will, initially use the material from my assessment with a few additional
deals with some 10 subjects in that chapter and so I will take each
one as a separate section. The first one he covered, Noah, I have
already covered in the chapter on the flood, so I will not go over
that again. I therefore start with the second Biblical character he
speaks about. The Page numbers are the pages in The God Delusion
covered by the character.
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approach to Lot
is to recount the Biblical account making slightly edgy comments along
the way. It is not a harsh critique but he does, indirectly, object
to Biblical treatment of women, the judgment of Sodom
and the behaviour of Lot's
RECORDED: Lot is a good illustration of something of which
Richard and many others appear to be completely unaware, that what
we find in the Bible is often historical narrative of what happened,
and that the record includes men and women doing great and wonderful
things AND/OR terrible and stupid things. Merely because some historical
action is recorded in the Bible, that does not make it right.
We'll say some more about this later, but we simply need to observe
this as a principle for the present.
COMMENT: I think I would be more accepting of Richard's concern
for women if he had at the same time condemned the unrestrained desires
of the homosexual community. As it was a homosexual group outside
the door, I suggest that Lot's offer of his daughter was somewhat
ingenuous, although in the later example below that was clearly not
REALITY: I am glad we
live in the day we do. I am part of a church where women exercise
equal roles in leadership etc. and (to my knowledge at least) there
is no male-female conflict. The reason for that is that Jesus Christ
came to establish an equality of relationship while maintaining a
distinction of role. The imbalance of male-female equality etc. has
not been a religious thing but a cultural issue throughout
the world, flowing out of the tendency for the man to go
out and do the heavy manual labour and fight off marauders, and the
woman to bear children and raise the family. To pillory the religious
community for an individual following cultural norms – as alien as
they may appear to us three thousand years later – is naïve and
use this word ‘ingenuous' increasingly because the more I went through
this book, the more I feel that some of Richard's comments appear
in a spirit of frank, innocent comment, but actually have a snide
motivation behind them. For example, the part-sentence, “the
respect accorded to women in this intensely religious culture.”
Now I may have to apologise here because it may be
that he is simply genuinely ignorant but it seems otherwise he is
making a tongue-in-cheek point. Let's explain.
LIMITS OF GODLY RELATIONSHIPS: By
godly relationships, I simply mean relationships between men or women
and God. What is patently obvious to anyone who reads through the
first book of the Bible, is that Genesis 12 onwards is the history
of growing relationships between those we refer to today as the Patriarchs
(Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Joseph) and God.
there were pagan superstitious beliefs among other cultures is quite
clear but the only ‘religious' people – being those entering a relationship
with the One Creator God revealed in the Bible – were these Patriarchs
and their families, and it was a very embryonic level of relationship,
as we will later see.
is what makes these men even more incredible and, as we'll see, they
are very ordinary men getting into very
ordinary messes in life! To call this an ‘intensely religious
culture' shows total lack of understanding of ‘religious' development
of that time. An ‘intensely superstitious culture' might be a better
description, but the more an individual entered into a relationship
with God, the less superstitious he became.
story of Lot 's
family would probably stir most of us to agree with Richard's description
that this was truly a dysfunctional family – except that after the
horror of the destruction, its enormity might have left these girls
thinking they were the only people left on earth and felt this was
the only way to promulgate the earth's population. They were not directed
by God so this was purely a human thing.
Learn to distinguish between cultural practices and God-directed
practices, and between human-inspired activity and God-inspired
activity. Don't blame God for cultural, human-inspired activities.
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19 - 21
AGAIN: The story of
the unnamed Levite is thoroughly unpleasant from a number of angles
but perhaps not as mysterious as Richard would make out. Yes, it was
a day when there were still concubines and outside of the Middle
East today, most of us do not
feel comfortable with the idea of a ‘lesser wife', but culturally
that was what happened in those days – and it wasn't just ‘religious'
HISTORY: The period
of the judges is exactly what the title of the book says, a period
where the twelve tribes of Israel
occupying this Promised Land,
are ruled over by judges. Being in the early days of their relationship
as a nation with God, they were really very slow on the uptake and
didn't realise that every time they drifted away from God, despite
Him calling them back when they turned from Him, He would not
force Himself upon them but would leave them to their own devices.
