googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Is God Cruel?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is God Cruel?

It’s brought up all the time: "Look at the atrocities ordered by God in the Old Testament." One passage often cited is 1 Samuel 15:2-3, where God said to Saul (via Samuel):

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Wow! That sounds mean. Why did God have to order every man, woman, and even every infant child to be killed? He even killed the animals to boot! This is one example yet there are other passages like this. Critics will latch onto these passages as evidence of the cruelty of God. But is there any merit to their argument?

There are a few logical fallacies in arguments like this. First, even though God did these things, does that somehow prove the Bible isn’t true? Hardly. This is what is known as an “appeal to emotions” or the "argument of outrage." That is, God can’t be God because He’s so mean. Even if God were “cruel,” that’s not automatic proof that He’s not God.

But this does raise the issue of God’s character. Is God guilty of murder? Is God worthy of worship? The answers respectively are “no” and “yes.”

It started back in the Garden of Eden where God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God explained the consequences to Adam:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

You know the story – Adam did that which God commanded him not to do. When he did, he exchanged his immortal body for a body of flesh; he went from a body that would never die to a body that would die. We are the children of Adam and we have inherited his body of flesh.

According to the Bible, there is precisely one penalty for sin - death (Romans 6:23). All have sinned; all die (Romans 5:12). The mortality rate among people is exactly 100%. Some people die in their sleep; some people die at the point of a sword; some people die very old; some people die very young; but everybody dies!

God is the author of life and He decides when it ends. He is like the potter and it's His right to shape clay however He wants (Jeremiah 18:1-6). The Bible says it is appointed to man to die (Hebrews 9:27). We are not in a position to say to God, "This person's death is OK but this other death is murder!"

My grandfather died when he was 90 years old. My father died when he was 50 years old. I had a nephew that died at birth. Is that "fair"? Are we going to say that God "murdered" them? Is God not God because we think He's cruel?

We all have the same destiny - a grave. We all also have the same opportunity - salvation through His Son. When we stand before God in judgment (and we all will), I'm going to receive mercy because I have believed in His Son. Others are welcome to tell God you think He's a murderer and that He's being unfair.

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