Try to reconcile Numbers chapter 31 to God the benevolent

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Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 08:43 pm
Numbers Chapter 31?

I have great difficulty in rationalizing this chapter with a concept of a good loving God as depicted by the lord Jesus Christ. !

The bible states that God is the same, yesterday, tomorrow and forever. This does not seem to be the case if one analyses and compares the awful chapter 31 of the book on Numbers, in relation to the loving, forgiving God,


1) Verse: 2 the Lord said to Moses take vengeance on the Midianites.

In direct contrast, Jesus said, forgive those who hate you and despitefully use you. It is easy to love those that love you, but I say love those that hate you.

Vengeance is mine said the lord I will recompense. However, here God appears to go against his own word and commands Moses to take vengeance.


2) Verses: 3- 6 Make war and kill said the lord. This is a direct contradiction to Gods own commandment. Thou shalt not kill.

Jesus said if a man strikes you on the one cheek turn and offer him the other and not to violence.
3) Verses: 6-13 here the armies of Israel go out and destroy, spoil, burn and steal and plunder on Gods command. In addition, they slaughter all the adult males however; this is not sufficient bloodletting slaughter to please Moses or God as we read from verse 14.

In contrast, Jesus said he that lives by the sword would die by the sword. The soldiers apparently somewhat kinder and merciful than Moses spared the woman and children much to Mosses disappointment and anger


4) Verse: 14 Moses was wroth (angry) with the officers. Why? Because they had not slaughtered THE WHOLE LOT, WOMAN, CHILDREN, like they had done to the adult males. So what is sweet kind merciful Moses proposal? Verse: 15, He says now murder all the "little boys". In ABSOLUTE contrast Jesus said blessed are the little children for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

For goodness sake is this the same merciful loving God depicted by Jesus. No this horrific story does not end yet. Moses goes on saying." Kill all the woman" except those that have "not had sex with a man".

How on earth in those remote primitive days were the soldiers to know which woman was a virgin and which were not. There was definitely no gynecologist way back in 3000 B.C. WERE THERE? So to me they must on Moses command raped all the woman first and then murdered those who were not virgins. Why was it necessary to rape them all? Because a woman's age does not necessarily indicate whether a woman is a virgin or not.

5) Now if any learned rational bible scholar can tell me that this is the same father God that is the same yesterday tomorrow and forever, I am all eyes and ears waiting for a logical explanation. You know if one takes out the title God and Moses and replaces them with Hitler and Rudolf Hess, no one would question that it was the work of the evil Hitler regime. Would they?

Am I blaspheming or sacreligious?? I hope not help me if you can

6) Alan McDougall 13/7/2007
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 09:21 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Many different issues are involved here, but maybe the biggest one is that it seems many associate love with pacifism. What, then, does that mean with respect to justice?

What do you do when two people are in a brutal, violent fight? Is it "love" to do nothing or is it "love" to intervene (i.e., apply force)?

Next, many think scriptures such as what you quoted suggest an arbitrary judgement. If one believes God is who the Bible says He is, then why would his decisions be arbitrary? Understanding the history of each situation often reveals the command is not arbitrary at all.

If you don't believe in the God proclaimed by the Bible, it's not really worth quibbling over these things. They will always seem unjustifed.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 10:43 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Resha,

So you are saying that G-D being sovereign will do just what he wants to do without asking our permission or understanding, why he commands us to do that which he wants us to do.

Dont you think Moses might have got a little headstrong in this chapter and did his own thing ?
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 07:49 am
@Alan McDougall,
I think what needs to be remembered here is that Moses served the Law of God, but not the Grace of God. The Law doesn't quibble about who is worthy of death; everyone is, young or old doesn't matter. So the story of the slaughter of the Midianites reinforces the overall theme of the Bible; that serving the Law leads to death and destruction. Did Moses do a good thing by killing them? Perhaps not, but he did the right thing according to the Law and to God. Yes, the Law says, "Thou shalt not kill", but the Law also says that all are condemned to death anyway. (Of couse the apparent hypocrisy here reinforces that the Law is not, in and of itself, the way we should live.) So as far as God and the Law was concerned the Midianites deserved death, every last one of them.

