My Question:Justify God's Morality


(tim) #1

Hi everyone,

How do we justify morality as Christians when it suited God to wipe out certain nations?
i have heard atheists argue this point when we argue that without God there is no moral compass.


(Jimmy Sellers) #2

@timlza, this is a great question and one that, in my opinion, can not be easily answered. I think that the folks who ask this are usually predisposed to believe that the Bible is suspect book that can be trusted or is even relevant for todays culture. Reading between the lines they are saying we have made many advancements in science and technology and are beyond the need of any moral compass . I might agree but then there is history, a history that less than like to man’s treatment of man. The 20th century is the bloodiest century on record. I am going to stick my neck out and say that very few of these death comparatively speaking , are linked to Christianity and if you look into the motives you will find a decidedly anti-thesis motivation behind most of the great atrocities.

I have posted a link to an article that gives a good explanation to some of your questions.

https://carm.org/god-of-old-testament-a-monster

the article covers a many of the Biblical passages that atheists normally go to. From the article an excerpt of 6 point to ponder:

  1. God declares an annihilation form of judgment to stamp out a cancer.
  2. The judgments are for public recognition of extreme sin.
  3. Judgment is preceded by warning and/or long periods of exposure to the truth and time to repent.
  4. Any and all ‘innocent’ adults are given a way of escape with their families; sometimes all given a way to avoid judgment via repentance or leaving a particular region. It should also be noted that expulsion from a land was the most common judgment, not extermination. This pattern goes all the way back to the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:24).
  5. Someone is almost always saved (redeemed) from the evil culture.
  6. The judgment of God falls.>

And a quote from the article from A.WS. Tozer which I think underscores the importance of your question and the importance of a Biblically sound answer to the skeptic :

An accurate understanding of the nature and characteristics of God is paramount; a fact captured well by A.W. Tozer who writes: **“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”4

I hope this helps and if you have any other questions feel free to post this is a very good community and they all have a heart for God.


(SeanO) #3

@timlza Thank you for your question. @Jimmy_Sellers Made some great points regarding the way in which God generally comes against a nation. Here are some further thoughts that I hope will be helpful. Please feel free to ask any additional questions.

May the Lord grant you peace on this topic and wisdom as you reach out to others with the truth of God’s Word.

God Raises Up Nations and Brings Them Down

Daniel 2:21 - “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

Psalms 10:16 - The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.

Psalms 9:7-8 - The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.

God, being God, has a plan for the nations. He does bring judgment on nations for their wickedness. It’s simply that in the case of Israel the nation being used to judge the other was aware of the role they were playing in the process. In Isaiah 19:1 we see the Lord coming in judgment against Egypt, but clearly not through Israel. Psalms 9 and 10 are good reads regarding this idea as well.

Isaiah 19:1 - A prophecy against Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

Israel is Not An Exception to the Rule

Deuteronomy 28:15 - However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.

God was not promoting tribalism or nationalism. He judged Israel later for their own sins and sent Assyria / Babylon against them for their injustice against the poor and their idolatry. An angel of the Lord even says to Joshua that he is not on one side of the battle, but fights for the Lord.

Joshua 5:13-14 - Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

God Gave them Hundreds of Years to Repent

Genesis 15:16 - In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.

God did not act indiscriminately. He allowed the nation hundreds of years - a good portion of America’s entire history - to repent of their evil deeds. God’s judgment was just and not done hastily.

The Canaanites Were Not Innocent Agrarian Farmers

The Canaanites were some bad dudes. They burned children alive in the arms of bronze statues of false gods and committed bestiality and a host of other such sins. Here is an article I found a while back detailing the nature of Canaanite degradation. It is also if interest that during the 4 generations God gave them to repent, the Canaanites degrade morally.

canaanites.pdf (873.7 KB)

God Takes No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked

Ezekiel 18:30-32 - Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Ezekiel 33:11 - Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Driven Out Instead of Completely Destroyed

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys .’” (1 Sam 15:2-3)

Paul Copan suggests that this language of ‘totally destroy’ was not literal, but was common military language used for complete victory, like when we say that one sports team ‘wiped out’ another one. He also suggests that the cities Israel wiped out were civilian targets; not military ones. And that God’s purpose was to drive the Canaanites out; not utterly destroy them.