(We considered this in some detail in Chapter 10). This was a time,
as we saw, when Israel
frequently drifted away from God and got it wrong.
in a very hostile age (isn't any in the history of the earth?), even
as now, nations fought over boundaries and rights and every time Israel
turned from God they found themselves weak, and were subsequently
defeated by those round about who wanted land.
Levites, part of the priestly tribe, would have been particularly
sensitive to the moral and spiritual climate. Thus when the culture
within one of the tribal areas allows flagrant and open and violent
sexuality that blatantly went contrary to God's laws, and resulted
in this man's concubine being gang-raped to death, on return to his
own home he cuts up her dead body and sends parts of it to all the
tribal elders throughout the land. Nothing more could have been designed
to grab their attention! I almost like Richard's comment, “Actually,
it is not quite as loopy as it sounds” because it was designed
to bring about an end which, yet again, Richard gets wrong. It wasn't
to provoke revenge, but to provoke justice and a re-establishing of
order within the nation.
again he gets it wrong in the way he says, “Judges
chapter 20 lovingly records, more than 60,000 men were
killed.” There's no sense of rejoicing over this. Indeed it's
quite to the contrary, for chapter 21 shows the anguish that there
was in the nation. The reason that so many had died was that the tribe
of Benjamin had not followed the Law and had not followed the correct
procedure for coming in confession and repentance before God. They
had instead banded together against the rest of the tribes and had
stood their ground over tolerating the awful behaviour that seemed
commonplace in their part of the land. in the war that followed, many
for Richard's closing remarks about similarity with the story of Lot,
where he wondered if it was from the same manuscript, he falls into
the trap that careless readers fall into, of failing to note the incredible
differences in the development of Israel.
case there was not a nation of Israel,
only one nomadic family working out its relationship with God; in
the Judges story there is a totally different social structure with
twelve tribes in existence, as a nation, and established in the land.
There is no social similarity whatsoever.
the primitive state of the nation of Israel
in the early books of the Bible,
the desire of the nation to hold to God's laws and to be a
nation that stood out for goodness in an otherwise bad world,
between God-directed activity and the activity of men trying
on their own to be righteous and sometimes falling short of
blame God for the failings of human beings.
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12,20 & 22
of Dawkins' chapter attacks Abraham for being the less-than-perfect
individual that he was. He attacks him for his failure with his wife
and in Gerar, and for his act of going to sacrifice Isaac.
OR ‘MORAL TEACHING':
Before we move on to consider Abraham's story we need to confront
the falsity of Richard's initial premise in this chapter. Early in
this section he asks, “What modern moralist
would wish to follow him?” If Richard, and others who might
think like this, knew anything about Biblical Interpretation, they
would know that one of the rules scholars use for interpreting the
Bible is, “Narratives only can be used to form doctrine if they are
confirmed by teaching.” In other words no one decides on morals by
simply observing behaviour within the
OF A GODLY RELATIONSHIP:
As we have already noted above, the Patriarchs, of whom Abram
was the first, were the first recorded in the Bible who were called
by God to work out lifetime relationships with Him. The purpose was
ultimately in order to bring about a godly nation, yet the reality
was that it was more by occasional interaction than any designed relationship
course given by God! They had no Scriptures to guide them, merely
the sense of God's presence that they felt and ‘heard'. As Abraham,
as he later became, was the first of these men, it was not surprising
that he struggled with his life and relationship with God. What is
amazing, about the account of his life, is that he starts out as a
nomadic pagan from Mesopotamia, and eventually becomes an incredible
man of faith who is both rich and consulted by kings.
BEHAVIOURAL FAILURE: Richard first focuses on Abram's response
to a famine shortly after he has arrived in Canaan, going down to
Egypt and denying his wife by saying she was his daughter.
said what we've said about behaviour not being ethical teaching to
be followed, and Abraham working out an embryonic faith with God,
we can look on his behaviour in respect of his wife in Egypt more
charitably than Richard does. In Genesis 12 Abraham is simply afraid
and takes the coward's way out.
it comes to the matter of God sending ‘serious diseases' (Richard
– ‘plagues') what is surprising is that God hadn't sent them before,
because it is quite probable that, as later occurred, they worshipped
gods and idols and so on, and could have incurred judgement way before.
