Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

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Cruelty In The Bible?

Balak hires Balaam to unjustly curse Israel.
What is the appropriate punishment?

THE HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: 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.”

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This accusation of cruelty correctly quotes (except for a minor typo) Numbers 31:17-18.

The Problem:

To understand what was going on we need to go back to the plains of Moab and the history recorded in Numbers chapters 22 through 25.

Balak, the king of the Midianites, hires the evil prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Balak wants Israel destroyed. However, God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel. Instead, no matter how hard he tried, Balaam blessed Israel. This was not good for Balaam. He was to get a huge payment for cursing Israel, but now it appeared he would leave in disgrace and with no money.

Then Balaam came up with a way to curse Israel by getting them to bring God’s curse on themselves. Balaam told king Balak that the Midianites needed to seduce the people of Israel with pros-titutes and idolatry. This disobedience of God would result in Israel bringing a curse on themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornica-tion with Midianite women. This resulted in the death of 24,000 people. (Numbers 25:1-12)

The humanist statement makes it seem as though Numbers 31:17-18 are general instructions for war. That is a false representa-tion of what is happening. Here again they are misrepresenting what scripture says. These are not general instructions for war, but specific instructions for how Israel is to deal with the Midianites who se-duced them into sin. This misrepresentation of scripture makes this claim invalid.

Why were young men, and women who were not virgins, targeted? They were the ones specifically and directly responsible for corrupting Israel. This was justice, and it ensured the end of the threat from the Midianites, preventing them from seducing Israel again.


Conclusion: Once again, we see that God is not cruel. His response to Midianite sexual and spiritual seduction was limited, just, and appropriate.

Next example: Isaiah 13:9,15-18 contains this message from God: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger. . . . Every one that is found shall be thrust through. . . . Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes . . . and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them. . . . [T]hey shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not spare children.”

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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.