Here is Copan’s article and a short summary of this position from another website.

Copan’s Article

"The record shows that Joshua fully obeyed the Lord’s command:

Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded…. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses. (Josh. 10:40, 11:15)

Still, at the end of Joshua’s life it was clear that many Canaanites continued to live in the land, left to be driven out gradually by the next generation (Josh. 23:12-13, Judges 1:21, 27-28). According to Copan, if Joshua did all that was expected of him, yet multitudes of Canaanites remained alive, then clearly the command to destroy all who breathed was not to be taken literally, but hyperbolically.

If these arguments go through—if God did not command the utter and indiscriminate destruction of men, women, and children by Joshua’s armies, but simply authorized an appropriate cleansing military action to drive out Israel’s (and God’s) enemies—then the critic’s challenge is largely resolved, it seems."


Why would God use Israel to judge Canaan
(Lakshmi Mehta) #4

That’s s great question and thanks for the answers @SeanO, @Jimmy_Sellers. To piggyback on that question, how should one explain the harsh judgment in the the old testament laws. For example:
Exodus 21:17 "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
Exodus 31:14 Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.


(tim) #5

Thanks everyone for the replies. I feel much more enlightened on the subject now.

My personal view was that God is the Creator, and like a good parent, knows best and has all authority over His creation.

But now i see there is vast depth and reason behind the actions.

On a side note, i have heard pastors preach on this topic justifying it back to the corruption of mankind between angels and humans, and even going right back to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15.
Not sure how theologically sound these arguments may be, but they do provide food for thought and possibly further reasoning behind God’s plans.

I must add that i thought this question carried a lot of weight and wasn’t sure that there was an acceptable answer. But God continues to amaze me at how He really doesn’t hide anything from His creation, and if one searches the answers are there.


(tim) #6

Hi Sean

Thanks for the pdf on the Canaanites.
A fascinating read.
Scary and sobering when i consider the ancient lifestyle of sin in relation to our modern culture.


(SeanO) #7

@Lakshmismehta This question, I believe, is answerable in two ways - both related to the idea of holiness. Here is a video from the Bible Project on holiness that I thought was helpful. Then I have a few points about the topic. Do you find these ideas helpful?

God’s Presence Among Israel Required Holiness

In order for God to dwell among the camp of the Israelites they have to be holy - or set apart. We even see Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, emphasizing the need to come before God with a pure heart. Jesus did not lessen the need for purity, but heightened it, because now we have the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and not simply in the temple. The veil in the temple was torn when Jesus died - so now by the blood of Christ we are made clean and God’s presence can dwell within us!

Matthew 5:23-24 - Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Galatians 5:16 - So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

This explanation of Leviticus from The Bible Project is something I found helpful. The laws may seem harsh, but for God to dwell in Israel’s camp the nation had to be holy - set apart - pure. In a way this is a lesson for all of us - God does not ‘blink’ at any sin (recalling our other conversation). We are to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45/I Peter 1:16).

God Was Teaching Israel To Be Holy - Not Like Other Nations

God knew that if Israel chose to commit idolatry, fornication and evil acts like the surrounding nations it would lead to their destruction. He knew that they needed sharp reminders not to return to idolatry and the Canaanite way of life. So part of how the OT rules and regulations function is to help the Israelite community live the life of holiness - or set apartness - that they were called to live. They had to be set apart - different from the surrounding culture - or they too would likewise perish.

Also, these laws gave Israel outward reminders of the need to be inwardly holy. They helped the nation remember that it need to love God first. They were a way of reminding Israel to be different - to be set apart - on a daily basis.

