Why All the Carnage of "Innocents" in the Old Testament?

January 16, 2003 (re-edited Oct. 16, 2006)

As a young man in a Southern California college-prep high school, where many of the graduates went on to UCLA and other highly rated schools, I heard many anti-Bible and anti-God arguments. These intellectual types came from elite families with high IQs. Intellectuals have a harder time with spiritual things because they are so focused on what the five senses can validate. These thinkers had strong arguments opposing faith in God. One of the strongest arguments went like this:

"The Bible and the God of the Bible cannot be valid because in the Old Testament you find God ordering the killing of innocent women and children in mass and then in the New Testament you have this non-violent Jesus coming along who says that God is love. That is illogical. The Bible is just a another religious myth."

Even to this day I still hear of unbelievers making this argument and I still see few believers who can explain this. Very few of the Lord's people have the answer to this very important question.

I too had no answer for years. All I could say to these thinkers was that God knew what HE was doing and that God makes no mistakes. That answer only made them chuckle the more at my ignorance. They were convinced that if there was a God HE would agree very closely with those opposed to capital punishment of any kind.

I was reading in the Old Testament book of Numbers how Moses was upset that Israel's army had returned from a battle with the Midianites and had only exterminated the Midianite men saving the women and children alive. He was upset and he ordered that they immediately kill any of the women that had been married. So they killed several thousand women on the spot! Then Moses allowed them to keep any left over alive. But after that confrontation they generally killed everything that moved, even animals at times when they took a city.

Before God gave me the answer to this problem I was so perplexed by it that I could not even think about it. I hated to read violent parts of the Old Testament because this problem would arise before me to bring doubt. I knew that God was right...but my little mind could not fathom why noncombatants and children were violently exterminated by the sword.

Then one day God revealed to me why it was. Once I understood, then God's purpose was so clear and so correct. I saw that God was greatly saddened by this awful necessity. HE takes no pleasure in the cruel deaths of anyone.

"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" [Ezekiel 33:11]

IF you want to know the reason why God commanded such exterminations, then read on.

The best way to explain this is to make a comparison. As a young boy I remember that cancer was the most feared of all diseases. Back in the 1950s cancer was very poorly understood and as a result fear levels were higher concerning it. When a person was diagnosed with cancer, in that era, it was usually a death sentence.

However, at times, cancer patients were saved if the doctors caught it soon enough and the tumor had not spread. The way they saved people in those days was to surgically open the person up and very, very carefully cut all the cancer out. If they were able to remove every cell of that cancer then the patient would live. But if they accidently left even one cell behind in the person's body, the person's life might last only a little longer. That one cell left within their body would replicate and kill them. And so surgeons were aggressive and would cut beyond the bad flesh taking good flesh out as well to make sure they removed all the cancer possible.

Later on doctors developed chemotherapy and radiation technologies. With these two techniques it became possible to successfully treat some cancer patients who were beyond surgery. Sometimes they could save a person without doing any surgery.

These facts about cancer will help you understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament Jesus, the Saviour, had not arrived. HE was just a future hope. The Jewish ceremonial sacrifices were not really able to remove evil. The blood of bulls, goats, sheep and lambs cannot truly wash sin away. Animal sacrifice was only a future-shadow of the death of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus' blood can truly cleanse away and purge sin because Jesus was God suffering in our place.

Sin is spiritual cancer. Sin kills. Sin spreads. Even little children who are innocent, if they are born into sinful and wicked families, will replicate the wickedness of their parents. There is a generational curse that can only be washed away by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Old Testament populations who had lived dedicated to evil for generations were hopelessly tainted with darkness and it was impossible for them to turn away from their evil lifestyle. It was impossible for them to keep from infecting others around them. God simply could not allow HIS chosen people to co-habit and intermarry with these tainted peoples. There was no hope for tainted people in Old Testament times, sad to say. Even a Jew, if they once fully chose darkness had to be eradicated from the nation. That is what happened to one Jewish soldier and his whole family when he violated the commandment and took profane pillage loot back to his tent from a battle.

The story of Noah and the Ark is God keeping one chosen family from being obliterated by the out of control evil of the time. This is why God had to bring the flood and eradicate a world of people because darkness was swallowing up his good creation long before Christ Jesus was even able to arrive on the scene to bring a solution for the problem of sin.

