The God Who Kills and Saves

I’ve been reading Joshua and was struggling a little with all of the mass killings – the wiping out of whole populations of cities with no mercy. I think such a thing goes right against the grain of the modern-western conscience (how “moral” and self-righteous we can be at times) and it can be a struggle to understand God commanding it.

But I came to see that God was acting no differently than He did at the time of the flood or with what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah. The only difference was in the method of dealing with the evil in the land. In one case He used water, in another He rained down fire; with the evil population of the Promised Land He used an army of men.

rahab-aIn each case He also saved a family: Noah from the flood, Lot from Sodom, and Rahab from Jericho. I wonder how much the latter reflects the state of the people of the Promised Land – that the one most “worthy” to be saved from the destruction of Jericho was a prostitute.



13 thoughts on “The God Who Kills and Saves

  1. Good point! And potentially in a number (beyond one) of ways. There are times when God points out to Israel that their penultimate examples of sinners (Sodom, etc.) don’t function as a contrast in their favor in the immediate circumstances. Jesus said similar things to the leaders in Judea at that time. So, the the archetype might have been really bad, but Israel is in need of a correcting or purifying prophet. Thus, all of Jericho might have been so bad that even someone nasty enough to be a prostitute was acceptable comparatively. Or…

    Consider the kind of story I saw on RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY yesterday. There are young women taken by trickery from Vietnam and smuggled into a system in China where they are offered that they can agree to marriage (to who knows what person or what kind of a person in terms of how they would be treated), or go work in a brothel (be a prostitute). In that situation, would you rather make what you might see as a life-long vow to someone willing to participate in such a racket and who you don’t know? One girl said she chose the brothel because it was closer to the border, and she could hope to escape and return to Vietnam.

  2. Certainly, one train of thought doesn’t preclude the other(s), and more implications.

  3. One of the most encouraging parts of scripture is found in Matthew 1,

    Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
    Obed the father of Jesse,
    and Jesse the father of King David

    Rahab, a gentile prostitute became the great Grandmother of King David and part of the direct ancestral line leading to Jesus.

  4. I have also wondered about PTSD and various other mental images and emotions that had to be dealt with as Israeli men were ordered and then carried out the destruction of “even their women.” I don’t know, but I hope God gave em grace to deal with all that.

    At the same time, life in general was much more brutal back then, maybe it didn’t effect them how it does us today in our civilized, non-bloody existence.

  5. Jeff, our western society mostly has little experience of death. In my 56 years I’ve only seen two dead bodies, and the closest person I’ve ‘lost” to death is my wife’s dad who died a few years ago.
    Death (even violent death) was much more familiar to people back then, as it is to many others around the world today.
    Maybe the blessed, relativley safe lives we currently lead makes it harder for us to handle what others go through as a regular part of their lives.

  6. Two things:

    Firstly – Rahab the prostitute is a beautiful example of no matter how “nasty” or filthy we are in sin, faith and obedience in the Lord can save us !!! She was no better — or worse — than those around her in Jericho, nor should we assume that she was a ‘victim’ and therefore pitied by the Lord, but she was simply a sinner who chose to believe and obey the Lord God Almighty! And He saved her because of her faith and obedience AND put her into the genealogy of the Christ!! What a glorious thing!!

    Secondly – the examples of God slaying many ‘gentiles’ … or disobedient Jews even … in the OT is our historical example showing that God hates sin and that God does not want sin to infect His chosen people.

    This is also a NT teaching, but because we are in a time period of Grace, and therefore God is not killing nor commanding Believers to kill the disobedient and/or sinners/gentiles/unbelievers, many Christians therefore think it is God’s will to chum around with sinners and/or disobedient Believers and allow them into our churches and even into our pulpits. This is not the case as seen in the OT passages that many people can’t stand to read because they don’t understand God’s hatred of sin and His desire for a holy people … and scripture after scripture in the NT reveals that God’s desire for a HOLY people has not changed.

    The Church has simply not had shepherds who have taught these Truths. 😦

    1 Corinthians 5
    9 – I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
    10 – I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
    11 – But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

  7. What I wrote regarding Rahab was to give a contrast between her situation and that of those saved in the other examples I gave of God’s judgement; both Noah and Lot are described as being “righteous”.
    Rahab was a clear sinner in a very sinful city – but was saved from the punishment given to that city because she protected Israel’s spies.

