Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wrath of God: Is God Really a Genocidal Maniac?

There was a "Churchianity Today" magazine issue a while back that claimed the "God of the Old Testament" (as if He changed from the old to new covenants) acted like a spoiled toddler. How such a blasphemous article was published in a Christian magazine, i'll never know.

Similar claims are also made by atheists, and those rejecting Christianity. People claim they would have believed in God if He wasnt so murderous, etc. Its a shallow excuse, as God (if He's good, and just. And He is) must punish evil. After all, we dont want people like Hitler traipsing about Heaven. If someone reads about God's thoughts in the Bible, it's clear that He gives people incredible chances to repent before punishing them, and it even seems to grieve Him to have to do it.

Just read Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, As God punishes Israel in His righteous anger, He does so because Israel has been unfaithful to their promises. God's heartache is also evident. The book of Judges is also a great example of how Israel was punished by God, through the use of other armies when they backslid.

A few quick examples of how God was patient before judgment:

Sodom and Gomorrah. He gave Lot time to leave before judging. God also would have spared the city even if there had been a handful of righteous men, God wouldn't have passed judgment. Even when the folks in that city saw the angels, they were hardly interested in hearing any message to repent, but wanted to sleep with the angels!

God even says through His Son Jesus in Matthew 11:23 that if Christ had come to Sodom and performed miracles, they would have repented, and would still have existed in His day. This implies, to me anyways, that anything less would not have moved Sodom to repentence, which is why God judged them. They were beyond redemption for the most part.

We also see in the book of Jonah, that God had passed judgment on Ninevah. Ninevah was incredibly wicked, for details i recommend Chuck Missler's series on Jonah. But even a wicked city like Ninevah was allowed to repent!

God would prefer true, heartfelt repentence over destruction any day.

God even judged Israel, and used the armies of other countries to punish them for disobedience. In fact, He had warned Israel it would happen when they entered into the covenant. But it sets a precedent that God sometimes uses human armies to punish other nations, and even judges those armies if they are too harsh! I can't find the exact verse but i recall that being the case occasionally.

God's warnings to Israel that disobedience would lead to His curse, and that He would punish them. As i recall, the book of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah at a minimum relate to Israel being attacked by foreigners as God's punishment for not obeying Him.

(As suggested by the Life application study Bible)

Lev 26:14-45
Deut 28:15-68

Isa 9:13
Jer 44:2-6

And He was right to do it:

Daniel 9:4 - 14

But what about Canaan? Didn't God basically give the Israelites carte blanche to murder and commit genocide? Why did God command Israel to wipe out the inhabitants of Canaan, even to the last woman, child and even sometimes the animals?

First, there were instances (shown in Deuteronomy 2 at least, where God said not to do anything to the people.)

This article, outlines some good reasons why God ordered the complete eradication of the Canaanites. i dont agree with all of them, but they are some good logical ones. Probably inadequate for most hard line skeptics.

These, and

First, Canaan was a land of sin, pagan worship and immorality. Not to mention that much of that pagan worship involved child sacrifice. So the Canaanites were already killing their own children for the worship of their gods and idols. (Deauteronomy 12:29-31).

But couldn't the canaanite children have been saved by Israel instead of killed? The above article gives a decent reason, but I doubt it would satisfy critics. So, why would innocent children need to die?

One theory i have, sort of based off of things i hear Russ Dizdar talk about occasionally, is that these kids were part of a pagan society. As such, they may have partaken in, or been the focus of pagan rituals. Pagan rituals in turn, open people up to demonic influence and possession. Not to mention, if they were going to be sacrificed, they would have been demonized through rituals anyways. And without salvation, and the power of Jesus Christ, His work on the cross and Resurrection, there was not much that could be done to get the demons out. Especially on such a large scale. Thus, the need to get rid of the women, children and animals, they were likely all highly demonized.

If that's not a good enough reason, consider this. at least some of the people in Canaan were not fully human. That's right, there are other sentient beings that exist besides humans. Canaan was full of giants/nephilim. The children of Anak at a minimum were non-humans, i would submit that many canaanites were not as well. And giants/nephilim have always acted in a wicked manner and hated God.

Numbers 13:26 - 33

And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.

And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this [is] the fruit of it.

Nevertheless the people [be] strong that dwell in the land, and the cities [are] walled, [and] very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they [are] stronger than we.

And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, [is] a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it [are] men of a great stature.

And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, [which come] of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Deuteronomy 2:9 -11

And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land [for] a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot [for] a possession.

The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;

Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.

Deuteronomy 2:19 - 21

And [when] thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon [any] possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot [for] a possession.

(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;

A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:

Deuteronomy 3:3 - 5

So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.

And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

All these cities [were] fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.

Deut. 3:11

For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead [was] a bedstead of iron; [is] it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits [was] the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.

It's fairly clear that Israel was dealing with beings who were not fully human to begin with and were at a disadvantage strengthwise without God's help. I would say in some of these cases, the children and women were far from defenseless. These nephilim/giants are always shown to be against God in every case.

Genesis 6 clearly outlines that giants/nephilim were the result of fallen angels mating with human women. Some may have been gigantic, but not necessarily as some were just "mighty men". The common thought is that these "giants" were on the earth before, and after the flood. See david guzik's commentary for more information.

Some people make a huge deal out of the nephilim, but i think God makes it clear how much time we ought to devote to nephilim. There is a reason they are but a vague footnote in the Bible. It is interesting to note though that nearly every major culture has stories of "the gods" or "star people" coming down and mingling with people. From middle east to native americans. The zuni tribe has stories that parallel the Genesis 6/book of Enoch story quite closely.

Anyways, the nephilim after the flood had some presence and at least some of them had taken up residence in Canaan. As Israel went through and cleared the land of inhabitants, many of them were likely nephilim. This is hardly an idea original with me, but it is one that many people have yet to see.

But all this stuff about nephilim and fallen angels and giants is kind of crazy. but here is possible proof of a nephilim skull, from south america i believe. They call it the "star child" skull. I recently heard that DNA tests came back on it, and that while it may have had a human mother, a number of its genes have been positively identified as non-human! Many in the new age/UFO field would have us believe its an alien skull.

And Russ Dizdar's thoughts on the star child skull.

So thats it for today. Yes, Israel was given a job of clearing Canaan of its inhabitants, and in some cases were instructed to wipe out everyone. I believe in these cases the people were either non-human nephilim or so highly demonized and irredeemable that God had to allow them to be destroyed. Had their been an option for redemption, He would have allowed them to repent. Their destruction implies that they never would have been capable of it.

This is why after Christ's work on the cross, there's a chance for all humanity to be redeemed and escape the judgment slotted out for the few Canaanites that were human.

In the coming weeks, i may like to go through the book of Joshua just to highlight why God asked Israel to do what they did.

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