Why did God want to hurt people in the Old Testament?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Ben W, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    This is something that I struggle with,

    In the Churches, we are presented with the concept that God exists, although we have not seen Him, we believe in Him even though we havent seen Him. I am ok with that part. Yet we then tell people that God has immeasureable love for them. My perception of God is that He loves us, and He is not vindictive, nasty or wanting to hurt people.

    Yet I read the Old Testament and I read of horrible punishments being wrought upon those that followed the Baals and in other incedents.

    Why would God do that? Why kill everyone to purge them if He loves them? Why send them to Hell for eternity?
     
  2. natters

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    Good question, I've been wondering the same thing in the back of my mind. I don't understand things like the commands to the Israelites entering Canaan to sipmly wipe out entire groups of people whose only real crime was not ever hearing about the Lord.
     
  3. menageriekeeper

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    Now wait. Is it really true that they had NEVER heard of the Lord? Or had the ancestors of these peoples choosen to reject Him?

    Somewhere there is a scripture that says that God can be know through observation of the world around us(bad papaphrase, sorry). If these people has truely sought to know the True God, then He would have provided a way for them to know him just as he did for the Ethiopian man who was reading and not understanding.

    My belief is that these folks had rejected God previous to the return of the Isrealites. I also believe that the 40 years the Isrealites spent wandering in the wilderness was ample warning to those in the Promised Land to get out or get on board.

    If you wish tomorrow or Sunday I'll look up the scripture references.
     
  4. Ed Edwards

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    My father suffered severe pain for two years.
    When he broke his arm turning the gas control
    of a motorcycle, he soon found out he had lung
    cancer. Lung cells would grow in some part of his
    body, start to hurt, the killing of that cancer
    with chemo or radiation was painful. He suffered
    extreme pain for two years. Isn't that pretty
    mean of God to make him suffer like that?
    All he did was smoke lots of cigarettes?

    I think that God wanted Israel to kill all the
    men, women, children, and cattle (includes
    all domesticated animals) in Palestine was because
    they ALL had AIDS. Enough were killed that AIDS
    was wiped from the surface of the earth
    for 1,400 years. I have no scripture to prove
    this. I do know that a God of pure Love and Justice
    and Mercy had a REASON for the order. We just
    don't know the exact reason.
    I have lots of scripture
    to prove the bolded statement.
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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  6. Pastor Larry

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    Because of sin ... We question it because we don't understand the real nature of sin in our lives.
     
  7. Paul33

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    Before God created the universe, God knew several things:

    He knew that he would create a perfect world.
    He knew that man would be created in his image.
    He knew that man would have free will.
    He knew that man would sin.
    He knew that man would be separated from him.
    He knew that man could not save himself.
    He knew that he did not desire any to perish.
    He knew that he would send the Son into the world out of love.
    He knew that the Son would die for man's sin.
    He knew that many would still reject him.
    He knew which potential persons would be in Christ.
    He knew which potential persons would be lost.

    He created the universe.

    The all-knowing, all-powerful God is not obligated to present the gospel to those he knows are not "in Christ."

    The unregenerate in Canaan would lead "his chosen people" into sin and idolatry. God required their destruction so that the promise of the seed (the Messiah) would come to fruition. But his people failed to do what they were commanded to do. As a result, the line of Christ was almost destroyed several times because of sin and rebellion by God's own people.

    This is just one explanation.

    Larry is right to lay the problem at the feet of man's sinfulness. God was seeking to keep his people pure and holy and knew that the pagans would lead his people into grave immorality.

    Unregenerate man is under the wrath of God because he persists in his rebellion towards God (Romans 1-2).
     
  8. Marcia

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    God's righteousness and justice demands wrath on sin and a payment for sin. If you read the OT carefully, you actually find God being very merciful with people, warning them and giving them time to repent. Those people who turned away from Him did that from their own choice -- the true God was known in the beginning but people started turning away. The God of the OT is just as loving as the God of the NT. Some of the best lines about God's mercy and patience are in the OT (no time to look them up but I'm just finishing up an OT course at seminary and I know they are there).

    If we have a God who is just and merciful, we can trust that. Therefore, I do not think anyone goes to hell unfairly because God is fair and merciful and just.
     
  9. Pete

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    Because of His holiness. If Bible isn't enough on the topic I recommend "The Holiness Of God" by R.C. Sproul.
     
