Russell and Duenes

We Destroyed the Men, Women and Children Alike

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“[T]he Lord told me, ‘Do not be afraid of [Og], for I have given you victory over Og and his entire army, and I will give you all his land…So the Lord our God handed King Og and all his people over to us, and we killed them all. Not a single person survived…Not a single town escaped our conquest…We completely destroyed the kingdom of Bashan, just as we had destroyed King Sihon of Heshbon. We destroyed all the people in every town we conquered—men, women, and children alike.” ~ Deut. 3:2-4, 6.

This is the kind of Old Testament text at which we modern Christians recoil. It seems to smack much of the Allah of fevered Muslim extremist imagination, and we are loathe to be lumped in his devotees. If we can distance ourselves from the above image of God by invoking the mild-mannered Jesus, so much the better. Yet Jesus Himself was at pains to tell us that He and God the Father are one, and that if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father. The words above from Deuteronomy are spiritual words from the heart and mouth of Jesus himself.

Of course, God’s program in our world has changed in its current expression and call, but God’s character has not. The same God is coming again, as the creed says, “to judge the living and the dead.”

It’s hard to reckon the God who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” as the God who hands over even the women and children of Bashan to be destroyed. But this is not some capricious anger that arose in a moment. By the time we get to Deuteronomy, God has already killed everyone on earth save Noah and his family. He has rained fire on the Sodomites and Gomorrahites. He sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians, ultimately slaying the firstborn in every Egyptian home. And such deeds were not reserved only for non-Israelites. God opened up the ground and swallowed Korah and his minions alive, along with their wives and children, to give just one example. As C.S. Lewis made sure to remind us: The lion Aslan is not safe (though He’s good).

Our command in the New Testament, under Jesus, is to “persuade” others of their need of God’s saving work. We are to “disciple the nations” in love, by proclamation of the gospel and good deeds done in Jesus’ name and power. Yet we ought to carry out this Commission strong in the knowledge that we go in the name of a God who is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” in the name of the Jesus from whose “mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations,” and who “will rule them with a rod of iron” and “tread the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” (Rev. 19:15). Father, let us not run afoul of you. May your character put a proper fear in us, so that, like the Israelites, we may be careful to obey your commands and keep your statutes, for our good and the good of our fellow man. 



Written by Michael Duenes

September 27, 2014 at 11:45 am

Posted in Deuteronomy, Duenes

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