The Old Testament is rife with instances of God ordering the Israelites to murder and destroy their neighbors and to rip the unborn children out of women’s’ bellies. Why?
This is a loaded question! Because of it, some people question God’s love and ask themselves how a loving God could encourage the Israelites to destroy entire nations. Is this not inconsistent with the notion of God’s love? Let us explore what the Bible (our guide to life) has to say about this.
1 Sam 15:18 “And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’” NIV
It is clear that God gave orders to destroy entire nations. Please note that God did not encourage wiping out God-fearing nations, but “wicked” people. Why would God be so inclined to wipe out “wicked people”?
Ex 23:32-33 “Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.” NIV
If these people were to live among the Israelites, they would “cause them to sin” against God. Sin is catchy. There is no doubt about that. Look around you and watch how sin propagates itself faster than any other deadly disease. However, we as humans would try everything in our means to wipe a disease like leukemia, but we stand still in front of the deadliest disease of all: sin, even contemplating it! Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” NIV Sin is deadly and if not taken seriously and not taken care off by the power of God’s Spirit, it will lead you right to your grave and to eternal destiny: hell.
Now what is a snare? According to www.dictionary.com it’s “A trapping device, often consisting of a noose, used for capturing birds and small mammals.” A snare has a lure and when an animal try to gets to the lure, the snare traps them. No escape is possible!
Sin is compared to a deadly snare like. There is no doubt about that, if you are attracted by the lure and you want to taste that lure from hell, it will entrap you and you will live in bondage! Sin is deadly!
Deut 7:1-5 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you — and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.” NIV
If you think yourself strong enough to resist sin, good for you! But what about your sons and daughters? Remember sin is catchy and spreads itself faster than any other deadly disease!
Deut 20:16-18 “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you. 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.” NIV
This text confirms what we have discovered. The sad part of it is that the Israelites did not obey the Lord fully in this. Yes, they did wipe our some of the towns, but they also kept other towns safe and the people of these towns were used as their slaves. Their disobedience led to a catastrophe: before they knew it, they started to follow the atrocious sins of the inhabitants of these lands. It ended up in their Babylonian exile and the destruction of their beloved city Jerusalem. Sin is costly! Sin is deadly!
Ex 34:11-12 “Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.” NIV
Disregarding God’s command, the Israelites were ensnared in the sins of the land that eventually led to their destruction as a nation.
Did you know that God revealed to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved for four hundred years and that they would come out of that enslaving nation with “great possessions” and would take possession of the Promised Land? Now, why could the Israelites not take over their promised land earlier than this? Read:
Gen 15:13-16 “Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”” NIV
Wow! God was still working on the Amorites, but their constant rebellion towards God led eventually to their destruction. God was patient. He wanted these people saved, but they didn’t want to be. There comes a moment when sin has to be dealt with (see Sodom and Gomorrah Gen. 19 and the flood Gen. 7)
Deut 9:5 “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” NIV
Israel didn’t deserve the Promised Land. They hadn’t done anything to deserve it. However, the “wickedness of these nations” had reached its limit and it was time that their sin was dealt with.
Please note that it is not our place to deal with people’s sins. Our task is to spread the gospel message (see Matthew 28:18-20) and lead people to victory over their addictions, which can only be done through our friend Jesus Christ.
Our world still lives in open rebellion towards God and sin is rampant everywhere. You can be assured that our sins will reach it’s limit as well one day soon and God will deal with our sin. It is in the Scriptures:
2 Peter 3:7 “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” NIV
Heb 10:26-27 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” NIV
You can still escape certain destruction, my friend. It isn’t too late yet. The fullness of your sins has not reached heaven yet. It soon will, though. Come to Jesus. He is waiting for you with open arms. He wants to give you victory over your addictive sin. He wants to shower you with His love and with inner peace. The choice is yours. Nobody else can make that decision for you. Will you accept Him into your heart now? Come and answer His call at http://www.answers2prayer.org/saviours_call.html . Victory is yours through Jesus Christ!
The primary reason was punishment for horrific sins and wrongdoing. The people of the destroyed cities had long histories of grievous sins, (Gen 15:16, Dt 25:17-19), which often included sacrificing their children to false gods (Dt 12:29-31). Their consciences should have told these people they were doing terribly wrong and going against the Lord. Had they listened and repented, they would not have been destroyed. God has said that if any nation is about to be destroyed as punishment but repents and changes their ways, He will forgive them and not destroy them (Jer 18:7-8). In fact, this occurred in the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3:4-10).
In the cities that were given to the Israelites as their inheritance, there was yet another reason: totally depraved cultures were destroyed so that they would not corrupt the Israelites into committing the same evil and satanic acts (Dt 7:1-4, 20:16-18). This did occur: when the Israelites didn’t obey God and destroy cities, they too began practicing child sacrifice (Ps 106:34-40).
Also, the destruction of wicked nations served as an instructive warning to contemporaries (Josh 2:1-11) and future generations (1 Cor 10:1-11).
In the accounts of the Israelites being ordered to destroy people, they were people in Canaan who were Satan worshippers and God made this clear when he gave the command. These people served Molech and Baal and they were the gods the Canaanites sacrificed their first born children to.
As to God ordering the Israelites to rip unborn children out of the womb, I’d like to know what passage in the Bible you are referring to as a command. All I remember is the Israelites agonized response to what was done to their women by their enemies. Passages in Psalms are the emotional responses of people like King David, not commandments of God.