However, no sooner had God brought the flood and started out anew with Noah's family than only a few generations later God had to take action again to stop the spread of the cancer of darkness. God confused man's communication system because evil was about to take over as mankind came into dark-some agreement in building the Tower of Babel. By multiplying their language into many languages God was able to greatly slow down the progression of evil. With the multiplicity of various languages mankind found it harder and harder to massively come into cooperative agreement to do that which God did not desire. God was able to put sin into slow motion so the world could make it a few thousand years longer when Jesus Christ would arrive to begin the destruction of evil and the possibility of all races and all peoples and "whosoever" to be saved.

In the Old Testament there was no power of the blood of Jesus Christ. Sinful nations belonged "lock, stock and barrel" to Satan. They were Satan's property, Satan's tools and there was no way at that time that sinful nations could be cleansed of their sins. God did not want his people marrying non-Jews. He needed to keep HIS people separated from the wrong doings of other peoples. Both Jews and Gentiles are born as sinners, but God had anointed and chosen the Jewish people to transport salvation into the world. The Jewish people, even though they were sinners of a kind, had a hunger for God that Gentiles seldom had in that period. God wanted to nurture that hunger and not allow that hunger to be washed away by polluted Gentile culture. The powers of darkness realized that there was something special about the Jewish nation and so the powers of darkness have always sought to destroy or pollute the Jewish people.

The only way God could cleanse the Holy Land and keep HIS chosen people half way pure, so that there would even be a Jewish nation for Jesus to be born into, was to surgically remove all the cancer that came near the people of God.

Nations of the world have made a similar decision. Ever since September 11, 2001 when hijackers used passenger jets loaded with innocent people as missiles to kill thousands of people on the ground a change has occurred. The Governments of many nations have chosen that if this ever happens again they will scramble fighter jets and shoot down the passenger jets, killing the evil hijackers and innocent passengers, in order to spare thousands more from dying by the hand of the evil ones who have taken over the passenger planes. That is a terribly harsh and violent thing to decide. But that is the only solution when you are caught in that corner. In fact the passengers of one of the 9-11 airplanes made that decision and saved thousands by fighting the hijackers and crashing their plane in an unpopulated field.

The Old Testament period was a time of preparation by God. It was a time when evil was attempting to run God's plan off the road and destroy all of our chances to have eternal life. God had to do something to save many from dying. There are more people alive on planet Earth today than all the people of past times put together!! God was able to keep his plan for a Saviour on track by the sad, but harsh things that had to be done long ago.

But today we have Jesus Christ's redeeming work. Cleansing and saving for any and all is now possible to all who will believe. We can plead the blood of Jesus. We have greater power in prayer. We have spiritual tools that never existed in the Old Testament time. It is all because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection some 2,000 years ago.

Obviously the Puritans did not know the answer to this problem I'm writing about either! They insisted on following the Old Testament and executed anyone that they thought was a witch. Today we can pray and see changes made without the use of violence. The terribly violent death and torture of Jesus Christ and HIS resurrection have changed the ground rules for God's people. God does not ask HIS followers to cleanse the earth by shedding blood. The valuable blood of Jesus has instead been shed.

God was able to make peace and civility possible only through Jesus Christ. God's methodology is the best, even if we cannot grasp it. We need to trust HIM and not worry about how HE does HIS work. HE is more than wise. But HIS ways are beyond our understanding very often. God never loses anything. HE is going to raise all the wicked ones in a brand new healed body in which they will stand before HIS court and be sentenced to the Lake of Fire. God is so good that HE will give them back a new and healthy body so that they can stand in HIS court room with good health and no pain and with a clear mind hearing HIS verdict. The prophet Daniel tells us of this.

I'm deeply saddened by some intellectuals, because in all of their brilliance they are unable to grasp the fact that God's intelligence is so far beyond their intelligence that their thinking is less than the thoughts of an ant or even a germ in comparison to God's thinking. In all of their 170 IQ thinking they can miss the fact that God's IQ is so far beyond theirs that no number is large enough to even define HIS wisdom and knowledge. Sometimes mentally handicapped people seem to have a clearer understanding of God than some intellectuals.


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