1 Samuel 15:2-4 (NKJV)
2 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. 3 Now go and attack[a] 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.’ ”
This is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever written.
If you accept the bible as the infallible word of God, then we must admit there are some difficult things within the word to understand and accept. As we view the word from a perspective thousands of years from when it was breathed into man, we find ourselves viewing it with a 21st Century perspective. This makes decisions that God made very difficult to understand and accept. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting this.
One of the most difficult things for me to personally understand is when God commanded that His people kill everyone…men, women, children, cattle — EVERTYTHING! Why God? Why?
It’s also nothing wrong with admitting that we don’t know why God chose and chooses to do what He does. We just have to trust Him. Link: WHY IT’S OKAY TO ADMIT THAT WE DON’T KNOW WHY GOD DOES EVERYTHING HE DOES…
However, if we step back and look at both the Old and New Testaments from an eternal perspective, though difficult, some decisions become a little more clear.
I’m going to try and make this as concise as possible, so the scriptures I’m giving for reference are by no means exhaustive. I encourage you to please study this further for yourself.
So, let’s talk about why did God demand that Israel completely destroy everything?
1. THE OLD TESTAMENT GIVES US EXTREME EXAMPLES OF BEHAVIOR GOD HATES…
The Apostle Paul reminds us that everything written in the Old Testament was written for our example.
1 Corinthians 10:5-11 (NKJV)
5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us [a]tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now [b]all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our [c]admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Romans 15:4 (NKJV)
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the [a]patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope
First of all, let’s remember that God issues this severe judgment to His own people when they rebelled, not just ‘heathens’. Don’t forget how God allowed the ground to open up and swallow the entire families of those who were involved in Korah’s rebellion…
Numbers 16:31-34 (NKJV)
31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!”
God also reminded believers of our accountability in the New Testament…
1 Peter 4:17 (NKJV)
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
That’s why we should never take for granted God’s grace and the fact that there is no condemnation when we truly repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior…
Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who[a] do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2. GOD WAS FULFILLING HIS PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
The land that God promised to Abraham’s descendants was already inhabited. The inhabitants of those lands worshipped idols and did not accept the Lord God of Israel as the only true and living God. Therefore, God dispossessed those already living in these lands as Israel crossed the Jordan river and fought the people already living there…
Deuteronomy 3:2 (NKJV)
2 And the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’
Deuteronomy 11:23-25 (NKJV)
23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the [a]Western Sea, shall be your territory. 25 No man shall be able to stand [b]against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
3. IT WAS GOD’S JUDGMENT ON NATIONS THAT WORSHIPPED IDOLS & REJECTED HIM…
As God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, He pronounced judgment on those nations that rejected Him as the only true and living God.
Deuteronomy 9:4 (NKJV)
4 (A)“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is(B)because of the wickedness of these nations thatthe Lord is driving them out from before you.
Deuteronomy 20:16-18 (NKJV)
16 “But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 lest they teach you to do according to all their [a]abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.
There are those who try and justify the violence and genocide of colonization in more recent history (such as towards Native Americans or slavery in America, but God is no longer fulfilling that promise to Abraham. That chapter in history has ended and God’s Old Testament judgments can’t be used to justify the greed of the more recent past centuries.
4. IT WAS TO DESTROY CULTURES & OBJECTS OF IDOL WORSHIP
As God dispossessed those living in the lands He was giving to His people, He instructed Israel to destroy all of the cultures and objects of worship to idol Gods. He didn’t want His people to assimilate to the point of defiling their worship for God with heathen practices.
Deuteronomy 12:2-3 (NKJV)
2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their [a]wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.
Jeremiah 10:2 (KJV)
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Exodus 23:13 (NIV)
13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips. (Think about this the next time you hear someone say “Happy Easter Day!”
It’s unfortunate that many Christians today still aren’t learning from these examples. Rather than destroying objects of pagan worship, too many of us incorporate them into our worship. for example: Link- NAMES MATTER: WHY WE SHOULD CELEBRATE JESUS’ RESURRECTION WITHOUT CALLING IT ‘EASTER’…
The fact is that even though God promised to curse those who disobeyed Him down through many generations, those curses can easily be avoided and removed by rejecting the ‘sins of our fathers’: Link: THE (1) ONE WAY TO REMOVE GENERATIONAL CURSES….
But, many of those who claim to believe in the Lord God of Israel through Yeshua the Messiah, rather than reject the sins of their fathers, instead ‘whitewash’ their history, justify, excuse and even celebrate their ancestors sins as heritage. They therefore pronounce themselves guilty of the same sins and worthy of judgement, as Jesus sharply told the religious leaders in Matthew Chapter 23…
Matthew 23:29-33 (NKJV)
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and [a]adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood[b] of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
It is very uncomfortable to acknowledge and address God’s endorsed extreme violence in the Old Testament. But, we can’t ignore it, but must try to understand it. By ignoring it, we lose all credibility among both believers and unbelievers. Don’t expect those who don’t believe in God to understand, the truth is, it’s difficult for believers to understand God’s judgments. We just have to trust Him.
And remember this: Link- GOOD NEWS: GOD’S ‘JUDGEMENT’ ISN’T ALWAYS PAINFUL…