Why Would God Want Nations To Be Destroyed?

One of the biggest complaints about God that Skeptics and Atheists have is in this area. Why does the God of the Old Testament seem mean and cruel? These people complain that God is a bully, Here is a quote from Richard Dawkins, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” So, this is the understanding of who God is, by those who are Skeptics and Atheists. But why do they say that? Let’s look at some verses they use. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you… you shall utterly destroy them.You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them…. For they will turn your sons away
from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord
will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them:You shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their
Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. (Deut. 7:1-5)”.
In order for us to understand the whole situation, we have to have some background information first. It’s not as simple as a bunch of nations just doing their own thing, and having God come down and spoil their fun by killing them. Let’s take a look at some of the things they were doing.
I’m taking my information from an article called, “Solid Ground” from Stand to Reason, an apologetics ministry (www.str.org). Here are some of the things you would find in a Pagan culture. It was not all fun and games. These people were far from civilized at this point (although they were civilized at one time, their civilizations were going down the drain, so to speak).
“God was angry. Indeed, He was furious.And with good reason. Even by ancient standards, the Canaanites were a hideously nasty bunch. Their culture was grossly immoral, decadent to its roots. Its debauchery was dictated primarily by its fertility religion that tied eroticism of all varieties to the successful agrarian cycles of planting and harvest. In addition to divination, witchcraft, and female and male temple sex, Canaanite idolatry encompassed a host of morally disgusting practices that mimicked the sexually perverse conduct of their Canaanite fertility gods: adultery, homosexuality, transvestitism, pederasty (men sexually abusing boys), sex with all sorts of beasts,10 and incest. Note that after the Canaanite city Sodom was destroyed, Lot’s daughters immediately seduced their drunken father, imitating one of the sexual practices of the city just annihilated (Gen. 19:30-36).”
One of the worst things that these Canaanite people did was to take their children (usually infants, but some children up to age 4) to a statue of an idol named ‘Molech’ . Here is a description of an idol these people would take their children to, in order to sacrifice them: A bronze image of Kronos was set up among them, stretching out its cupped hands above a bronze cauldron, which would burn the child.As the flame burning the child surrounded the body, the limbs would shrivel up and the mouth would appear to
grin as if laughing, until it was shrunk enough to slip into the cauldron.
If you lived in Canaan during that time period, there is a good possibility that you would have done this to your children. Or maybe your parents would have done that to you. What do you think the children were thinking as the parents brought them to this statue? They most certainly would have felt betrayed. Do you think that God should have intervened? You probably would hope that He would have.
Wherever tragedies occur, people usually ask where God is. I’m sure during the Holocaust, people were wondering about God. Today in America, we have school shootings happen at various times, and we wonder where God is. But have we forgotten that we have turned our backs on Him and have said that we don’t want God here? How can we expect God’s blessings and care if we don’t want Him around?
The interesting thing about the Canaanites and other Pagan lands in the Old Testament days, is that they really weren’t that far removed from God. When God created Adam and Eve, God walked with Adam and Eve every day and they learned from God what they needed to know. But we see the first tragedy happen when their oldest son kills the other son because of a jealousy issue. Adam and Eve had the best teaching around, because they learned directly from God Himself! Yet, the following generation faltered. About 7 generations later, the world had gotten so bad, that the Bible says that people invented new ways of evil. It is interesting to note that the two great commands are to 1. Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2. Love our neighbor as ourselves. When we read about the evil nations that God wanted to have destroyed, we think that God is being unfair. We think these nations are just minding their own business, and God wants to come in to destroy them and take away their fun. But that is not so. People were so wicked that they were destroying one another. They were torturing others. Life must have been horrifying for those who lived in those lands. They probably wished they could have died.
At the same time, these nations deliberately turned away from the True and Living God, in order to serve idols. When people live like this, they are affected mentally. They live in fear and torment. Yet, they still would not turn back to God. But God still had a plan to redeem mankind. But in order to do this, the Israelites would have to follow specific directions from God. If they did this, and if they didn’t follow the other nations in their idolatry, God would provide out of their own people, a redeemer, who would redeem not only the Israelites, but also people in all the other nations.
People still might wonder why God doesn’t seem merciful in the Old Testament times. After all, these Pagans didn’t get to hear the Gospel before they were destroyed. Well, lets look at something that happened in Jericho. God told Joshua and his men to destroy the city of Jericho. There was a woman who knew about the Israelites and knew that the True and Living God was with them. She asked the spies who came into the land, to spare her and her family from being destroyed when the time would come for the city to be destroyed. The spies promised to spare her and her family. They asked her to put a red cord out of her window and they would spare her and her family. She feared God. God protected her and her family while the walls came down in the city of Jericho. Everyone else was destroyed except this woman and her family. Her name was Rahab. She was an ancestor of God’s promised Redeemer that He sent to earth 2,000 years ago. His name is Jesus Christ, and He died to take away the sins of the world.
So, if you live in a city where people are allowed to do whatever they want to each other, would you be content to live there? Would you want God to intervene? Or would you just want to continue to live in a dangerous place where there would be no safety or peace?
Another situation in the Bible comes to mind as well. There was a man named Lot, who was a nephew of a man named Abraham, who was the father of the Jewish nation. When Abraham and Lot (and their families) got into the promised land, Abraham took one area, and Lot went to another area, which was beautiful. It was called, ‘Sodom’. Lot and his family lived in Sodom for a period of time. In Genesis 18, we read about God telling Abraham that He is going to have to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. I find verse 20 interesting: “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;” To me, it sounds like there were people crying in that land and God was hearing their cry. People were suffering at the expense of the pleasure of others. God was giving the warning that He was going to destroy this group of people living in this particular land. Abraham had a question for God. He asked if there were 50 righteous people in the land, would God destroy the land. He asked the same question, but with different numbers. Basically, God would not destroy the land if righteous people were living in it. But God’s plan came about by having angels take the hands of those in his family to escape the land. God was serious and wanted them to leave. He was telling them to get out. Lot’s family was resisting. They didn’t want to leave their beautiful area and all they had, but they fled. Lot’s wife unfortunately went back and turned into a pillar of salt.
So, what’s the point? God intervenes. When people are suffering at the hands of others, God will intervene. He will intervene by having societies destroyed. But God is merciful and He would rather have people repent and be spared than have to destroy them.
Ultimately, all that God commanded the Israelites to do in destroying nations was done in order to save people. God loves people, but He never makes or forces people to love Him in return. He commands us to repent and turn to Him. If we don’t, there will be serious, eternal, irrevocable consequences. But that is our choice. If we refuse to turn to Him, we will be destroyed, if not in this life, certainly in the next. But if we turn to Him in repentance and faith, He will abundantly take care of us, and we will be blessed recipients of His mercy forever.
Source: http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/Enhanced_SG_January_2013.pdf?docID=6822

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