Deuteronomy 18:9 - When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

Deut 6:14 - Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you

Deut 12:30 - and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”


(SeanO) #8

@timlza I am glad you found the resources helpful :slight_smile: Yes, we worship an amazing God and as we patiently seek answers from His Word and walk with Him daily light is shed upon many difficult topics. His Word is truth! I am always amazed at how much more true to real life and nuanced the answers of Scripture are than the often flattened / reductionist answers that are pervasive in the culture. Certainly it sometimes takes wrestling and prayers over the course of our lives to grapple with some of these topics, but God has never failed to grant wisdom when I have asked and His truth is so much more beautiful than the way that leads to corruption.

May the Lord continue to grant you wisdom as you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus!


(Jimmy Sellers) #9

I cannot add anything to @SeanO answer (I really like the Bible Project videos) but I would like to add an additional resource on the idea of purity codes in the OT as they also carry forward into the New Testament as Jesus regularly breaks them.

This was and is a very good resource on the subject of purity codes…Hope this helps.


(Patrick Teo) #10

Let examine the attributes of God. God is sovereign, omniscience, omnipresent, omnipotent. The meaning of omnipotent has a moral absolute within the content.

God is love & just. He can not call a square a round, can not call evil good, cannot kill without justice. In fact, God is a moral supreme Creator. The moment He steps out the boundary of moral absolute and commits evil, He would not longer be classified as God but a devil instead! However, He can turn evil that men do into benefit Him and others, such as the stories of David, Joseph and Daniel.

The concept of predestined has put God under the light of scrutiny! It created different thoelogical doctrines between Arminanism & Calvisnism. Strictly speaking, there is no contradicting in term! Although God has predestined men as in the Book of John stated by Jesus that no men could snatch the sheep my Father has given me, but God never say that the sheep himself cannot have the reservation to exercise his freedom to refuse. As predestined is very different from predetermined because predetermined has leave the sheep no choice to act and predestined has!!! The banquet of the wedding in the Bible, the guests were too busy to come, but the feast was predestined so God so love the world, Jesus’s blood is freely predestined to everyone :slight_smile: Therefore, predestined does not affect the attribute of God. This is the latest explanation which is far more logical than the doctrine throughout the centuries! I know i am off the track at bit, nevertheless, my aim is to drive home the sovereignty of God.

In conclusion, due to the attribute of God, i perceive Lakshmi’s statement mentioned as the following has the most logical answer as the following:
On a side note, i have heard pastors preach on this topic justifying it back to the corruption of mankind between angels and humans, and even going right back to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15.
Not sure how theologically sound these arguments may be, but they do provide food for thought and possibly further reasoning behind God’s plans.

Logical explanation is Devil has been condemned to everlasting hell. The mingling of human beings and the Devil has made it impossible for God to save mankind by the blood of Jesus. i do not think any other waterdown theological interpretation can fully justify the reason for God to kill every single living thing. i believe that God meaning absolutely everything!
i am a bit heavy handed, welcome to commence:)


(SeanO) #11

@Jimmy_Sellers Thanks for the resource!


(Lakshmi Mehta) #12

@SeanO, @Jimmy_Sellers, thanks for the resources. I find the Bible project videos helpful.

This statement above completely answers the question for me. It also convicted me that self-justification and minimization of sin on our part offends God deeply. What I also got out of it is to make it a goal to view God’s presence in our hearts the same way the Israelites viewed God’s presence in their camp.

@timlza, thanks for starting the great thread and allowing me to hop on with my question.


(SeanO) #13

“to view God’s presence in our hearts the same way the Israelites viewed God’s presence in their camp” @Lakshmismehta Well said! Glad the videos were helpful.

Here are a few verses that talk about walking in the Spirit, which is in my opinion one New Testament way of talking about living in such a way that God’s Spirit can dwell within you as His temple and sanctify you from glory to glory. Romans 6-8 and Galatians 5 are two masterful explanations of this topic.

Romans 8:12-13 - Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 5:19-25 - The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:29-32 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.