Why did the God of the Bible authorize genocide?

WHY DID THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AUTHORIZE GENOCIDE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The God of the Bible is a bloodthirsty monster. He advocated genocide—the merciless killing of innocent women and children. Why?”

Above is the highly sensitive inquiry that is the most favorite crutch of Bible ridiculers. Dear friends, we must remove it by demonstrating it to be the specious argument that it is. For far too long, Christians (also without knowledge) have permitted mockers to carelessly use the Bible against them. The ignorance concerning this issue is one primary reason why Holy Scripture is endlessly derided. They are all uninformed regarding the things of God! Our goal in the ensuing paragraphs is to fully explain from the Scriptures why the God of the Bible supported genocide (the violent annihilation of entire peoples).

Moreover, it is argued that Allah’s jihad—Islam’s holy war against non-Muslims—is justified because the God of Judaism and Christianity also called for the extermination of unbelievers. Therefore, Jews and Christians (supposedly) should not object to Muslims beheading non-Muslims. How could the God of the Bible encourage the Israelites to commit genocide? Is it not cruel for JEHOVAH God to command the Jews to kill even Gentile children living in the land of Canaan? As Bible-believing Christians, we should have an intelligent response prepared for any sincere seekers. We would be honored to show you how to reply most effectively.

REALITY CHECK!

Without doubt, there is nothing sillier or more pathetic than when a mortal man complains that Almighty God “should have done this” or “should not have done that.” In case you have not noticed, friend, none of us are God!! Consequently, we should stop dictating to Him what we foolishly think He should have or should not have done. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Friends, the LORD God has His reasons for whatever He says or does, whether or not we understand them. We can be absolutely sure, beyond any (ANY!) shadow of a doubt, that whatever He does is completely justified. It does not matter if we agree with Him. He is still (and will always be) right! It does not matter if we approve of what He did. He did not have to consult us or ask our permission. It will be a happy day in the lives of billions when they stop pretending to be God and start remembering that we are weaklings and preschoolers compared to Him. Dearly beloved, it is high time for us to quit claiming to be the Creator and be content with being the creature!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN TRESPASSERS

It is highly important that we pause to understand the character and behavior of the Gentiles who lived in the land of Canaan before the Jewish nation entered under their leader Joshua. Those Gentiles were actually living in land that was not their own. Long before Israel was in Egyptian slavery, the LORD God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed forever. Genesis 15:13-16 records that oath: “[13] And he [the LORD God] 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.”

Also, Genesis 17:3-8: “[3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. [5] Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. [6] And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. [7] And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. [8] And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob, were heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 26:1-5; Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 28:12-15). Jacob fathered 12 sons who became the patriarchs of Israel’s 12 tribes, and these 12 tribes inherited the Abrahamic Covenant (Exodus 2:23-25; Deuteronomy 1:6-10). When famine struck Canaan, Jacob and the 12 tribes migrated south to Egypt (Genesis chapters 45–50). This is how the Book of Genesis concludes. The Book of Exodus opens with Israel not only dwelling in Egypt now, but also slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus chapters 1–2).

When God delivers the Jews from Egypt and brings them to the borders of the Promised Land under Moses, they refuse to enter because of unbelief (Numbers chapters 13–14; cf. Hebrews 3:7–4:10). Therefore, the LORD God let Israel wander for 40 years in the desert until that generation of unbelievers died off. Moses expires and God buries him at the end of Deuteronomy. Under Joshua, the nation Israel enters the Promised Land. We will stop, as this is enough background for our purposes here. We move on to the Bible’s “genocide” passages that greatly vex people.

Deuteronomy 20:16: “But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:….” Joshua 10:40: “So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.” Joshua chapter 11: “[11] And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire…. [14] And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.”

Joshua chapter 10: “[28] And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [30] And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho…. [32] And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. [33] Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.

“[35] And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish…. [37] And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein. [39] And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. [40] So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.”

The God of the Bible, the God of creation, had given the land of Canaan to Israel. During the 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, the Gentiles in Canaan heard the news of the parting of the Red Sea and God’s destruction of Egypt. They knew that the land belonged to Israel, and yet they were still there when Israel arrived under Joshua. They were usurpers, people cooperating with Satan to corrupt the land that God had reserved for Himself. Almighty God, JEHOVAH God, the Creator of the Earth, could give the land to whomever He wanted. It was nobody’s land but His, and He had a right to give it to Israel’s 12 tribes. “For all the earth is mine(Exodus 19:5). “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Some three centuries after Joshua, JEHOVAH God instructed Israel’s first king, Saul, in 1 Samuel chapter 15: “[1] Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. [2] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. [3] 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. Since Amalek fought and attempted to steal God’s provision from Israel centuries earlier (Exodus 17:8-16), God would see to it that Amalek’s descendants be thoroughly destroyed (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19). They cursed Israel, and now God would curse them (Genesis 12:3).

