Slaughter at Jericho

Could the loving God of the New Testament order the complete destruction of the inhabitants of Jericho found in the Old Testament?

The massacre of the inhabitants who occupied the fortified city-outpost known as Jericho can raise many questions in the mind of the careful reader. The higher critic has claimed for many years there was a conflict between the Bible and current archaeological data and that the claimed historicity of the sacred text was merely exaggerated colorful myth. Some liberal thinkers have viewed the Jehovah of the Old Testament as a deity who required appeasement and blood sacrifice to satisfy his capricious lust, while the New Testament god, in their view, is all about love, acceptance, and toleration. Then, the atheist uses the Bible to “prove” to the Christian that the God of his Scripture is a warmonger and the murderer of innocent women and children, and even if He did exist, He would remain unworthy of the worship and adoration required to satisfy His huge ego.

Even many an ardent Bible believer has felt some uneasiness at the unashamed transparency of the sacred text. Along with this comes the struggle to reconcile the relationship between a good and benevolent God and the obvious presence of evil in the world, especially as it relates to the death of women and children.

Recall the youthful gusto with which many have sung the traditional American spiritual.

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,

Jericho, Jericho,

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,

And the walls come a tumbling down.

Of course, in Sunday school, as we marched around the chairs and pretended to blow the ram-horns, we were definitely on the side of the “good guys.” On the other hand, Jericho and its inhabitants were the villains who deserved to lose their city, though we didn’t know why. Only much later did we come to realize there was a sober side to this deadly dance, which gave new face and fresh meaning to our childish play.

Let us consider the text as it reads in the Authorized Version of the Bible.

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword (Joshua 6:21; KJV).

Try as we might, there is no way we can dodge the dilemma by laying the event at the feet of an overly zealous Joshua leading a nomadic army of marauding, misguided Israelites. Nor can we sweep it under the rug by allowing for some kind of modified divine permission or restraint, which might absolve God from any direct culpability. The fact remains; it was a carefully calculated act with a specific goal in mind. Jehovah ordered it (Deuteronomy 7:2), and Joshua did it (Joshua 6:21).

The qualifier in this saga seems to be what is referred to in Genesis 15:16 as the “iniquity of the Amorites.” The nations that occupied Canaan had become so hideously debauched, so degenerate in custom and practice, that the judgment of God became imminent. We are told in the Mosaic account that God is preparing to act and His long-suffering is about to end.

For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants (Leviticus 18:25; NASB).

In the larger context of the writings of Moses, the Amorites are viewed by Jehovah as representative of the whole of Palestine. Further, it was as if they had become so saturated with corruption that the very earth itself spit them out.

Recent textual discoveries in Ugarit confirm the Scripture record of centuries filled with idolatry, sodomy, bestiality, sorcery, and child sacrifice. Consequently, each generation had polluted the next with idolatry, perversion, and blood. We must not read Deuteronomy 18:9–12 with an emotionless indifference in the way that some would read yesterday’s news. Parents offered up their children to the god Molech by fire. Child sacrifice is more than an unfortunate, ancient tribal custom. It is a hideous, twisted ritual conducted by men who have reprobated themselves into beasts. Then again, the customs of Canaan are not really a quantum leap from ancient religious ritual to our current indulgence of “a woman’s right to choose,” are they?

The problem of Jericho is easily solved. God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible just as He is. His self-revelation to Moses (see Exodus 34:6–7) is very revealing:

And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth; keeping loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children . . . (ASV).

Can we not see that God’s disposition is showcased in His long-suffering, equity, mercy, and patience? He never acts in a knee-jerk, capricious manner. Yet at the same time, God reserves the right to be God, doing as He chooses when He wills and with universal authority over His creation. Even as he pleaded for God to spare the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham declared, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). So the answer to the problem lies bound up in the character of God as revealed in Scripture. Is there ever a time when divine genocide is justified? The answer must be yes, because the judge of the whole earth always does what is right. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that in time the long-suffering of God will transform itself into judgment if the warnings are not heeded.

A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy says it well:

Before the Christian church goes into eclipse anywhere, there must first be the corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.

