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  • Troubling Questions...

    I'm reading through Deuteronomy right now and I've encountered some things that left me a bit unsettled. In Ch. 3, Moses describes how the Israelites utterly destroy the King of Bashan and his army because they confront the Israelites on their way to the promised land. However, they don't stop there:

    "3 So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors. 4 At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them—the whole region of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan. 5 All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages. 6 We completely destroyed [e] them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying [f] every city—men, women and children. 7 But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves."


    I understand the part about destroying the king and his army. Why every other man, woman and child though? Even though they may be mostly wicked there's got to be a few good people out of the lot. Even if there's not, why wouldn't God have mercy and give them a chance to change their ways, to find salvation. As it is, they were all slaughtered and probably went straight to Hell. Then the Israelites plundered them.

    Something else that doesn't make sense in the commandments:

    "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    Showing love to a thousand generations is incredibly merciful- we sure don't deserve it. However, it still seems kind of unfair to be punished for the sin of your fathers to the third and forth generation. Someone could literally devote their entire life to God's service only to be punished for something their grandparents or dad did. Seems so different than the incredible mercy in the New Testament...

    Here's my last thing- God lays forth some military rules for Israel:

    10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. 16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy [a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.



    God says all these last mentioned cities were nothing but wicked and I believe Him. I can see how they could be a stumbling block to the Israelites and therefore should be wiped out. What troubles me, though, is how the Israelites are commanded to treat the other nations around them. When the Israelites attack the city, the city has the option of giving themselves over to slavery, or they could choose to have all the men slaughtered. Then the fatherless children, widowed women and all they ever had becomes plunder.

    I just can't fathom how such a loving God would command such a thing...

    Anyone who's got any insight or sees something I'm overlooking here please help. I really need some help on this stuff...

    Thanks,
    Nick

  • #2
    In perspective:

    Revelation 20
    11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
    13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
    14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire.
    15And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
    God is a God of mercy, long suffering and love. But he is also a God of wrath and judgment. No matter what the hand of God works - we know that it is good and right in despite of our human reasoning.
    Seek ye FIRST the kingdom.
    Not second or third, but first.
    Only when all else pales to God, when He receives all glory,
    when He is the source of all hope,
    when His love is received and freely given,
    holding not to the world but to the promise to come,
    will all other things be added unto to you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Petey View Post
      I'm reading through Deuteronomy right now and I've encountered some things that left me a bit unsettled. In Ch. 3, Moses describes how the Israelites utterly destroy the King of Bashan and his army because they confront the Israelites on their way to the promised land. However, they don't stop there:

      "3 So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors. 4 At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them—the whole region of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan. 5 All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages. 6 We completely destroyed [e] them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying [f] every city—men, women and children. 7 But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves."

      I understand the part about destroying the king and his army. Why every other man, woman and child though? Even though they may be mostly wicked there's got to be a few good people out of the lot. Even if there's not, why wouldn't God have mercy and give them a chance to change their ways, to find salvation. As it is, they were all slaughtered and probably went straight to Hell. Then the Israelites plundered them.

      Something else that doesn't make sense in the commandments:

      "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

      Showing love to a thousand generations is incredibly merciful- we sure don't deserve it. However, it still seems kind of unfair to be punished for the sin of your fathers to the third and forth generation. Someone could literally devote their entire life to God's service only to be punished for something their grandparents or dad did. Seems so different than the incredible mercy in the New Testament...

      Here's my last thing- God lays forth some military rules for Israel:

      10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. 16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy [a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.



      God says all these last mentioned cities were nothing but wicked and I believe Him. I can see how they could be a stumbling block to the Israelites and therefore should be wiped out. What troubles me, though, is how the Israelites are commanded to treat the other nations around them. When the Israelites attack the city, the city has the option of giving themselves over to slavery, or they could choose to have all the men slaughtered. Then the fatherless children, widowed women and all they ever had becomes plunder.

      I just can't fathom how such a loving God would command such a thing...

      Anyone who's got any insight or sees something I'm overlooking here please help. I really need some help on this stuff...

      Thanks,
      Nick
      Hi Nick We must initially recognise here that we are not considering someone who is equally as morally guilty as we are, but the Judge of all the earth Who, if He gave us our deserts, would introduce another Flood. As He acts through history He does so in accordance with what He knows is for the most benefit of the most people.