As one theologian has commented, when it comes to the judgment of
God, what is surprising is not that He occasionally brings judgment,
but that He doesn't judge us all. To understand that comment you need
to understand the depth and significance within each of us of this
terrible thing the Bible calls Sin.
should also be noted here is that death did not come with these diseases;
they simply come in the second category of forms of judgment that
we considered in Chapter 11: “ Corrective
action in order to bring people
to their senses so that they will return to God, to a place where
they are able to live as He designed them to live, receiving all the
goodness He has planned for them, i.e. it stops a person following
the course they are following so that they follow a new path that
is not hurtful, harming or destructive.”
This was a good example of that working out exactly according to the
As to the matter of
Isaac being sacrificed by Abraham (Genesis 22) there are two points
to be observed. The first is that from God's perspective He never
wanted Abraham to kill Isaac but wanted to see how far Abraham would
be prepared to go in terms of obedience to Him. The second point to
be made, is that from Abraham's perspective we are told that he believed
that God had the power to bring Isaac back to life again (Heb 11:19).
we may from our perspective today consider his action horrific, yet
in his day what he was doing was what the pagan religions often did
(we'll see that shortly). As something to be imitated, a basis for
morality, as Richard keeps saying, there is no question that anywhere
else in history or in the Bible is there an indication that God ever
wants such a thing. How real the thing was to Isaac is uncertain and
so the question of trauma is equally uncertain.
No Christian will ever say that they get their morals
from all of Scripture. The standard rule of interpretation
is don't make rules out of observed behaviour.
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is a notorious story. Jephthah is a military commander of dubious
background, dragooned by the elders of Gilead
to be their leader to fight
for them against the Ammonites who were attacking them. He made a
vow to God saying if God would give him victory he would sacrifice
whatever came out of the door of his house on his return.
EXAMPLE OF GETTING IT WRONG: We
have already stated that you don't form morals by observing other
people's behaviour. That it was God's intent from the outset to overcome
the Ammonites is clear and the presence of the Holy Spirit coming
on Jephthah to give him courage is one thing, but the man clearly
does not understand the Lord and does not realise that you don't need
to do anything to get God on your side, especially when you are one
of His people. This was a stupid vow and had nothing to do with the
outcome of the battle. When his daughter came out of the house, if
he had known God and known His ways, he would know that the right
way to deal with sin is to offer an animal sacrifice – not a person!
If he had known the Lord he would have known that he could have gone
to the Lord to seek His forgiveness by saying, “I'm sorry I got it
NOT INTERVENING: It is a valid question to ask why God didn't
intervene. How does God intervene and why does He intervene? Already
in a previous chapter we have discussed the impossibility, in a world
of free will, of God intervening every time there is a wrong thought
or wrong word or wrong deed. Thus in the world many wrong people do
many wrong things and that includes harming others. We should understand
that God is not happy about that, as Scripture clearly testifies,
but that is different from expecting Him to step in and stop all wrong
actions. Sometimes we have to live with that for that is the cost
of free will in a Fallen World.
Understand that silly people do silly things, even
in the process, sometimes, of seeking to do right things. Understand
that because of free will we cannot expect God to step in and
forcibly stop people doing silly things – even though He may
speak clearly to them.
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ANGER: For a reason
that is not made clear Richard then jumps on to talk about idols.
The opening sentence in the part about God getting upset about idol
worship indicates both a lack of understanding of God and a lack of
understanding of life. His emotive language sneaks in again: “God's
monumental rage”. That sounds like an out-of-control emotion
that perhaps Richard has experienced, but it not the way God's righteous
anger works, as we have noted in previous chapters. Sometimes we need
to catch God's behaviour as well as the words.
wonder how you respond to your misbehaving children, particularly
when they are doing something that is dangerous and could harm them?
“Stop doing that please.” “I said stop doing that!” “Did you not hear
me? I said stop doing that!” “If you carry on doing that you will
be in big trouble, so stop doing it now!” Four times? Hmmm.
PATIENCE: Read through Jeremiah sometime and list the number
of times God called to Israel, its leaders and the people of Jerusalem
– far more than four times! The apostle Peter marvelled over the Lord's
patience and ended up writing, “He
is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to
come to repentance .” (2 Pet 3:9). This is a very different
picture from the one Richard paints!
PURE JEALOUSY: Richard
speaks of God's jealousy saying it “resembles
nothing so much as sexual jealousy of the worst kind.” What?
This obviously comes from only reading the Bible to pick out bits
to criticize! If we read his Old Testament (in a modern version!)
carefully and intelligently, we would see that God's jealousy is born
out of what is referred to in the Bible as a covenant relationship.