  10. untangled

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    I understand what you are saying. However, I believe God does what He does for HIS reasons and not ours. Maybe God commanded those nations be wiped out because they would have wiped out Israel back then. Like Ed, I do not have scripture to support this but God is Holy, True and Righteous. He has His perfect reasons for the things He does.
     
  11. natters

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    I don't know, but I think that's beside the main point. Suppose they had heard. Why doesn't God require us to do the same today?
     
  12. Marcia

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    God was forming a nation and a people for Himself; this would be the people from whose line the Messiah would come. They had to learn to be holy (set apart) and separate from the pagans. Having them conquer these people was one way to keep them from being influenced (though the Israelites did not obey and did not totally conquer, which led to them eventually falling into pagan worship and to the idols at Bethel). They could not understand the absolute holiness of God and the awfulness of sin without seeing the consequences.

    God is not working through us that way; he's working through the church. It's a new covenant. I think if you read a good book on the Old Testament, like one by Gleason Archer, it would help a lot. Doing this Old Testament course (in two parts) has given me a better understanding of what was going on in the OT and what God was doing. It has helped a lot.
     
  13. Paul33

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    Exactly. The Messiah has already come. That's why we are not required to do some of the things that the nation of Israel was required to do. The nation that would birth Christ needed to be protected from the pagan culture surrounding it.

    Was God just in commanding that nations be wiped out?

    When I obtain the wisdom of God I'll let you know!
     
  14. OldRegular

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    Halley's Bible Handbook makes a similar argument [Pages 31, 167] and, I believe, a valid argument.
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    Interestingly enough, so does God:

    Exodus 23:31-33 31 "I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32 "You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 "They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

    Deuteronomy 7:1 "When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 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. 3 "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. 4 "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. 5 "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.

    Numbers 33:55 55 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.
     
  16. Paul of Eugene

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    I think God is able to choose between lesser of two evils. Judgement on people such as Sodom and Gomorrah and such as the Caananites seems extreme - and yet, God is aware of what the consequences would have been if they had been allowed to flourish where we are not.
     
  17. Paul33

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    In family devotions, we were reading about Gideon destroying the altar of Baal. The Israelites wanted to kill Gideon for what he did. They couldn't see the hypocrisy of their position. They permitted the false worship of Baal and wanted to kill Gideon for opposing it. The opposite of what God required!

    Good Scriptures, Larry. Once again the Bible answers the question for the person who started this thread.
     
  18. Paul of Eugene

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    Here's a related scripture:

    Gen 15:13-16
    And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

    14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

    15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

    16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
    KJV

    So God Himself declared that he postponed the taking of the land of Canaan for His people until the present inhabitants were evil enough to justify that judgement upon them.
     
  19. Ben W

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    Sorry if I come across not wanting to say yes I agree, but what I am feeling is that I am struggling with the concept that in the Old Testament, that God arranges the killing of people to somehow make Israel pure.

    Why put children to the sword because of thier race? How is that in any way the Merciful God that we accept in the New Testament.

    Did killing them achieve anything? Was Israel any more pure? I would say no, because they constantly fell into further sin afterwards anyway!
     
  20. Charles Meadows

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    God is often portrayed as harsh in the OT. He also seems to be portrayed as (at times) capricious and hot-tempered.

    Did our patient, longsuffering God really have to be restrained by Moses so that He didn't kill everybody? Did He want little babies dying of thirst or children begging for bread (Lamentations)? This portrayal probably has as much to do with the narrative as it does with the circumstances.

    I think that in many places the OT shows us glimpses of the peoples' perception of God as well.

    To put it another way, God is being described in human terms (anthropomorphism). Did God really TRY to kill Moses? Did Moses really have to talk Him out of doing something rash? Did He really "repent" of (implied) evil things He had planned to do?

    I think these are more examples of HUMAN emotional reactions, ones that a HUMAN might have in those situations. Describing them as such gives US a picture of how God must have felt. I cannot accept the thought of God doing something rash and then regretting it - and that's not what the text intends to show.

    God did not decide that little children should have to starve because of the nation's sin. But the prophetic oracles regarding the travail of a vanquished people show just how terrible the wrong end of the "sin stick" is and will someday be.

    Thus the point is that God FEELS DEEPLY about His people.

    And, not to be left out, God is holy.
     

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