WHY KILL THE YOUNG CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY THE BABIES?

Surely, God did not view the young children and babies as evildoers when they were unable to know right from wrong. We do not know God’s mind here, as Scripture is silent in these passages. However, there is enough revelation given elsewhere in the Bible to allow us to make inferences.

Firstly, Almighty God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. If Gentile children were allowed to remain therein, then they would have grown up and outnumbered God’s people in their own land. Pharaoh King of Egypt had adopted a similar mentality when dealing with multiplying Israel in Exodus 1:7-14. With the Jews experiencing a population explosion, Pharaoh realized that they would eventually side with Egypt’s enemies in wartime. The Egyptians would lose their authority in their own territory. The same was true with Israel and the heathen inhabitants of Canaan. The Gentiles had to be removed so God could reclaim the land for Himself. God’s nation needed to flourish, and the only way was to remove the competition. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Secondly, it was actually to the Gentiles’ benefit that their children be killed. When we read about the horrible acts that the nations committed in God’s land before He brought Israel into it (we will read those Bible passages shortly), we can see that these youngsters were spared adult lives of pagan darkness and utter wickedness. There is no doubt in this author’s mind that God had mercy on these little ones’ souls, and they did not meet the eternal doom their parents did. The same could be said of all the millions of young children who perished in the Great Flood of Noah’s day. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Thirdly, at least some of these heathen children carried the genes that gave rise to the giants in the Promised Land. These giants were Satan’s primary method in discouraging Israel from fighting to possess the land in Moses’ day (see Numbers 13:26-33; Deuteronomy 3:11; Deuteronomy 9:1-2). The corrupt seed-line had to be exterminated—and it was by means of the efforts of David (killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4-58) and others (2 Samuel 21:1-22)! “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Lastly, had God not commanded Israel to fight and slay in battle all the Gentiles of Canaan, Satan’s policy of evil would have continued unabated in the Earth. The property—yea, all the planet—would be polluted again with idolatry. Through Noah, functioning as a prophet, God had cursed Canaan and his children (Genesis 9:25-27). God knew that Israel would have to come centuries later into the Promised Land and conquer the evil Canaanites. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

At this point, a simple question must be asked, friends. Do you let strangers come into your house and take over as if it were their own? Do you throw your children out and let foreigners enter and eat all your food, use your amenities, and sleep in your beds? No? Then do not get upset with JEHOVAH God when He refused to let His enemies take over and enjoy His land! You have your right to personal property, and so does the Creator God. He does not have to check with anyone before determining who is and who is not going to enter His property. He makes the rules. Again, we should stop being disrespectful, cease our prideful claims, and start showing reverence to our Maker. He does not owe us one thing. Without Him, we would not even exist. He is self-sufficient, and does not need us. Show Him some respect!!

THE LAND OF CANAAN: HEATHEN DEFILEMENT

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 delineates for us the Satanic influence in the land of Canaan as operating in and through the Gentiles:

“[9] When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. [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. [13] Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. [14] For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.” 

The LORD God told Israel, in Leviticus 18:24-30, not to repeat the errors of the Gentiles in the Promised Land: “[24] Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: [25] And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. [26] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: [27] (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled; ) [28] That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. [29] For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. [30] Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”

The warning is repeated again, in Leviticus 20:22-26: “[22] Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. [23] And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. [24] But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. [25] Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. [26] And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”

What were the horrific and specific sins of the Gentiles living in Canaan when Israel entered? Read Leviticus chapters 18–20, a really eye-opening section of Scripture!!

WHAT SHOULD WE CHRISTIANS BELIEVE AND DO TODAY?

Do the aforementioned verses mean that Christianity today involves killing non-Christians? No!! Today, in the Age of Grace, the God of the Bible offers peace to us through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. All nations have access to Him by faith in Calvary’s sacrifice. The ground is level at the foot of Calvary’s cross. We do not have to become converts of any special religion (Judaism) to have a right standing before God. No water baptism is necessary. Speaking in tongues is unnecessary. Sabbath-day keeping is not required. No confession of sin is needed. No commandment-keeping is necessary.

It should also be noted that the God of the Bible is not interested in purging or reclaiming the Earth today. He is currently forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people, who will be His agents in establishing His headship in the government of the heavenly places (read Ephesians chapters 1–3 and Colossians chapter 1). In time past, He was interested in cleansing the Earth of Satan’s policy of evil. That purpose has been temporarily suspended because its prophetic program has been paused. God is operating our Dispensation of Grace today, the mystery program, which we read about in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Also see:
» How can God be jealous and not sin?
» “Neither round the corners of your heads nor mar the corners of your beard?”
» “Neither make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks on you?”

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