This we have seen a number of times in earlier chapters.
all that required Israel to
do was keep the design-laws that God had given them and acknowledge
the Lord as their one God, and He would bless them and ensure great
provision for them so that peace, harmony and prosperity would be
the primary characteristics that you might use to describe them.
climax of this was seen in the reign of God's first king, David, and
then in his son, Solomon. During those years, peace harmony and affluence
were known by every one in the nation. Now this was supposed to be
God's role-model for the rest of the world. There was nothing negative
about it whatsoever. In fact it probably made the idol-worshipping
surrounding nations pig-sick!
jealousy that God had for Israel
a protective one that knew if they turned to the habits of the surrounding
nations they would end up in the same mess as those nations. THAT
is the point of the frequent injunctions against veering towards idol
GENERALLY: There is a right jealousy, a good jealousy. It
is the emotion that fights to save a covenant relationship, a marriage.
It is the emotion that fights to protect children from drugs or whatever
else might harm them. Modern couples, it seems, rarely fight for their
marriages. We've lost the belief that jealousy is a good thing in
a right context.
Perhaps we need to study the life and behaviour of nations that
worshipped idols to understand the pure superstition and horror
and fear that so often goes with idolatry.
In the paragraphs
following (p.276-277) there is
a denunciation of Moses at Mount Sinai but as we have already covered
that in a previous chapter we will not cover it again here.
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no linking thought is given Richard takes us on to talk about God's
instructions to destroy Midian. It may be the link was Moses.
CASE OF MIDIAN:
In a day of apparently ‘civilised war' where the media is
able to spotlight exactly what is happening, we have remarkably short
memories – of indiscriminate bombing of Dresden and wholesale devastation
by nuclear holocaust. Our logic in both the cases cited was that it
was necessary to avoid a much greater evil, but in both cases all
men, women and children were wiped out – and we justified it, and
would, no doubt, do it again in the future if the circumstances were
sufficiently bad. For instance, suppose an eco-terrorist, wanting
to attack the USA released bubonic plague (or worse) on Hawaii . I
suspect that the rest of the world would quickly agree that for the
safety of the whole world the entire population of Hawaii should be
burnt by bombing to utterly destroy that plague escaping and wiping
out most of the rest of the world.
CRUCIAL ISSUE: What is missing from Richard's understanding
is the enormity of what was going on. God has separated out this nation
and is teaching them to live in relationship with Him, with all the
tremendous benefits that the Old Testament (when read completely)
shows us, so that they be an example to the rest of the word, as we
saw in chapter 9.
most crucial point, that Richard and other critics completely miss,
is that the success of this experiment relied upon this people living
in relationship with God, following His leading and His design-rules
or laws. The threat to that was the counterfeit religions that prevailed
in the surrounding nations which threatened to lead astray the people
of Israel and threaten their very existence.
history of the early church shows, similarly, a major attack on it
was through heresy, seeking to lead believers into all sorts of wrong
beliefs and then, subsequently, wrong behaviours. It has been a battle
that has continued right down to the present time.
ISRAEL: A more careful and wider reading of the book
of Numbers, would reveal the account of how the king of Midian had
sided with the king of Moab and hired a seer to specifically
curse Israel . His objective was specifically to destroy
Israel and, failing by this means, took the counsel of the
seer and sent his women to seduce the men of Israel
and lead them away from God to their own idol worship. Again, and
the importance of this cannot be overstated, the very existence of
Israel was under threat. The undermining that took place created a
very real threat to Israel and the only way to ensure that Midian
did not keep on coming back to attack or undermine them was to fight
them and completely obliterate them.
our own recent history enables us to have a holier-than-thou view
of what took place three thousand years ago in what I described earlier
as a very primitive society, now fighting for its very existence.
I'm not willing to be such a hypocrite. It is clear from accounts
in Numbers that it was a case of wipe out or be wiped out by this
neighbour who felt threatened by Israel. (Not a lot changes!)
We need to come to an intelligent understanding of how crucial
it was that Israel
not get seduced and overrun by an enemy nation and be led into
foreign pagan worship.
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it is a continuation of this same theme that Richard then moves into
deriding “the extraordinarily draconian
view taken of flirting with rival gods.”