Now, of course, this may all just be someone clever trying to cover up a terrible crime. As far as I'm concerned it was a crime, but a crime to Grace, not the Law. Which is why I serve Grace and not the Law.

Can someone serve the Law and still do good? Of course, Christ did. But only if one can do as Christ did, keep the whole Law. I know I am not capable of doing such a thing, so I forsake the Law just as the Law forsook me. This is no shame on my part; the Law decided I was fit only for death even before I was born. What, then, do I owe to the Law? I can only die once. So I accept Grace to the exclusion of all else, even the Law.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 11:20 am
@Alan McDougall,
Solace, I could quibble with you over a few minor details, but all in all that was an excellent reply, better than I could have done in many respects.

Alan McDougall wrote:
So you are saying that G-D being sovereign will do just what he wants to do without asking our permission or understanding, why he commands us to do that which he wants us to do.

Dont you think Moses might have got a little headstrong in this chapter and did his own thing ?


First of all, no, I don't think Moses "did his own thing". When he tried that in Numbers 20, God punished him. Second, why does God (who is perfect) need to ask our (imperfect) permission? That is very democratic of you - very American ... but we didn't elect God.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 11:22 am
@Alan McDougall,
Solace,

If God really told Moses to plunder, rape, and destroy we can only fear him.

God returns to his Hebrew Scripture nature in a horrifying was in the Book of Revelation
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 04:56 pm
@Alan McDougall,
If God considered me to be his enemy then I would have something to fear. Well, God did consider the Midianites to be his enemy and the enemy of his people. So God's enemies have plenty to fear.

Of course, if God didn't tell Moses to do those things then the matter is different. Personally, I don't think God told Moses anything, not in a literal sense. But whether or not God told Moses anything literal, the story that we read in Numbers remains the same. So it is making sense of that story that we attempt here.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 06:16 am
@Alan McDougall,
Solace,

Your view is fundamental. Jesus who was God incarnate, said "blessed are the little children of such is the kingdom of God". Not the little Christian but "all children?

In another verse Jesus (who is also the unchanging God) , says "It is better for one who hurts one on my little ones that he/she was never born". "It is better for them if a huge mill stone be placed over their heads and be thrown into the deepest ocean

But in Numbers 31 he says "KILL THE LITTLE ONES" reconcile that to me

God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow , based on Numbers 31 he does change and changes radically.

The Midianites were also Gods creation and handiwork and no less evil than the Hebrews.

God gave me a brain to think with not just sit on and swallow any nonsense. And where does it say we can not ask questions!!
 
Solace
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 08:26 am
@Alan McDougall,
I know I certainly didn't say not to ask questions. I think if I were the sort of person who didn't ask questions, or answer them, I wouldn't bother coming to an online philosophy forum. Which isn't to say that no such person comes here, only to say that I wouldn't come here if I were such a person.

Yes, my view is fundamental. The Old Testament is fundamental. If I am to understand anything that is written in the OT I might as well adopt the fundamental view while reading it. It is scripture that is written for, and from the point of view of, a select group of people who believed that they were chosen to be set apart and different from everyone else. That's a pretty fundamental attitude. So how can we expect anything written in the OT not to be fundamental? Sure, some of it is more fundamental than other parts, but since all of it was written for them, and, at the time at least, not for us, then all of it is, in that regard, fundamental, as in fundamental to the Hebrew people.

And whether we like to admit it or not, whether even we agree with it or not, the OT makes it rather clear that the Hebrew were God's chosen people. Which wasn't to say that even in those days someone else couldn't become one of God's people, but according to the scriptures and Hebrew law, in order to do so that person would also have to become Hebrew. I ain't making this stuff up; it's just the way it was. And I can only assume it was the way God intended it to be.

Until Christ that is. Christ changed all of that; or, at least, he changed the way that we, the non-Hebrew, look at all of that. Does this mean that God changed? No, but it does mean, obviously, that God loosened up the constraints of what made someone his chosen.

