Friday, February 6, 2015

53. Inhumane War Acts

A Matter of Perspective

Those of us who have been taught that the Bible is "word perfect" seem to have a problem believing that the writers of the Bible inserted their own ideas, even though the ideas seemed noble to the writer.  

Because some cannot accept the idea that the writers expressed their own ideas have come up with the notion that the Old Testament God is not the same God that we read about in the New Testament.  The problem is not that there are two different main Gods in the Bible.  

The misunderstanding stems from the fact that the Old Testament writers were followers of the merciless laws of Moses and the writers expressed the ideas they grew up with and the New Testament writers who were students of Christ, and they expressed those thoughts which Christ had taught them, for example: But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Mat. 5:39. 

The problem arises when we believe that every saying that is attributed to God actually came from God.  Here is a statement made a few posts ago, "When things turn out negatively, perhaps the Lord will not be blamed for giving bad advice, the results may be attributed to the nation's, or an individual's, sin.  Often in the Bible, as we already noticed in the Books of Moses, when human ideas turned out well for the Israelites, the Lord gets the credit for the idea, even though it was a human's idea." 

The laws of Moses distinctly forbade mistreatment of animals, how then can we believe that Jehovah would suggest that the horses, in that story of a few weeks ago, (Joshua 11), should have their leg muscles severed? But the Lord said to Joshua, ... You shall hamstring their horses. Joshua 11:6.  According to Moses, the stern law-giver, this idea came not from Jehovah but, much more likely from an army leader who had knowledge of that horrid practice.

Now, we come to a much more inhumane story: a story, the likes of which repeats itself a number of times in the Old Testament.  According to the way that the Bible is written these atrocities were committed at the bidding of Jehovah!  However, it is much easier to believe that the ideas came from some overzealous "war captain".

And the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, ... you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’...And we utterly destroyed them, ... utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city. Deut. 3:2+6.  This sounds more like human army captain boasting than it does like divine instructions.

It is a given that when soldiers go to war they will kill or be killed.  When an army attacks, kills, or in other ways destroys the non-combatants: men, women and children of the opposing country, it is classified as war crimes.  It is atrocious and inhumane.  It is what humans do; it is not Jehovah's way.

For the next story of this kind, in the Bible, we need to have a bit of history first. 

The end of the era of the judges happened when Samuel anointed Saul to be king of Israel.

The Amalekites attacked Israel while Israel was on its way from Egypt to the promised land. If, as said earlier, the Book of Judges covers 400 years, after which Eli judged Israel 40 years, and now when Samuel, the next, and last judge of Israel, is old he makes the following statement to King Saul.  

Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. 1 Sam. 15:1–3.  Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. 1 Sam. 15:33–34.  This is about 500 years after the Amalekites fought Israel in the wilderness.  Samuel and the Israelites really carry a grudge that long?   The human approach is if you think you can win, then, by all means, start a war.

At another point in the history of Israel we find this statement: And he (Saul and his army) struck Nob, the city of the priests, with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and babes, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword. 1 Sam. 22:19.  Let us not attribute this kind of activity to Jehovah.

Stories like this just make us wish that Jesus would hurry and come back and set up His kingdom of peace!  Then there will be no more atrocities like these.

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