Here are words from the Apostle Paul challenging us to think biblically about the nature and character of God. “Behold then the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22; ASV).


The Face of GOD


I have seen this image of god several times in my life. The thing is I am not sure if it was god… I really think it was some other entity. He looked very similar to the picture except he had a more Afro textured hair , not a particularly handsome face (very similar to the image above). At first I thought maybe that was how Jesus really looked since the bible says that so  (Isiah 53:2) and it didn’t bother me the least. What bothered me was the entity switched between loving and often times rude. When I told my pastor, he asked me to question the being and ask him if he was the son of the living GOD. That he had to stop bugging me if he wasn’t.

The next time he came to me, I did what my pastor told me; I questioned the spirit and asked it to leave me alone. Since then I have never seen it again.

I know what you are thinking… I must have been crazy or that I must have been hallucinating. The truth is, I could have been doing both (crazy & hallucinating).  What bugs me though is that, once he left, he has never since appeared to me… maybe I programmed my mind to think straight.

I happened to see this image on the net and it quickly brought back old memories. I just wanted to know if anyone else has seen this entity or have had a similar experience.

The Defeat of Evil

Continued from “The Offence of Evil

Karl Marx said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world . . . the point, however, is to change it.” The Bible might similarly tell us that theologians try to explain evil, while God’s plan is to destroy it. God will win. God will finally be just, and justified, in all his doings. And the justice and justification of God will ultimately involve the exposure and destruction of all that is evil.

This is the vital third perspective we must add to what we have said so far about evil and suffering. In “The Mystery of Evil” we saw that the Bible compels us to accept the mystery of suffering as something that is beyond our final understanding (and thankfully so). In “The Offence of Evil” we saw that the Bible allows us to protest and lament at the offence of suffering as something that seems inexplicably to contradict the goodness and purpose of God himself. But the Bible takes us further, much further, and calls us to rejoice at the prospect of the defeat and final destruction of evil. Evil will be eradicated from God’s creation. That is the hope and the promise of the Bible.

The whole Bible, indeed, can be read as the epic account of God’s plan and purpose to defeat evil and rid his whole creation of it forever. That, it can be argued, describes everything between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22. We cannot here retell or even summarize that great narrative, but we can unequivocally say that the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth stand at the centre of it. Here is the central and decisive moment of the victory of God over evil and the guarantee that it will ultimately be destroyed.

Let’s probe three ways in which the cross helps our understanding of the problem we are addressing here and provides God’s final answer to it.

The Defeat of Evil


Continued from What about evil and suffering

No matter how many times you read the bible, the Bible never gives us an explanation to the origins of evil. Evil is introduced to us through the snake. There is no explanation as to where it came from or what its motivation was to tempt and seduce man.  The bible compels us to accept the mystery of evil, but at the same time we are told to resist and reject evil.



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In practical terms, everybody has a problem with evil and suffering. All human beings experience the realities of life in this world, with its pain, cruelty, illness, violence, accidents, bereavement, torture, emotional and physical suffering, and death. These things are problems of just living in the world. They bombard us at every turn in daily life. We suffer the pain of experiencing some of them ourselves, and we suffer the pain of witnessing others suffer them, often far worse than our own. So, yes, suffering and evil are practical problems for everybody.

But in theoretical terms, evil and suffering constitute a uniquely Christian problem. Christians struggle mentally with the problem of evil in a way that others do not. I don’t mean that non-Christians do not suffer mentally or wrestle mentally with the terrible enigmas of suffering and evil. Of course they do. Some of the greatest human art, literature, and music have emerged out of that mental and emotional wrestling with the reality of suffering and evil. What I mean is that the existence of evil in itself is not quite the fearsomely contradictory challenge to other worldviews that it certainly is for the Christian worldview. When you think of what we Christians believe about God and the world, the existence of evil really is a problem.

How can we possibly explain it?

Why does it exist?

Where did it come from?

