An atheist scientist has accused God with a flood of adversarial adjectives. In his book, he wrote –
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” (God Delusion. Chapter 2 p.31)
Breaking down the paragraph, here is the list of the freak accusations against the Creator by the freakiest of freaks, Richard Dawkins:
1. Unforgiving control-freak
3. Bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser
13. Capriciously malevolent bully
Unfortunately, for this scientist, his understanding about a creator in charge is nil. Anyone accusing somebody to be an “unforgiving control-freak” without basis is a freak himself like Dawkins! The less-than-zero god of Dawkins is all of these, yet he is petty?
As recorded in the history of God’s nation, because of human greed and caprices, the Israelites suffered with rigor in the hands of the cruel Egyptians for four hundred years.
13 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.
Why did it take that long? God is a forgiving God, waiting patiently for people to repent and realize the consequences of their iniquities. The timing was not only for the Israelites, but also for their enemies.
His being a forgiving God spells His long-suffering for the Amorites. Who are these Amorites?
The Amorites were an ancient nation mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. They were descended from one of the sons of Canaan (Genesis 14:7). In early inscriptions, the Amorites were also known as Amurra or Amurri. The “land of the Amorites” included Syria and Palestine. Some of the southern mountains of Judea were also called the hill country of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 1:7,19-20). Despite their strong numbers and military might, the Amorites were destroyed due to their worship of false gods. Israel’s conquest of their land was part of God’s judgment on the pagan Amorite culture. The Amorite nation had plenty of time to turn from their idolatry, but they despised God’s goodness and longsuffering and refused to repent (Romans 2:4). The Lord’s judgment upon them was severe, and anyone who imitates their rebellion will eternally regret it (Romans 2:5; Matthew 10:28; Revelation 2:22-23). (Ref: Norman Geisler and Joseph M. Holden, The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible, Harvest House Publishers, 2012).
II PETER 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This is because His desire is for all men to be saved.
I TIMOTHY 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
This long span of years – four hundred – proves God’s patience and forgiveness for the abuses of the Egyptians against the Israelites and the grace of His forgiveness and patience towards the Amorites (used interchangeably with Canaanites). But seeing that the hardness of their hearts and the degree of corruption the Amorites have accumulated in their ungodly way of life, God ordered the Israelites to get rid of these people. This was after God liberated the Israelites from Egypt. For this, isn’t Dawkins accusing God for being “bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser?”
For us to understand the order of God, let us look into model cases in the Bible of annihilation of nations. In various verses, one can read: “wipe them out,” “throw them into confusion,” “make them turn their backs and run,” “drive them out of your way,””strike them down” “dispossess,” “drive out,” “thrust out,” “destroy them,” “subdue them before you,” “annihilate,” “deliver them over to you,” “defeat them,” “give kings into your hands,” and “wipe out their names from under heaven.” But according to Analyst Glenn Miller (ChristianThinkTank.com, 2000), when these are grouped into two categories- dispossession versus destruction – the first comes out with 33 occurrences, and destruction only11 occurrences, with a ratio of 3:1.
Recognizing the intent of the ‘punishment’ explains the order. Accordingly, God was destroying a culture and its carriers, and not necessarily all the individuals in it. In brief, the model cases, as explained by Miller were as follows –
(1) In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities were destroyed without human agency, and that the vegetation was destroyed. God used some type of natural disaster to accomplish the destruction.
(2)The Flood of Noah was the largest annihilation/judgment to date and it involved people, animals, and much vegetation (Gen 6-8).
(3)The Amalekite initiative looks like an ordered annihilation;
1 Samuel 15:3 (KJV)
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
The annihilation was to punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. The Amalekites are a predatory, raiding, and nomadic group.
(4) In the book of Jonah, what is there is an ‘averted annihilation’.
JONAH 1:1-5 (KJV)
1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep……
In short, the people of Nineveh, confronted with warning, responded and averted the annihilation.
From these model cases, the obvious pattern is that the annihilations are judgments over cruelty and violence of an extreme and widespread nature, preceded by long periods of warning or exposure to truth and therefore, with opportunity to change outcomes. But the list of Amorite/Canaanite “religious” practices included: (1) Child sacrifice (with at least some of it in fire); (2) Incest; (3) Bestiality; (3) Homosexual practices; and (4) Cultic prostitution (Miller, 2000; Hobrink, 2011).
Reality dictates that there are people who have no right to live in a civilized society. Governments of almost all civilized nations impose capital punishment for people who are found to be prejudicial to the existence of the better elements of society.
The Bible teaches that children, unlike their evil parents, are welcome in heaven.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Here’s an archeological account on the land of Canaan suggesting that children were also afflicted by the sexually transmitted diseases prevalent in Canaan during the time that God commanded Israelites to claim the land of the Amorites!
God’s express command to Israel was to destroy or drive out the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:2, 3). And Joshua went at the task in dead earnest, God himself helping with mighty miracles. In reality, GOD DID IT.
In excavation at Gezer, Macalister, of the Palestine Exploration Fund (1904-09), found, in the Canaanite stratum, which had preceded Israelite occupation, of about 1500 B.C., the ruins of a “High Place,” which had been a temple in which they worshiped their god Baal and the goddess Ashtoreth (Astarte). It was an enclosure 150 by 120 feet, surrounded by a wall, open to the sky, where the inhabitants held their religious festivals. Within the walls were 10 rude stone pillars, 5 to 11 feet high, before which the sacrifices were offered. Under the debris, in this “High Place,” Macalister found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal. The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babes.
Another horrible practice was that they called “foundation sacrifices.” When a house was to be build (sic), a child would be sacrificed, and its body built into the wall, to bring good luck to the rest of the family. Many of these were found in Gezer. They have been found also at Megiddo, Jerico and other places.
Also, in this High Place, under the rubbish Macalister found enormous quantities of images and plaques of Ashtoreth with rudely exaggerated sex organs designed to foster sensual feelings.
So, Canaanites worshiped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to the same gods. It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. (Ref: Halley’s Bible Handbook, Archaeological Notes: Canaanite Religion, pp166-167)
The Macalister mentioned here is Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister (1870-1950), an Irish archeologist who was responsible for the excavations at Gezer, one of the earliest large-scale scientific archeological excavations in the region. Gezer is said to be between Jerusalem and Jaffa. (Ref: http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/azekah/azekah/2-uncategorised/156-cont-23)
The height of the evil being practiced in Canaan was their cruelty against their children!
10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Canaanites butchered their children and burned them in the fire to make an offering to their false gods.
They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into my mind:
God is a God of justice. A God that allows ample time for repentance; but justice requires equity and equal rights. We are allowed to move with freedom, to live in comfort, to satisfy our desires carnal and spiritual, but not to the expense and detriment of others who have the same right as our own!
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
God commanding the Israelites to annihilate the ungodly Amorites and Canaanites is God’s wise way of instilling in their minds that they must live in God’s justice if they have to live in peace. Cleansing in a civilized society is a must!
LEVITICUS 20:10-11, 16
10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
Ben Hobrink, a biologist, (Modern Science in the Bible: Amazing Scientific Truths Found in Ancient Texts, Amazon, 2011) wrote –
Obviously, the war that God ordered for the Amorites/Canaanites was not a war of unrestrained lust, greed for expensive goods, or even “empire-building.” God did not tolerate those attitudes. (Ref: Glenn Miller). It was a judgment that was to be executed – to get rid of evil influence.
The strong statement is that evil should not flourish. Now, Dr. Richard Dawkins, where do you stand? Obviously, you would prefer to preserve the kind that Amorites are.
This is Part 7 of Possibilities and Impossibilities in the Bible.
More to come.