How could God sanction killing in the Old Testament


How could God sanction killing in the Old Testament
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Questions Answered
Friday Night Article
Pastor Steven Birnie
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Good evening from Scotland and I hope this message finds you well. This might sound like a strange subject as part of our Friday Night Article however as most of our readers will have noticed, we’ve been posting and answering many questions, to continue building on our Questions Answered Feature and it was thought that this would be a good one for our readers to enjoy. This particular thread of articles are coming from the Questions Christians can’t answer variety to arm believers with knowledge, not to prove wrong and walk away victorious, but to be confident their reply and in their own words. So I hope you enjoy tonight’s article and I hope you have a blessed weekend……
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One of the most serious challenges I’ve come across when answering questions about the Lord and Christianity has been the question of – how can God sanction the killing of men, women, children and livestock in the Old Testament, if he is indeed a God who loves the world? This particular question tends to be put across in a way that ‘this is a question which Christians can’t answer’, put to us either from individuals who are genuinely asking to others, who seek to try to catch the Christian out. This statement of ‘Christians can’t answer’ however, would be true of the young or in-experienced but not of the learned and experienced, who could venture a full answer to the question. So tonight, I’ll put forward a full and balanced answer to the question, it might not be a popular answer or fully understood by some however, it is an answer which mirrors the scriptures and, the reality of war.
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This challenge comes from an event in the Old Testament when God gave his orders to Joshua, the new leader of the Nation of Israel and it’s armies, to go forward and re-conquer their promised land after spending 40 years in the wilderness. This land of Canaan (Israel) had been given to them through their forefathers and at this appointed time, they were to re-take the land by force and the first major stronghold, was the City of Jericho. The Lord had specific orders as to how to attack and take the city including the timing of seven days, to which the walls of Jericho would fall upon the city and his orders were, to slay every man, woman and child as well as the livestock to literally wipe out the people.
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To us, in the in the modern-day western world, this kind of situation would be unimaginable however, at that time and in that age in mankind’s history, this particular mode of war was common, where nations would lay siege to other cities often for weeks or even months at a time and the result if conquered, would usually be either a safe passage for those who surrendered or a complete obliteration of the people including the men, women and children. This was to ensure that men would not rise up at a later date, that the women couldn’t reproduce the people and the child, so that there could be no chance of revenge in later years. It seems harsh however this was the reality of war and conquests in those times, some nation’s armies would not even give the option of surrender and safe passage however, God in his mercy, gave Jericho seven full days, which was more than enough time evacuate the city but instead, the leaders chose to stay.
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It could be said that the people in Jericho did a brave thing to stand up for their home however this would be inaccurate, due to the fact these people knew God, God’s people and the fact that Jericho and these lands belonged to Israel. Furthermore they knew just how powerful a foe they faced, with an almost certainty of defeat, yet they chose to ignore God and God’s will and remain where they were putting every man, woman and child in harm’s way. In this situation, God gave seven full days to Jericho to make the right decision, which laid the responsibly of the deaths of the citizens, squarely on the leadership of the city. 
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I hope it can be seen at this point as to just how much background knowledge and study of God’s Word required to arrive at these conclusions and that there’s always an answer when it comes to justifying the actions of a just God. War is terrible, it’s not pretty and it’s certainly not glamorous when nations feud and quarrel and most of the time, tough decisions have to be made to safeguard a nation’s survival. A modern-day example among many of tough decisions would have been the decision taken by Winston Churchill in WW2 when he destroyed the French Navy to which he gave warning, that if the French didn’t turn the vessels over to the war effort or scuttle the fleet before Hitler reached them, he would destroy the French Fleet, at a specific time rather than allow it to fall into the hands of Hitler.
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The French didn’t believe he would do this and they felt the ships would not fall into Hitler’s hands however Winston Churchill couldn’t take the chance and when the period expired and the with the warnings ignored the Royal Navy, which was the largest Navy in the World at that point, opened fire destroying the vessels killing many sailors in the process. The world was shocked at the action by the British, with the French maintaining that their battleships would not have fallen into Nazi hands however, France did fall and it was clear, that those battleships would have indeed fallen into Hitler’s hands, strengthening his Naval might and threatening the UK’s Naval power. Having given the French every warning possible, Winston Churchill had no other choice, knowing that if the French Fleet fell in the hands of Hitler, that the Nazi’s could indeed invade Britain and kill many of its citizens, a horrible choice for a world leader to make but the only choice and it’s these kinds of decisions which have been necessary throughout the history of mankind and even today.  
 
This serves as a good example of the position and responsibility of God’s decisions in the past and in this world today which in light of this illustration, are infinitely and unimaginably more serious to which no man could fathom or understand. In the case of Jericho, we can only touch on the reasons why yet, God could see the consequences of generations ahead, if he did not issue the orders he issued but we know, it must have been just and must have been the only course of action.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this short article tonight and I hope this answer has satisfied your thoughts on this subject….
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God bless
Pastor Steven Birnie
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About Pastor Steven

Steven Birnie is a former local Church Minister and the author of Christian publications which include non-fiction, fictional and teaching eBooks with audio sermons. From the north-east coast of Scotland, Pastor Steven is married to Sharon and together, they have two young children called Emily and David. After seven years of training, three years of overseeing youth and young adults and, three years of being the Assistant Pastor in his local Church, Pastor Steven moved on to focus on writing Christian Publications. In the future, he hopes to open a Christian Children’s Home in his home town and write The Tribulation Soldier, his newest Series of Fictional, Military EBooks on the End Times, the Rapture and the Tribulation Period, as a 2.5 Million Word Series. But despite continuing pastoral work and writing, Steven remains devoted to his children, enjoying his family life with caravan holidays in the Highlands, fishing, canoeing and his favourite pastime, riding his motorbike through the Scottish countryside.