Should you question the harsh actions of those of the OT? Absolutely! Christ didn't die for you to live by their law, but by his grace.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 10:24 am
@Alan McDougall,
Jesus did not preach grace only Paul brought up that idea

And if you are correct then

"THE FEAR OF GOD IS THE BEGINNING OF WIDOM."

And 80.% of humanity are going to be tormented is burning sulfur day and night forever and ever. An infinite punishment for what is a finite transgression against God

Do you really believe this? Maybe I should change the title of this thread to God the Merciless .

And if you are a true fundamentalist, then you must believe only those born again will be saved from that hell. So based on that my first statistic of 80% is way off target, then 90 % of humanity will be destroyed by a God of love.

I am somewhat of a statistician and researched how many humans have ever lived, the answer is over 160 billion, how many of those were true born again Christians?

I have had a profound near death experience, and yes there is hells, but the deepest hell is reserved for the utterly depraved evil reprobates.

But God is hugely more merciful than fundamentalists give him credit for

Alan
 
xris
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 11:05 am
@Alan McDougall,
Do these discrepancies in the views of Christ and Moses never give you doubts about the book as a whole...If you had separated the old from the new and gave it to fresh eyes they would never have guessed it was the same god..I was a devout christian but i never considered the old testament as anything like Christs teachings nor like like the later teachings of Paul etc..Fire and brimstone, wrath and hell was not Jesus..I still maintain Jesus was and if an individual, a great teacher who brought a new message of love and salvation. I might not believe that he was the son of a god i dont believe in but i do admire him and his message.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 11:59 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan,

Don't confuse the messenger for the message. I'm not even Christian, let alone a fundamental one. You asked how the God of Numbers could be reconciled to the teachings of Chirst. I attempted to do so. If you don't agree with my view on it then that's very well. I never I said I know all the answers. All I attempt is a counter to there being no way to reconcile it.

For what it's worth, I don't believe that Heaven and Hell are literal. I do believe in the afterlife, but I don't believe that either Heaven or Hell affects that afterlife, at least, certainly no more than either concept affects this life. Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," not "The kingdom of Heaven is waiting for you after you die." As for Hell, there are plenty of people living in their own Hell as we speak. My point is both are metaphorical states of mind. Is that all they are? Perhaps not, but certainly they are at least that much.

Yes, you are right, Christ never taught us about Grace. But then, how could he? Before he died and was resurrected there was no Grace, at least not in the sense that we realize it as today. So what Christ taught us was how to live by the Law and to be Holy and righteous unto God by the Law.

So in essence, (and I'm sure that saying this will get me some criticism, but so be it,) what Christ taught us was something that only he could do. This is why I do not call myself Christian, because Christians attempt to live their lives by Christ's teachings, to do as he did, to live as he lived. (My apologies to all those who would say that I am generalizing Christians. But, let's face it, most if not all Christians claim to try to live by Christ's teachings.) But I know I cannot do these things, I cannot live by the Law. The Bible also says that if you break one law you break every law. Well, everyone breaks at least one, which means everyone breaks every law. Sorry but I won't live my life dedicated to a Law that I break constantly. That is not for me. If it is for you then I encourage you to keep the whole Law. And may God help you with it.

As for how many and which people are God's children I cannot answer you. God chooses who his children are, not me. Do I believe that everyone is God's child? No, sorry, but I don't. Do I believe that someone has to believe what I believe to be God's child? Absolutely not. My parentage does not rely on my beliefs. I could believe that I was born of a hippo from the planet Neptune, but that wouldn't change who my earthly father was. Nor would it change my Heavenly.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 12:54 pm
@Alan McDougall,
The stories of Job and of Abraham / Isaac are two examples that explain how God's benevolence in the Tanakh (what a Christian would call the Old Testament) is quite different than the more 'human' kind of benevolence in Jesus' tradition.

The Tanakh is the story of the relationship between God and man. The power of God, and God's expectations of man, are much more central in this work.

