Jarrod Jacobs: "How Could God Kill People?"
I had a dear friend ask me how God could kill thousands upon thousands in the Old Testament. He said it was hard for him to believe that God would want this. I appreciate this question and respect him for asking it. When we study the Scriptures, we see that God wants folks to examine, test, and ask questions like my friend did (Isa. 1:18; Matt. 11:29; Acts 17:11; Eph. 5:10; I Thess. 5:21; Rom. 12:2). Below is my answer to my friend’s question. I print it here hoping that perhaps this answer might help others who have had the same question….
It is hard to imagine God telling the Israelites to kill people of another nation, but I have to remember that this is part of a larger context. It is not God randomly saying He wants to kill one group or another for no reason.
God had been patient with the people of Canaan for at least 400 years. Go back and read Genesis 15:1-17, where God promises to give the land of Canaan to Abraham but says he cannot have it now, “because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” When God saw (400 years later) that the people would no longer repent, He took them out of the land. Therefore, when the Israelites came there under Joshua’s leadership to take the land of Canaan, it was a fulfillment of God’s promise, yes, but it was also as a punishment for the sins of the Amorites, Jebusites, Canaanites, etc.
We see a similar theme through the rest of the Old Testament. Even the Jews would be allowed to be killed at times. The survivors were then taken into captivity because of their sins before God. When they refused to repent, they would be handed over to another nation for a while until they repented. We see this described in Judges 2:11-23. Also, God gave over the northern tribes of Israel to Assyria and the southern tribes to Babylon. It was because of their sins and their refusal to repent. (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.)
God would overthrow Babylon later for similar reasons. God has a way of making folks face the consequences of their sins. This is true of individuals and for entire nations of people. Read Daniel 4:31-32 and learn about Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Read Romans 1:21-32 and see a synopsis of God’s dealings with the Gentiles over the years as they continued to sin before God, especially notice verse 28. These people were given over when they got to the point they didn’t like to retain God in their knowledge.
These things recorded in the Bible are for our learning (Rom. 15:4). We need to understand that God keeps His word and that He will not allow sin to go unpunished. One day, if we are in sin and away from God, we will be lost in Hell when He judges and shows how we had sinned before Him for years and years and years (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 21:8).
This is what we see happening in the Bible in places like Ai, etc. These are not the random acts of a vengeful God, but the acts of a just and righteous God who has said these people have lived in sin and refused to repent for too long and must answer for what they have done….
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