      Firstly we may consider the Amorites mentioned in Deuteronomy. Now the Amorites were a particularly sinful people. Indeed for four hundred years God had spared them until their iniquities had become so 'full' that He could spare them no longer (Genesis 15.16). They were a tainted people. Thus God did not want their genes to become mixed up with the genes of other people, and the only way in which this could be accomplished was by wiping them out. But you should recognise the situation. God did not just send Moses arbitrarily to wipe them out. He was ready for them to be passed by in peace. It was they who deliberately chose to take on the Israelites with the aim of wiping out the Israelites man, woman and child. This is regularly how God works. He lets man condemn himself. And Israel were to learn from this what the fate was of those who followed the ways of the Amorites and their distorted and perverted religion. But should God have spared the women? Well where do you think the genes came from? The women were equally as perverted as the men. And the same was true of the children. God knew that it was necessary to wipe out the Amorites in order to give the human race a chance. But not one Amorite was put to death who sought God's mercy. The problem was that they did not seek God's mercy.


      The reson why sins were punished to the third and fourth generation was because the sins of the fathers were passed on to the children. They copied their fathers and were equally sinful. But not one person who truly repented and sought God's mercy was caught up in this. It was not an irrevocable position. Simply what would normally happen, because sin engaged in affects the following generations.

      With regard to the instructions concerning cities which were taken in war. These were cities which were invaded because their nation had engaged in belligerent action against Israel. It was thus 'them or us.' Now suppose a city that refused to surrender was taken, what are you to do with the inhabitants? You cannot leave them in place because as you advanced to the next city they would attack you from behind. The only thing that could be done if survival was to be possible was to kill all the men of war. Do you think that they should then leave the women and children with no menfolk to defend them? That would hardly be merciful. So they were to take them as bondservants. There really was no other alternative. They could hardly marry them all, and by becoming bondservants of Israelites they would learn to worship the one true God. And bondservants were given special protection under God's Law (as well as one day in seven off).

      Meanwhile once again the people of the nations whom God had 'committed to destruction' had to be destroyed to get rid of their bad genes.

      My answers are a little brief but think it through and you will recognise that there was little alternative.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Nick,
        I hope this helps.

        Question 1
        1Co 10:11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down as a warning for us in whom the climax of the ages has been realized.
        Gal 5:9 A little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough.

        Israel views this as its history, but its history is written to teach us lessons. (lessons we can apply toward spiritual growth)
        Such as: leaving a little sin in one's life is not good. Like yeast, sin will grow – eventually corrupting the whole being.

        Question 2
        Wait! A new thing!
        Deu 24:16 The fathers shall not die for sons, and sons shall not die for fathers; they each shall die for his own sin.

        God was referring to the new covenant to come. Read Jeremiah 31 for clarity.

        Question 3
        It all seems harsh to us, but everything was harsh back then. See answers 1 & 2 above. J

        Richard

        Comment


        • #5
          Have you considered buying a study guide for this differcult book? Or joining a church bible study group, so you have 'physical' christians in real life to explain complex verses/ chapters?

          You can get full commentaries that cover every verse, like Matthew Henry very cheaply - that was recommended to me by multiple people on this site. On line you can access many resources that answer differcult questions. Sometimes you can just search 'Bible book name chapter?: verse?'

          For a begining a bible with magin cross references, to remind you or add to understanding of a verse. Footnotes are good - but in a study bible 100 times better.

          I'm glad you have a mental framework that God can not be wrong and that the bible must explain God's reasons. This is a very good begining also. Love SofTy.
          1 Corinthians 1:12-13 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

          Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptised in the name of Paul?

          KJV

          May the power of the Spirit of our God unite us. SofTy.

          Comment


          • #6
            I just want to say that I don't see many people even interested in studying Deuteronomy, so I commend you for taking some time in it. Major keys are there.

            In chapter 1, Israel is told to choose men that are wise and understanding to start their nation - and God would make them judges over them.

            1:13
            "Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you."
            V16
            "...judge righteously.."
            V8
            "Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land..."
            /as in go conquer it
            start the nation of Israel
            with men that are wise and understanding
            that judge righteously


            Deut 12:2
            "Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:"

            Deut 12:3
            " And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place."

            Deut 31:3
            "The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said."

