Cruelty In The Bible?
Israel worships other gods. Is God just to punish them?
THE HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: Deuteronomy 32:23-25 says that after the Israelites incited Gods jealousy by worshiping other gods, he vowed: I will spend mine arrows upon them. . . . The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
My responses to the claims on the American Humanist's web site are intended to be read in sequence. However, I know there will be some who will skip around, reading just those accusations they need to know about. That’s okay. However, the answer to some hu-manist accusations is the same answer I gave previously. It would seem that I could just say “ditto” and move on. However, since some people may only read one or two chapters, I am giving a com-plete answer in each chapter even though it may be repetitious. I will try to add new information in each chapter to keep it interesting for those of you reading each chapter in sequence.
In addition, the American Humanist's web page is a long one packed with many accusations. If I skip over just one accusation, they will pounce, "Ah ha! He couldn't answer that question. The Bible must be false. There is no God!" This is unjust. All it would means is that I do not want you to get bored with my repeatedly giving the same answering.
BTW, if I do come upon a question or accusation I cannot an-swer, that does not mean the Bible is not true or there is no God. All it means is that neither I, nor anyone else, knows everything. On the other hand, there are questions humanists cannot answer. They typically respond by saying, “Science does not have all the answers, but give us time and we may learn the answer.” However, it is inter-esting that Christians are not allowed to give this response.
Let's get back to answering the accusations that God is cruel. What is going on in Deuteronomy 32? (Chapter 32 is part of a larger prophetic song that begins in Deuteronomy 31:30 and ends in 32:43. The theme of the song is Israel's apostasy which brings God's judgment. God makes it clear what will happen, leaving Israel with no excuse.)
As we have seen in the past couple of responses, God is warn-ing Israel about what will happen. This is a prophecy God is giving through Moses warning Israel what will happen if they continue down the path they have been following.
Unlike the last two prophecies we discussed (Hosea 13:16 and Ezekiel 9:4-7), this is not a specific prophecy. Deuteronomy is a rec-ord of the speech Moses gave just before Israel entered the Promised Land. In this part of the speech, God, through Moses, is warn-ing the people of Israel about turning to other gods. God is looking into the future, and warning the people of Israel. Even though they will now be in the Promised Land, if they turn away from God things will not go well for them.
The phrase "I will spend mine arrows" refers to other kingdoms and empires that will come against Israel should God withdraw pro-tection.
How does God do this?
God punishes nations by withdrawing His blessing, just as He is doing with America today. As God withdraws His blessing, that also withdraws His protection, allowing the enemies of Israel to defeat, plunder, and kill them.
Conclusion: God is not cruel. God is warning the people of Israel, well in ad-vance, about what will happen if they turn to other gods. None of the "bad" things that came upon Israel came without warning. We have a loving God. A God who, far in advance and very clearly, makes the situation known: If they turn away from God, God will give them what they want and turn away from them, leaving them open to terror and destruction by their enemies.
Next example: In Numbers chapter 31, the Lord approves of these instructions that Moses gave to the Israelite soldiers about how to treat certain women and children captured in war: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Are these general instructions for war? Why does God command this? Learn the answers, click here.
THE GOOD NEWS
Before you get the good news, you need to know the bad news. It's about you. God says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
Sin means disobeying God, aka breaking God's law. God is perfect and perfection is required to enter heaven. It's a standard none of us can achieve. We all fall short. For example, compare yourself with just one of the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie?
All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8. Or what about:
Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:
Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Have you done that?
You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...
Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true (believe), and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.