Cruelty In The Bible?
Israel worships other gods. Is God just to punish them?
THE HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: Deuteronomy 32:23-25 says that after the Israelites incited Gods jealousy by worshiping other gods, he vowed: I will spend mine arrows upon them. . . . The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
These responses to the claims on the American Humanist's web site are intended to be read in sequence. In some cases the answer to an accusation is the same for several accusations.
In addition, the American Humanist's web page is a long one packed with many accusations. I am not a Biblical scholar nor an expert, and few Christians are. But, if the humanists come up with one accusation that I can't answer, then they'll pounce, "Ah ha! He couldn't answer that question. The Bible must be false. There is no God!" This is totally unjust. Just because someone... or you for example... does not know the answer to an accusation, or even multiple accusations, that does not mean the Bible is not true or there is no God. All it means is that neither I, nor you, know everything.
When I have time, I hope to add another section to our web site that examines truth claims made by humanists. They say the Bible is not true and cannot be trusted, but what do they say is true? And can what their truth claims be trusted?
But let's get back to answering accusations that God is cruel. What is going on in Deuteronomy 32?
In this chapter* of Deuteronomy God, as we've seen in the past couple of responses, is warning Israel about what will happen. This is a prophecy God is giving through Moses warning Israel what will happen if they continue what they have been doing..
Unlike the last two prophecies we discussed (Hosea 13:16 and Ezekiel 9:4-7), this is not a specific prophecy. Deuteronomy is a record of the speech Moses gave just before Israel entered the promised land. In this part of the speech God, through Moses, is warning the people of Israel to not turn to other gods. God is looking forward into the future, and warning the people of Israel. Even though they will now be in the promised land, if they turn away from God things will not go well for them.
The phrase "I will spend mine arrows" refers to other kingdoms and empires that God will use to bring justice on Israel.
How does God do this?
By withdrawing His blessing from the nation of Israel, just as He is doing with America today. As God withdraws His blessing, that also withdraws His protection, allowing the enemies of Israel to defeat, plunder, and kill them.
Conclusion: God is not being cruel, He is warning Israel well in advance about what will happen if they turn to other gods. None of the "bad" things that came upon Israel came without warning. Instead of a cruel God we have a loving God. A God who far in advance, and very clearly makes the situation known: if they turn away from God, God will give them what they
want and turn away from them... leaving them open to terror and destruction by their enemies.
Next example: In Numbers chapter 31, the Lord approves of these instructions that Moses gave to the Israelite soldiers about how to treat certain women and children captured in war: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Are these general instructions for war? Why does God command this? Learn the answers, click here.
*This chapter is actually part of a larger prophetic song that begins in Deuteronomy 31:30 and ends in 32:43. The theme of the song is Israel's apostasy which brings God's judgment.