            Ps 106:34
            "They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:"
            http://prophecyinsights.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by petepet View Post
              Hi Nick We must initially recognise here that we are not considering someone who is equally as morally guilty as we are, but the Judge of all the earth Who, if He gave us our deserts, would introduce another Flood. As He acts through history He does so in accordance with what He knows is for the most benefit of the most people.
              True- but I would still think that He would do everything He could to help the others too...
              Originally posted by petepet View Post
              Firstly we may consider the Amorites mentioned in Deuteronomy. Now the Amorites were a particularly sinful people. Indeed for four hundred years God had spared them until their iniquities had become so 'full' that He could spare them no longer (Genesis 15.16). They were a tainted people. Thus God did not want their genes to become mixed up with the genes of other people, and the only way in which this could be accomplished was by wiping them out. But you should recognise the situation. God did not just send Moses arbitrarily to wipe them out. He was ready for them to be passed by in peace. It was they who deliberately chose to take on the Israelites with the aim of wiping out the Israelites man, woman and child. This is regularly how God works. He lets man condemn himself. And Israel were to learn from this what the fate was of those who followed the ways of the Amorites and their distorted and perverted religion. But should God have spared the women? Well where do you think the genes came from? The women were equally as perverted as the men. And the same was true of the children. God knew that it was necessary to wipe out the Amorites in order to give the human race a chance. But not one Amorite was put to death who sought God's mercy. The problem was that they did not seek God's mercy.
              How can we know that? And if they didn't, could it have been that they didn't even know about the true God?


              Originally posted by petepet View Post
              The reson why sins were punished to the third and fourth generation was because the sins of the fathers were passed on to the children. They copied their fathers and were equally sinful. But not one person who truly repented and sought God's mercy was caught up in this.
              Can we assume that though? All it said was that sons would be punished for the sins of the fathers.
              Originally posted by petepet View Post
              With regard to the instructions concerning cities which were taken in war. These were cities which were invaded because their nation had engaged in belligerent action against Israel. It was thus 'them or us.' Now suppose a city that refused to surrender was taken, what are you to do with the inhabitants? You cannot leave them in place because as you advanced to the next city they would attack you from behind. The only thing that could be done if survival was to be possible was to kill all the men of war. Do you think that they should then leave the women and children with no menfolk to defend them? That would hardly be merciful. So they were to take them as bondservants. There really was no other alternative. They could hardly marry them all, and by becoming bondservants of Israelites they would learn to worship the one true God. And bondservants were given special protection under God's Law (as well as one day in seven off).
              I agree with that last part- it makes sense. But- the nations referred to in that part weren't the ones that were designated wicked- that was the Amorites, Hittites, etc.. God sets apart a separate treatment for them- he says to leave in those cities nothing that breathes. He didn't say anything about the cities in the first part being a threat, though.It simply says, "This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby." [/quote]

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ServantofTruth View Post
                Have you considered buying a study guide for this differcult book? Or joining a church bible study group, so you have 'physical' christians in real life to explain complex verses/ chapters?

                You can get full commentaries that cover every verse, like Matthew Henry very cheaply - that was recommended to me by multiple people on this site. On line you can access many resources that answer differcult questions. Sometimes you can just search 'Bible book name chapter?: verse?'

                For a begining a bible with magin cross references, to remind you or add to understanding of a verse. Footnotes are good - but in a study bible 100 times better.

                I'm glad you have a mental framework that God can not be wrong and that the bible must explain God's reasons. This is a very good begining also. Love SofTy.
                Thanks for the advice. I'm actually in college and I'm in a kind of temporary youth group at the local church. I've been a Christian all my life but just starting a few months ago made the goal of reading the whole Bible- this is how far I've gotten plus Matthew and Mark. I know pretty much all the main Bible stories b/c I've heard them multiple times in church/biblestudy over the years. However, I wanted to get a look at the more difficult things that seem to get "left out". If someone who isn't a Chrisitian asked me about something like this, I'd be stumped. That's why I don't think it does us any good to just hear the main stories. In my opinion, some of these difficult things should be right below the Gospels as important things we learn in Sunday School b/c knowledgeable non-believers always use this stuff against us- and I for one am unsure how to respond to things like this. Anyways, enough of the rant.
                Thanks for the suggestion on the study book. Seems pretty obvious but the thought really hadn't occured to me. I have a study Bible, but it rarely answers the amount of questions I come up with.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Petey View Post
                  True- but I would still think that He would do everything He could to help the others too...
                  How can we know that? And if they didn't, could it have been that they didn't even know about the true God?


                  Can we assume that though? All it said was that sons would be punished for the sins of the fathers.
                  I agree with that last part- it makes sense. But- the nations referred to in that part weren't the ones that were designated wicked- that was the Amorites, Hittites, etc.. God sets apart a separate treatment for them- he says to leave in those cities nothing that breathes. He didn't say anything about the cities in the first part being a threat, though.It simply says, "This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby."
                  [/quote]

                  In this world there are many times when decisions have to be taken which affect some badly in order to help others. If God is seeking to do the best for the most people then He could not 'help others too'. He is doing the best that the circumstances will allow.

                  But it is not for you and I to tell God what to do. All we can say is that we know that the way He chooses is right because He knows the end from the beginning.

