Did God Commit Atrocities by Ordering the Killing of Entire Cities of People?
by Rich Deem

Introduction

The God in the Old Testament seems to have many personalities; cruel, unjust, kind, loving, etc."1 There are, however, two major areas which we humans have a difficult time reconciling - God's love vs. God's righteousness. God is loving, but God's love requires God's justice. As I discipline my three children when they disobey, God disciplines us if we don't meet His requirements. The problem for us is that we cannot keep all of God's laws because of our selfishness and self-centeredness.2 God would have been completely just and loving in destroying all of us for our disobedience to Him. It is only through His extraordinary love and grace that we are allowed into His presence.

Atrocities by God?

Is God a Moral Monster?If you were to read atheist's websites, you will often find complaints that the God of the Bible arbitrarily ordered the destruction of entire cities, such as Jericho, just to allow the Jews to have a homeland in the Middle East. How could a loving God command the destruction of all those "innocent" people? The argument sounds good, but it is utterly false. The unstated assumption is that the people who God ordered destroyed were morally equivalent to the Jews, who replaced them. However, this is what the Bible says about the people who were destroyed:

"It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:5)

Okay, how "wicked" could those people have been? How about killing their own sons and daughters by burning them in sacrifices to their gods:

"You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:31)

The wickedness of these people is confirmed in other verses of the Bible.3 So we see that these people are not quite as innocent as the atheists would like you to believe. The fact that these people practiced child sacrifice is also confirmed in the secular writings of the Greeks.4 Then again, maybe those atheists believe that killing your children is not all bad. After all, killing viable pre-born babies is legal in this country (it's called a choice, a.k.a. abortion). For these reasons (and others5), God ordered the destruction of the peoples whom the Israelites dispossessed.

Did God kill any innocent people along with the evil ones? When God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked God if He would destroy the cities if there were 50 righteous people in them.6 God said no. Then Abraham asked the same question if there were 45 righteous people. Every time he dropped the number and got the same answer. The fact is that God would not have destroyed those cities if there were any righteous people in them. The few righteous who were in those cities He warned ahead of time to get out.7 So, God does not destroy the righteous along with the evil.

God's judgment of people groups found in the Old Testament actually pales in comparison to the judgment He will render at the end of time. According to the New Testament Book of Revelation, God will judge and kill billions of people who reject Him when Jesus returns, including 200 million killed in a single battle.8 Such large armies have never existed in the history of mankind until the last 100 years, suggesting the this judgment could come at any time.

What about children?

In some instances, God ordered the killing of entire populations, presumably including the killing of babies and children. Isn't God unrighteous in killing these innocent little ones? First of all, the Bible indicates that all people are sinners,9 including babies,10 and worthy of judgment.11 However, the Bible also indicates that children are incapable of making moral choices, so that they are automatically rewarded with heaven.12 So, in having babies killed, God is actually doing them a favor, since, if they had grown up opposed to God, they would have gone to hell. If God were to have spared some of the children, it would have been difficult to determine the cutoff age. A one-year old is probably still relatively uncorrupted by his parents, but what about a two-year old? I have personally seen a number of spoiled two-year olds who had already been corrupted by their parents. In a society where moral corruption abounds, the corruption of the children would be early and severe. God was very clear that he did not want the sons and daughters of the corrupted peoples to marry the sons and daughters of the Israelites to lead them astray through false worship.13 Even so, there are many examples of the Israelites being polluted in their worship by the surrounding peoples.14

Conclusion Top of page

In order to maintain His righteousness, God must judge sin - everything that goes against His character. If God let everyone into heaven, then He would have to allow in people such as Stalin and Hitler. Obviously, heaven would not be a good place to be with the likes of those people there. Therefore, God's righteousness requires the judgment of all sin. Only those people who agree with God and are willing to allow themselves to be changed into sinless beings can enter into heaven. For information on how to do this, click here.



References Top of page

  1. I would caution you not to judge God, since it is said, "Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." (Romans 2:1)
  2. For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
    as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one;" (Romans 3:10)
  3. and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim. (2 Kings 17:31)
  4. White, A. 1987. Abortion and the Ancient Practice of Child Sacrifice, Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine 1 (2):27-42.
  5. "When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' (Deuteronomy 12:29-30)
  6. Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account." And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?" And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." He spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it on account of the forty." Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the twenty." Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten." As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place. (Genesis 18:22-33)
  7. When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. (Genesis 19:15-16)
  8. The number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. (Revelation 9:16)
    So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. (Revelation 14:19-20)
  9. "When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; (1 Kings 8:46)
    For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. (Psalms 14:1)
    For the choir director; according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalms 53:1-3)
    Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
    All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6)
    For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
    "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. (Daniel 9:11)
    as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one;" (Romans 3:10)
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
    Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12)
    If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
  10. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:5)
    The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth. (Psalms 58:3)
    The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21)
    "You have not heard, you have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open, Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously; And you have been called a rebel from birth. (Isaiah 48:8)
  11. And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. (Psalm 9:8)
    Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:9)
    But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, Who tries the feelings and the heart, Let me see Thy vengeance on them, For to Thee have I committed my cause. (Jeremiah 11:20)
    But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:5-7)
    see also Genesis 18:25, 1 Kings 8:32, 2 Chronicles 6:23, Psalm 7:8, Psalm 7:11, Psalm 9:4, Psalm 9:8, Psalm 19:9, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 96:13, Psalm 98:9, Isaiah 11:4, Jeremiah 11:20, Acts 17:31, Romans 2:1-29, 10:12-14, James 2:12, Revelation 16:7
  12. See What Happens to Infants and Children Who Die? Do Babies Go To Heaven?
  13. "and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you." (Deuteronomy 7:4)
  14. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (1 Kings 11:4)
    and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. (Judges 2:12)
    The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel... (Judges 3:5-8)
    Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him. (Judges 10:6)
    The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim. (2 Kings 17:30-31)
    But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. (1 Chronicles 5:25)
    Now after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them and burned incense to them. Then the anger of the LORD burned against Amaziah, and He sent him a prophet who said to him, "Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?" (2 Chronicles 25:14-15)
    Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the LORD. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, and said, "Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me." But they became the downfall of him and all Israel. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23)

http://godandscience.org/apologetics/killergod.html
Last Modified January 25, 2012

 

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