The theological treatment of this is sort of post facto. This is in part why the Old Testament is a DIFFERENT work of literature than the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible. The translations, interpretations, and context diverged 2000 years ago.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:52 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Solace,

Jesus was not religious, indeed he almost despised them saying you generation of hypocrite vipers, you are like the tombs of the prophets all bright and shiny on the outside but dead mans bones on the inside

It is Paul who started the religion called Christianity not Jesus. The true church is a mystical body reflected in the person of the Christ being
 
Solace
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:57 pm
@Alan McDougall,
I agree Alan... and I'm not sure what else I can say in reply.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 06:17 pm
@Solace,
Alan McDougall wrote:
Solace,

Jesus was not religious, indeed he almost despised them saying you generation of hypocrite vipers, you are like the tombs of the prophets all bright and shiny on the outside but dead mans bones on the inside


Except that Jesus was religious: he was called Rabbi by his followers, a religious title denoting spiritual teacher. He was critical of what the Jewish tradition had become, but this criticism of religion does not suggest that Jesus was not religious: I mean, the guy prayed to God and instructed others to pray to God. That's pretty religious.

Alan McDougall wrote:
It is Paul who started the religion called Christianity not Jesus. The true church is a mystical body reflected in the person of the Christ being


No, Jesus started the tradition which became Christianity. Paul, and a host of other evangelists, began the Church; Jesus began the reform movement that became a religion apart from Judaism. It's very much like Buddhism: the Buddha started the tradition, and only later did the Buddha's teaching become something apart from Hinduism.

Paul did not start the religion: he helped to bring the teachings of Christ to the Gentiles.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 05:50 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Historicaly jesus is not an inividual but a combination of myths and stories brought together by those who saw the essential message to be good.So much of the new testament stories are revamped pagan god myths..The virgin birth from a father god figure..the sacrifice, the ressurection,miracles all can be seen in roman gods such as mythras. The teacher Jesus may or may not have existed but his message of love and mercy certainly changed the world..We live in different times but the message still needs to be told.
 
Dichanthelium
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:40 am
@xris,
In the ancient Jewish notion, Yahweh was benevolent toward His people. Yahweh was vengeful and violent toward those whom Yahweh declared wicked. The people in those days, who accepted the book of Numbers as one of their holy books, probably didn't have a problem with that.

I don't think it's possible to reconcile a modern Christian concept of God's benevolence with portions of ancient Hebrew Scripture that run contrary to it.

The real problem is that some modern people who claim to be Christians use such material to justify their own warfare against the people they perceive to be wicked.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 01:11 pm
@Dichanthelium,
Dichanthelium wrote:
In the ancient Jewish notion, Yahweh was benevolent toward His people. Yahweh was vengeful and violent toward those whom Yahweh declared wicked. The people in those days, who accepted the book of Numbers as one of their holy books, probably didn't have a problem with that.

I don't think it's possible to reconcile a modern Christian concept of God's benevolence with portions of ancient Hebrew Scripture that run contrary to it.

The real problem is that some modern people who claim to be Christians use such material to justify their own warfare against the people they perceive to be wicked.
I can never come to understand a god for just the jews became so important through christ who virtually dismissed the old testament by his teachings..If Jesus had not been created would jehova be apart of our religious history or would we all be visiting our old holy wells and oak groves ? This trying to associate the old test. with the new is bizarre in the extreme.
 
Dichanthelium
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 01:37 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
I can never come to understand a god for just the jews became so important through christ who virtually dismissed the old testament by his teachings..If Jesus had not been created would jehova be apart of our religious history or would we all be visiting our old holy wells and oak groves ? This trying to associate the old test. with the new is bizarre in the extreme.


Well, Jesus was a Jew, of course, and I think it's clear that his teachings were primarily Jewish teachings. According to the accounts we have, he claimed to be fulfilling "the law" and he regularly quoted the OT, and treated it as holy scripture. He presents his teachings as the essence of true Judaism, in reaction against the corrupt form being practiced and taught by the "scribes and Pharisees."

In fact, one might well argue that Christianity, properly understood, is a sect within Judaism; Christianity, popularly practiced, is a heresy sprung from Judaism.

But to tie back to the theme, a lot of us both within Judaism and within Christianity, would say that the Yahweh of Numbers chap. 31 is not the object of our faith.
 
 

 
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