RELIGIONS: Hopefully something of what has been said above
will shed some light on the ongoing negative descriptions of what
took place. Perhaps the descriptions of God's “characteristic
fury” and “God's maniacal jealousy”
say more about his own feelings of authority, rather than
accurately portraying what happened here. There may also be a measure
of ignorance about what was involved. To talk about ‘false religions'
may invoke the wrath of the author who would wish to do away with
all religions, but it is necessary to consider this in the life of
THREAT OF BAAL:
When the Israelites entered Canaan they found that every piece of
land had its own deity, its ‘owner'. The Hebrew word
ba'al means ‘master' or
‘possessor' or ‘owner'. There were, therefore, many Baals in the land.
However two of these Baals became prominent, Baal, the son of El (son
of God), who was revered as the god with power over rain, wind, clouds,
and therefore over fertility, and Ashtoreth, a goddess thought to
be the consort of Baal, who supposedly brought fertility to the people
who worshipped her.
SUPERSTITION: One has only got to look at the world today,
and see the areas of the world where people worship shrines with idols
or, in our own country, people who are influenced by ‘following the
stars', to see that people are incredibly susceptible to superstitious
nonsense. As a pastor I know that many people are bound by superstitious
fear and my role is to free them from that fear by facing the truth
about themselves and about what the Bible genuinely teaches about
God. I simply wish Richard could see these. I would also like
to hear if the enlightening ‘truth' of atheism also brings such wholeness
and life transformation as is seen when the Gospel of Jesus Christ
READING: Of course one of the aspects hardly touched
upon here, apart from the superstitious fear that was there, was the
frequent tendency to occult practices involving occult prostitution
and child sacrifice, and it was against these things that Israel
was constantly warring, but of course those haven't been mentioned
in the book. It is only a selective reading that can possibly portray
Moses as a violent warrior. A more careful reading finds a man who
was described as ‘the meekest man in the world'. Yes, he led Israel
out of Egypt, and yes, he led them through the wilderness and
against pagan kings, but no way was this man as portrayed in that
Don't pretend that these pagan idol-worshipping religions are
healthy and good and that many of their adherents aren't full
of fearful superstition, and don't be selective in your reading
of the Bible.
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Joshua and Ethnic Cleansing p.280-281
have already touched on Israel 's invasion of Canaan in great detail
but there are some aspects of the complaint we did not cover, leaving
them to emerge here. We repeat first of all what we stated previously
in the opening part of those chapters, just in case you jumped them.
CLEANSING?: A full reading of the earlier part of the Old
Testament reveals that there were in fact THREE options for the inhabitants
of this land:
They could leave the land peaceably – it is quite clear from the way
Israel came up from the south and the way that they approached the
kings of the south, that death was not high on their agenda. Who wants
to risk death if there is a peaceful way through?
They could join Israel – this is clear from the story of the Gibeonites.
As we've noted before, that wasn't a bad deal and in fact would have
given them a much more stable and secure life than they had previously
experienced under superstitious paganism.
They could resist and fight and either win or lose. Some lost and
some won and stayed in the land despite the Lord's instructions to
Israel . In fact when they failed to clear them out, the Lord
said He would allow them to stay to act as a constant provocation
to Israel (to encourage them to constantly rely on Him!)
of these options is anything like the ethnic cleansing we have heard
about in recent decades around the world. Claiming a land for God,
yes! Ethnic cleansing, no!
WOMEN AND CHILDREN?:
But there is one further aspect that is often spoken about but we
did not cover it earlier, and this is the matter of men, women and
children being included. Now when we realise the three options that
are given above, we see that there is a misunderstanding that is so
often so obviously in people's minds. The instruction is to completely
clear the land, yes, but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever
why women and children had to be included.
is very clear from the account of Jericho that we considered in an
earlier chapter, and accounts of the kings who tried to stop Israel
peacefully passing through their lands, that we didn't cover previously,
that all of the people infront of the oncoming tide that was Israel,
KNEW they were coming, KNEW that God was with them and KNEW that He
was giving them victory. Moreover it is clear that the fear of the
Lord fell on these people. So why did they stay their ground and more
specifically, why did they keep their woman and children with them?
gets even more incredible when you consider that the Israel men comprised
an army of over six hundred thousand – that's a might big army appearing
over the horizon or pouring down the hillside at you! It is especially
so when it is clear that the inhabitants of Canaan dwelt in little
tribal groupings that would have no way been able to withstand such
an army. (Some only did eventually remain because after the initial
thrust Israel started dividing up the army). So again, why did the
inhabitants stand their ground?
