I posted the following on Facebook earlier today after reading a couple of ridiculous (in my opinion, heretical) articles about how the violence in the OT either didn’t happen or God didn’t command Israel to do the things they did. I wrote a short response (and plan to add to it) sharing some thoughts and Scriptures:
My heart has been burning lately with all these teachings about how violence in the OT was wrong. That God didn’t really tell the Israelites to kill men, women, and children. That such stories are horribly exaggerated. That God wasn’t really like this. These statements are false. People that teach these things are projecting their own cultural views on what should and shouldn’t happen in the world. They deny that the OT prophets, priests, and kings actually heard from God. They don’t like the idea of a wrathful God, but He is wrathful and just. He has every right to be wrathful. We brought sin into this world and the Father cannot look upon sin. This is the beauty of being saved by grace through Christ. However, do you think His wrath goes away for people who reject Him (like the Canaanites)?
Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 11:20-24, “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.'” You know that these cities of old were destroyed because of their wickedness. What does that tell you about these first century cities who rejected Christ and didn’t repent? He’s clearly stating that their judgment will be severe. Yes, we have been given grace and mercy (for those who have accepted Christ), and we should be eternally grateful. We should also remember that there is only ONE God who is above all other gods. And we should not be ashamed to defend His righteous acts because they are righteous indeed. He not only commanded Israel to destroy people, but because of their own lack of repentance, they themselves were led into exile. No one is immune to God’s justice. (Also, take note that those who helped the Israelites (i.e., Rahab) and joined Israel were not destroyed.)
Ultimately, my point is this: Be wary of false teachers. They sound intelligent (sort of), they claim to have a bunch of facts, and they teach what is currently culturally acceptable, but it’s all tickling of the ears. One such teacher (Rob Bell) was so arrogant to say that the writers of the OT had a different level of consciousness than we do now. He writes in an article “What is the Bible?” Part 13: “Where did you get this idea that there’s anything wrong in these stories? You got this idea that there’s a better, more civilized way because you do not share that dominant consciousness. Whether it’s love or peace or justice or compassion-there is some way, some lens, some filter that you run things through that tells you that killing lots of people is wrong and any god who commands such a thing should be avoided at all costs. How did you get this way? How in the world did the world produce you? Humanity has matured, evolved, and grown in consciousness since the time theses stories were told…Your ability to be turned off by these stories is evidence of growth and maturing consciousness! Do you get this? The thing in these stories that makes you the most pissed off and disillusioned and wondering why we should even be reading these stories is itself a prime example of our capacity to grow and move on and transcend earlier stages of consciousness.”
So the fact that we don’t buy into the idea of God asking the Israelites to kill someone (which is basically saying that the Bible is false) shows how we’ve evolved? It doesn’t matter that God spoke directly to people (and He still does). It doesn’t matter that these people saw more miracles than we’ve seen. According to Rob Bell and others, we’re more civilized and better than these tribal people. Yet I can’t help but reflect on what Jesus told those first century cities and wonder what He would say (is saying) to us, His body, who rejects His Word that was given to warn and teach us.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”- 2 Timothy 3:16
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”- Hebrews 10:26-31
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”- Romans 15:4
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”- 1 Corinthians 10:1-12
© Lauren Heiligenthal