                  We know it because Canaan was cursed by God because of what he was (Genesis 9). Whatever it was he passed it on to his descendants who in the end became so evil that Gid had to deal with them (Genesis 15.16). We also know from archaeology how crude the Canaanites were. Ask yourself this. What was it that destroyed Israel. According to Kings it was the Canaanite influence. Had they obeyed God and destroyed the Canaanites it would never have happened.

                  The Israelites were never called on to invade other countries. They must therefore have been doing it for defensive reasons.

                  Best wishes

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone. I would still be interested in hearing what anyone has to say about Og Kind of Bashan and why not only he and his army were wiped out, but everyone else too. Nothing was said about the other city people being wicked or anything.

                    I'd be interested to hear some more on the whole deal about sins being punished for the sins of the fathers, too.

                    Thank,
                    Nick

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Petey View Post
                      Thanks everyone. I would still be interested in hearing what anyone has to say about how the other surrounding nations were to be dealt with, though. (The other surrounding nations besides the wicked ones in Canaan the Israelites were supposed to destroy) Seems kind of harsh considering they weren't the ones at fault.

                      Hi again. The surrounding nations came into contact with Israel precisely because they behaved belligerently towards Israel. They entered Israelite territory and stole and killed and took slaves. They were not 'innocent'. Thus Israel were simply fighting back.

                      That is when they had to decide on their war policy. I know of no example of Israel taking the offensive (except when being disobedient or with a specific purpose in mind) until the time of Solomon. David did not want to battle with his neighbours. It was forced on him.

                      But warfare in those days was cut and thrust. It was kill or be killed. If you defeated a belligerent eneny you had to ensure that for a long time he would not be in position to return. And there was sadly only one way to do that. Decimate his forces. There was no alternative.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Petey View Post
                        Thanks everyone. I would still be interested in hearing what anyone has to say about Og Kind of Bashan and why not only he and his army were wiped out, but everyone else too. Nothing was said about the other city people being wicked or anything.

                        I'd be interested to hear some more on the whole deal about sins being punished for the sins of the fathers, too.

                        Thank,
                        Nick
                        Og king of Bashan was an Amorite and thus came under the Amorite curse. Who were the 'everyone else'?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Petey View Post
                          Thanks everyone. I would still be interested in hearing what anyone has to say about Og Kind of Bashan and why not only he and his army were wiped out, but everyone else too. Nothing was said about the other city people being wicked or anything.

                          I'd be interested to hear some more on the whole deal about sins being punished for the sins of the fathers, too.

                          Thank,
                          Nick
                          With regard to the sins of the fathers in each context it is made clear that God only punishes the guilty. In Exodus 20.5 it is 'of those who hate Me'. In 34.7 and Numbers 14.18 we are told He will not clear the guilty. Thus the position is quite clear. The children follow in the sins of their fathers.

                          But the Scripture makes quite clear that even when the guiltiest of people repent God does 'change His mind' i.e. alters His position towards them. Consider the evil king Ahab (see 1 Kings 21.29). It was in his son's hands whether he too repented and deferred God's judgment. The principle is clearly there. Had each son repented the judgment could have been delayed ad infinitum. Compare also Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33.12-13). The same principle applied. Compare also the Ninevites under Jonah. Repentance always defers judgment.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Petey View Post
                            Thanks everyone. I would still be interested in hearing what anyone has to say about Og Kind of Bashan and why not only he and his army were wiped out, but everyone else too. Nothing was said about the other city people being wicked or anything.
                            First some understanding of what your reading. Deutoronomy begins with the words "these are the words", and refers to all the words Moses spoke in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, the thirty nine year period after Israel left Egypt. So Moses laid out the law for them previously. Now, in the eleventh month of the fortieth year begins Deuteronomy. Moses is explaining the law he had already given in the prior three books. Deuteronomy means "a second law". It contains no new law, but is called a second law because it emphasizes the spirit of the law to stress the importance of obedience and thankfulness to God from the heart.

                            This Og King of Bashan, is one of the nephillim (giants, mighty men etc.). A descendent of a corrupt priestly order which you'd have to understand from Genesis. In Deuteronomy, since this is spiritual understanding of the law, God is destroying all corruption. Which includes this corrupted group. IOW this is a holy war.
                            I'd be interested to hear some more on the whole deal about sins being punished for the sins of the fathers, too.

                            Thank,
                            Nick
                            The statement is not universal in application. It is spoken about certain ones who came out of Egypt. After seeing the Lord's signs and wonders in Egypt they committed worse sins than their forefathers who saw none of these things.

                            Comment

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