Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

God and Genocide

The God of the Old Testament ordered genocide. He was, as Richard Dawkins so rightly stated "a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

As justification for God’s merciless judgment against the Canaanites, we are told by Bible scholars that they were a morally corrupt people. The religion of the Canaanites was a fertility cult. They turned their women into temple prostitutes, and they sacrificed their children by fire in the white-hot arms of their pagan gods.

To get this into perspective we have to look at our own nation in regard to pornography, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, violence, and particularly abortion. We have murdered more than 50 million innocent babies in the womb! How bad does a nation have to get for God Himself to order the slaughter of every man, woman and child? The question arises as to why God didn’t intervene when Hitler’s evil regime was in power, and kill off the German nation before it slaughtered millions of innocent people across the world? But He did intervene with the Canaanites, so how can we begin to understand this specific and harsh judgment?

The first key is to realize that the God of the New Testament is the same as He was in the Old Testament. He never changes. In the New Testament we are told to fear Him because He has the power to kill the body and cast the soul into Hell, and the New Testament has enough judgments in it to make us fear Him. Take for one example His fearful judgments against humanity in the Book of Revelation.

The reason we should fear God is because He is to be feared. He is still the same today as He was in the New Testament, and He will be the same on Judgment Day. He’s not going to compromise justice simply because sinful man points a judgmental holier-than-thou finger at Him. We have more chance of changing the inner core temperature of the sun because we don’t like the fact that it’s hot.

However, those who insist on standing in judgment over God do so because they are making two serious mistakes: 1. They haven’t seen God as He is, and, 2. They haven’t seen themselves as they are.

This is what God said to wicked humanity when they continued to do evil: "These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was once entirely like you . . . " (Psalm 50:21 (Amplified Bible, italics added).

Humanity’s mistake is that we think that God is something like us. We are made in the "image" of God, in that we are moral beings, but God is nothing like us. One way to illustrate the difference is to consider the subject of crime. If a man threatens to beat his dog, there’s no consequence for his threat. If he threatens to beat up a police officer, he will appear before a judge for threatening an officer of the law. However, if he threatens the President of the United States, he will find himself in prison for a long time. It is the same crime (of making a threat), but the penalty increases because of the importance of the one against whom the threat is made.

When any of us commit a sin, we commit a crime against Almighty God, and that greatly increases the penalty. When Jesus spoke about where sin originates, He said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:19). Ask the world if they think those sins are serious, and most will say that there’s nothing wrong with evil thoughts, fornication, blasphemy and lying. They will say things like "Who hasn’t told white lies, or taken something small that belongs to someone else? Everybody does it." Those sins aren’t seen as being too serious because they are seen from the low moral standards of a human point of view.

But God is absolute and perfect holiness, and He sees each of those crimes as being so serious, that they demand the death penalty and damnation in Hell. Without the help of the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, we will always see these sins as trivial, but on the Day of Judgment when we stand in the presence of a Holy Creator, we will see how dreadfully serious they are. Jesus spoke of sin as being so deadly, that if our eye causes us to as much as lust, we should pluck it out and cast it from us. Obviously He was speaking metaphorically to show us how gravely serious sin is in the sight of God. With that in mind, carefully read what Scripture says about this issue:

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—where 'Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'" (Mark 9:43-48, NKJV).

So if God applied His high moral standard to humanity right now, His perfect Law would seize upon every one of us, instantly take us to Hell, and perfect justice would be done.

If Hitler had commanded Joshua to kill every Canaanite he would have been guilty of the crime of genocide, because Hitler was a sinful man who had a wicked agenda. But God is morally faultless and therefore all of His judgments are righteous and true altogether.

None of us knows why God judged the Canaanites. Perhaps they were a nation of potential "Hitlers" and God killed them off before they were able to become a great power. There is nothing wrong with asking why God judged them, but there is something very wrong in questioning His moral character, especially when we do so as very guilty sinners. For me, it’s not a big issue because there are some things I will never know, this side of eternity: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33, italics added). The Book of Isaiah says a similar thing: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Skeptics often then ask that if God was to tell me to kill people, would I do it? Of course not. Those who do hear voices should seek professional help.

The Bible says, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds . . ." (Hebrews 1:1-2). We speak to God through prayer, and He speaks to us specifically through the teachings of His Son, which are laid out in Scripture.

Here then is how we should treat other people: "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back" (Luke 26:27-30).

We are horrified at the killing of innocent men, women, and children because we intuitively know that it’s morally wrong. However, the atheist can’t say that anything is morally wrong, because he doesn’t believe in moral absolutes. His morality is predicted by what society dictates is right from wrong. So if a society deemed it legal to exterminate Jews, then it becomes morally okay? It must, if it is mob rule that dictates ethics.

Our knowledge of what is right and wrong must trace itself back to God and to His moral Law, and the reason we are horrified at the thought of genocide, is because we are made in His image. My dog couldn’t care less about genocide. Neither could my chickens. In fact, none of the animal kingdom have the inbuilt knowledge of morality to a point where they set up court systems, and administer justice to their fellow creatures. Only man does that.

So make sure that you don’t be so foolish as to reject God’s gift of eternal life, just because you think that He is morally corrupt and that you are righteous. On Judgment Day you will discover that God who is just in His judgments, and that you, like the rest of us, are desperately wicked. On that Day, God will be the judge and you will be the criminal. That is, if you choose to stay in your sins.