who promised a dying criminal,

‘Today you will be with me in Paradise?’

How could this God of Deuteronomy be the God of the Gospels who attracted children in droves?  It does seem harsh for God to order what appears to be genocide of entire people groups, including children and babies.  But can it be explained?

Yes.

First, can we find proof of God’s love for all peoples in the Old Testament?  Absolutely?  Ezekiel 33:11 says,

“As I live says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

Do you see that?  This verse spoken by the Prophet Ezekiel sounds very much like what the Apostle Peter wrote in II Peter 3:9,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God doesn’t rejoice when an atheist tumbles into the fires of hell.  He desires a personal relationship with every one of His highest creation, but there is eternal punishment for those who reject His perfect gift of Jesus Christ.

In Genesis Chapter 18 we see another example of God’s grace, mercy and longsuffering.  God warned Abraham of His pending judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham stands in the gap and lobbies for the people of these wicked cities.  Beginning in Genesis 18:23 we find,

23Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not sparee the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

Maybe Abraham believed his nephew Lot and family would be four of the ten, leaving only six more godly people to be found in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Surely there’d be six….

In this encounter with God and Abraham, we see God dispensing mercy, not taking pleasure in the death of the wicked.  I believe the same happens today.  I believe God’s heart grieves when people refuse Christ.  In Revelation Chapter 3, we see Jesus standing at a door knocking.  He promises to come in and fellowship with all who open the door.  If you haven’t yet decided to trust Christ, He’s once again offering another opportunity.

Why?  Because He’s a God of grace and mercy.

Stay tuned for Part II “What About the Genocide?”

 

Biblical History: The Reason for Middle East Aggressions


In case some missed the Sunday School lesson discussing the origins of the friction between the Jewish people and the Arab nations, let me take a moment to share a little refresher. A few days ago, aides from the Obama Administration appeared dumbfounded on the morning news shows when asked about the hatred between Muslims and Jews. It’s quite simple, really. One needs only turn in the Bible to Genesis chapter 16.

But first some background.

Have you ever become impatient with God?

Abraham did.

God promised Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would be blessed with a child…a son. Many years passed and Sarah failed to conceive. Instead of waiting faithfully for God to provide the promised heir, Abraham weighed his options.  Abraham considered the situation and decided God needed help. So, he married his wife’s maidservant, Hagar, and she conceived.

But this wasn’t God’s plan.  Abraham failed this test of patience miserably. The child growing in the womb of Hagar was not the chosen son.  Abraham sinned by choosing to take matters into his own hands. Bitterness, strife, and envy raged between Sarah and her maidservant Hagar. Abraham instructed his wife to do with Hagar as she wished. Chapter 16 verse 6 says,

“And when Sarai dealt severely with her, humbling and afflicting her, she (Hagar) fled from her.”

An Angel of the Lord found Hagar near a small brook. Hagar poured out her heart to God’s messenger, but the Angel of the Lord commanded her to return to her mistress. She also was given the following promise concerning the child she would bear:

“I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be numbered for multitude.”

But then the Angel of the Lord shared the following about the baby she would deliver:

“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

God promised that Ishmael’s descendants would be numerous, but also warned that Ishmael and his future line would be violent, living in hostility toward everyone. Ishmael’s line fathered the Arab nation that exists today.

Abraham and Sarah did eventually conceive a son and gave him the name Isaac.  Isaac’s birth fulfilled God’s promise and insured the Jewish line would never cease to exist.  Of course tensions existed between Ishmael and Isaac, and that animosity continues to this day.

If the Obama Administration would just brush up on biblical history, there’d be less head scratching by Obama Aides on future morning news shows.

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