In Deuteronomy 2 and 3, Moses continues to recount Israelite history and how, with God’s blessing, they routed their enemies; when they were faithful, God gave them the victory, even over “giants” (Deuteronomy 2:11, Deuteronomy 2:20; Deuteronomy 3:13).
Of course, this brings up the difficult topic, which we must at least touch on, regarding the destruction of these people. Though the children of Israel would often speak peace first to a nation ( Deuteronomy 20.10-11), yet if the people didn’t accept that offer, sometimes the Israelites would go in and destroy them, including women and children. “And the LORD our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people. We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining” ( Deuteronomy 2.33-34, NKJV).
Some try to get around this simply by saying that these stories are not true. However, because we believe that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), that’s not a viable option for Seventh-day Adventists. Thus, we are left with the difficult question regarding these incidents.
Read Genesis 15:1-16. What did God say to Abram in Genesis 15:16, and how does it shed some light on this difficult topic?
There’s no question that many of these pagan nations were exceedingly brutal and cruel people who justifiably could have faced the wrath and punishment of God long before then. That’s true, and even if God waited patiently for them to change their ways, and they didn’t change — this still doesn’t alter the hard reality about the killing of everyone, including children. (Of course, probably many more children were killed in the Flood than were killed by the Israelites.)
The fact is that, for now, given the limited information we have about the full context of the events, we just need to accept this hard reality and trust in the goodness of God, which has been revealed in so many other ways. Faith isn’t just about loving God on a beautiful day in a pretty forest full of wonderful sights and sounds. It’s also about trusting in Him despite what we don’t fully understand.
|Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and John 14:9. How do these verses, and many others like them, help us learn to trust in the love, justice, and goodness of God, even when we see things that seem hard to square with this understanding of God?|