Evil is not a problem (theoretically) for polytheistic worldviews and religions (those that believe in the existence of many gods). The many gods are themselves a mixture of good and evil – in motives, relationships, and actions. So, since life in the human and physical world is closely bound up with what is going on in the world of the gods, evil and suffering are “normal”. That is, they are just what you would expect if you believe that the divine world itself has dimensions of evil. If the gods, or some of them, are like men behaving badly, why should the world of human behaviour be any different, if it is governed by such malevolent influences? Polytheism, indeed, can be understood as a plausible way of solving the problem of evil. You simply locate the origin of the problem in the world of the gods. Why does evil exist in the world? Because some of the gods are evil all the time and most of the gods are evil some of the time. What else can you expect to be the case also in the world they influence?

Evil is not a problem for monistic  (Monism is the view that attributes oneness or singleness (Greek:μόνος) to a concept (e.g., existence). Substance monism is the philosophical view that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance.)  worldviews and religions. Monism is the view that ultimately all reality is one and indivisible. Spiritual or transcendental monism, as found, for example, in some forms of Eastern religion, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, affirms that everything is part of the one utterly transcendent Being (Brahman), and that all the distinctions we see in the world – including the way we appear to be distinct individuals – are illusory. There is ultimately no difference between you and me, between me and “it”, between the seen and the unseen world, between physical or spiritual – all is one. There is no distinction (as there definitely is in the biblical worldview) between the creator and the created.

That too is purely an illusion or a myth to explain how things seem to be (for Hinduism does have such myths to satisfy lesser minds). The ultimate goal of enlightenment is to realize the utter oneness of everything, without differentiation. Eventually, this transcendent blending includes all moral distinctions too. In the great “beyond” there is no difference between good and evil. The idea that there is a difference between good and evil is in itself a persistent illusion that we have to overcome on the path to enlightenment. All is one. So again, there is no real ‘problem’ with evil. Evil is ultimately illusory, like everything else in the material world of our unenlightened state.

Materialistic monism also takes the view that there is only one reality – the physical, material reality of the universe. “Stuff is all there is”, as it has been summarized. The more common form of this is usually simply called atheism. There is no transcendent realm at all. Reality is nothing more than the sum total of the mass and energy of the universe, and for us as human beings, reality is nothing more than the end product of our long evolutionary history of gene mutation.

Evil is not a theoretical problem for the atheist. It is simply a dimension of the way the world is at its current state of evolution within the universe. It could not have been different, so why complain? Indeed, the reality of goodness is far more of a theoretical problem for atheism (i.e., much harder to explain). It is not at all easy or obvious to provide an explanation for altruism, goodness, love, and other unselfish human attitudes and actions in purely evolutionary terms.

But for Christians, evil really is a problem at every level.

This is because of our commitment to biblical theism. On the basis of what the Bible teaches – unequivocally and repeatedly – we Christians believe that there is one living God, the creator of the whole universe, who is personal, good, loving, omnipotent, and sovereign over all that happens.

Now once you are convinced of those great biblical truths about the living God, you cannot help but have a massive problem with the existence of evil. To put it the other way around, as many people do when they want to condemn and reject Christian belief, how can you believe in the existence of a God who is both loving and omnipotent in a world filled with evil and suffering? Are the two things not mutually incompatible and exclusive? The accusation against Christian belief at this point often takes the form of a well-worn dilemma: either God is omnipotent so he could prevent all evil and suffering, but since he obviously doesn’t, he cannot be loving; or, God is loving and longs to prevent all evil and suffering if only he could, but he can’t, in which case he cannot be omnipotent.

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Are we really impaled on one of the horns of this dilemma? Do we have to say: either God is all-powerful but doesn’t love us enough to deal with evil; or, God loves us but doesn’t have the power to deal with evil?

So we turn to our Bible.

Unquestionably, the Bible affirms that God is all-loving and all-powerful, and yet the Bible also describes the terrible reality of evil. What help does the Bible give us in holding these jarring contradictions together in our minds in such a way that, even if it does not give us an answer we can fully understand, it does give us a hope that we can fully trust?

Or to put it another way: Whereas we often ask “Why?” people in the Bible more often asked “How long?” Their tendency was not to demand that God give an explanation for the origin of evil but rather to plead with God to do something to bring about an end to evil. And that, we shall see, is exactly what God has promised to do.

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to be continued …. The Mystery of Evil