  8. I understand, Onesimus. I was firstly responding to Marleen’s comments about Rahab, as she seemingly was trying to figure out why it was Rahab that was saved …. at least, that is how I read Marleen’s comment(s). And my second point was simply a comment on how I see Christian’s misinterpreting the Word, and therefore the Character of God today. Most seem to think that God has somehow changed, especially those in the hyper-grace camp. They cannot seem to reconcile the character of God as revealed in the Old Testament with the character of God revealed in the New Testament.

    However, we know that Hebrews 13:8 teaches:
    Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever

  9. Yes, the idea that God changed somewhere between the OT and NT is an old false idea that seems to be gaining more acceptance.

    It’s one of the things that eventually helped me to see through the WOF teachings I was involved with. I couldn’t reconcile a lot of what I read in the OT with the picture of God they presented. At first I pushed aside those questions but eventually the contradictions became too much – caused me a lot of confusion and almost led to a total collapse of my faith.
    It was many years before things turned around and I realised that the contradictions were in the teaching and NOT in the biblical revelation of God.
    Recognising that God’s attitude to sin has never changed – that He’s no more tolerant of it today than He was in OT times has been a real “eye-opener”. It has changed my understanding of God and His relationship with mankind, and how salvation has been made into a quick, easy and permanent thing with little cost. A far different idea of salvation than the one revealed in scripture that requires people to count the cost and requires on-going faith in Jesus and obedience to Him rather than a one-off “sinner’s prayer”.

  10. Amen, Onesimus! (Where is your ‘thumbs up’ icon for your last comment? 😉 )

    I remember listening to a K.Copeland tape about 10 yrs back, and he said that he could ‘prove’ that the old testament saints had no revelation of satan and that they therefore were attributing death, tragedies and killing wrongly to God. I waited and waited to hear his ‘proof’ as I listened to the remainder of the tape series, but he never did give his scriptural proof and never even revisited his statement to give any explanation.

    And as I went through the Bible … from beginning to end, and reading each book from beginning to end to get the full meaning of each book in its context … after leaving the WoF camp, I saw how wrong Copeland and the other WoF people are, who believe that “God never kills”. It seems not one of them has ever read the Bible in its entirety.

    God will also come brandishing a sword at the end of this Age of Grace as well.

    Not that I revel in this thought or look forward to anyone dying, but I wish this warning would be heeded by many sinners and unbelieving-believers!

    I appreciate your statement:
    Recognising that God’s attitude to sin has never changed – that He’s no more tolerant of it today than He was in OT times has been a real “eye-opener”. It has changed my understanding of God and His relationship with mankind, and how salvation has been made into a quick, easy and permanent thing with little cost. A far different idea of salvation than the one revealed in scripture that requires people to count the cost and requires on-going faith in Jesus and obedience to Him rather than a one-off “sinner’s prayer”.

    I say Amen, because your statement lines up with Scripture!

    Proverbs 1:7
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction

    Hebrews 10
    26 – For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
    27 – but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
    28 – Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
    29 – How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

  11. Yeah, sure, who cares what really happens with real people. A rapist or pimp us no worse than the prostitites he rapes or pumps out by force. And all the rest that you derive as ignored truth of God follows as what I’m not seeing for seeing reality. Some peoe like to write off the real world. I will go ahead and connect a New Testsment story. I had thought the early interaction between myself and Tim was fairly clear, but it’s controversial because of Christian platitude. Speaking of God finding the same thing to be sin in the OT as the new, the dudes who took a woman in supposed adultery didn’t bring the man. Look it up.

  12. I’m not assuming that Rahab necessarily was a victim in any way (although it is highly likely in some capacity within a range including a culture of oppression of women) [and it might be helpful to notice the time/date of my second post even though it appears as after Onesimus’ first one in the comments here], but I-C-S-T-R is ready to assume Rahab absolutely cannot have been; it’s integral to a false “gospel” that no one does any worse than anyone else. This is not the Gospel. Now, no matter if she was better or not as bad, such wouldn’t have mattered in the long run anyway if she hadn’t helped the Israeli spies.

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