would suggest the answer lies in what, courtesy of Richard we have
just considered, the fact that every piece of land had its own deity,
its ‘owner', its ba'al. It is
virtually certain that the occult influence in the land was much greater
than most of us realise and that the fear of the Baal turned out to
be greater than the fear of Israel. This was a land of immense spiritual
sensible thing to have done, if the Canaanite men were going to stay,
would be to have sent their women and children on as trek outside
the land until the outcome was determined, yet the occultic forces
at work kept them there.
did Israel have to kill them? Well they could have chased them out
of the land if they would have gone, but their presence clearly stated
that they were committed to the occultic Baal worship which they would
never give up. (Remember, they could have joined Israel if they had
wanted to join the Lord – the text is quite clear on that). So what
do you do when you are setting up a new land and nation with clear
guidelines as to how to return to the Designer's laws and you have
a large bunch of people who are steadfastly refusing to be part of
that. Today we might export them to another land (perhaps???) but
this was a primitive time of warfare. We think we know better than
God's wisdom, that He was wrong when He declared that this was the
only alternative, and yet modern world politics leave us wondering.
We need to seriously think about the reality of life in Canaan
and also about the possibilities open to the occupants before
we make judgmental comments about what happened.
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The Death Penalty p.281-283
might be more comfortable to avoid this subject but it is another
area of query that arises and was specifically raised by Richard.
LIFE: I have already referred to this briefly in earlier
chapters. As to the list of things for which the death penalty was
required, Richard's scathing comments are more an indication of the
laxity of moral life in the West today than of the awfulness of life
in Israel three thousand years ago.
is instructive is that a number of Westerners in recent years have
turned to Islam simply because they have observed a law-keeping in
some Arab nations that comes out of Islamic law which, by Western
standards, is usually considered very harsh. While never wishing to
be under such strict and harsh laws, I can, nevertheless, see the
order and lack of crime in those nations almost seems refreshing in
the face of the increasing lawlessness of Western nations.
liberal thinking in the West decries capital punishment and so our
prisons become fuller as the days go by. Increasing numbers of people
feel unhappy about our present stance but recognise, unhappily, that
with a breakdown of moral standards in society as a whole, it is increasingly
difficult to obtain safe verdicts. We are caught between two bad things.
Israel, with all of the checks and balances built into the Law, the
laws were certainly there in respect of the death penalty but it is
unlikely that, even as happens in more open Islamic nations, it was
more than rarely required. It was almost certainly, generally a more
harmonious and crime free society than anything we experience today
in the West.
We need to learn to see the death penalty as part of an overall
scheme of ethics which works as a fair deterrent when society
holds to those ethics generally.
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have used in this chapter, Richard Dawkins' chapter on the Old Testament
from The God Delusion, to provide a selection of otherwise random
events in the Old Testament that raise questions. We have thus briefly
considered the events in respect of Lot, the Levite, Abraham,
Jephthah, Idols, Midian,
Baal, Joshua and Ethnic Cleansing, the
we have done this I have unashamedly picked up on Richard Dawkins'
frequent failures to understand the text of the Bible, and have gone
on to suggest the following as lessons to be learned:
Learn to distinguish between
cultural practices and God-directed practices, and between
human-inspired activity and God-inspired activity. Don't blame
God for cultural, human-inspired activities.
recognise the primitive state
of the nation of Israel in the early books of the Bible,
recognise the desire of the
nation to hold to God's laws and to be a nation that stood
out for goodness in an otherwise bad world,
distinguish between God-directed
activity and the activity of men trying on their own to
be righteous and sometimes falling short of perfection!
not blame God for the failings
of human beings.
Not get their morals from all
of Scripture. The standard rule of interpretation is
don't make rules out of observed behaviour.
Understand that silly people
do silly things, even in the process, sometimes, of seeking
to do right things.
Understand that because of free
will we cannot expect God to step in and forcibly stop people
doing silly things – even though He may speak clearly to them.
We need to study the life and
behaviour of nations that worshipped idols to understand the
pure superstition and horror and fear that so often goes with
We need to come to an intelligent
understanding of how crucial it was that Israel did not get
seduced and overrun by an enemy nation and be led into foreign
Don't pretend that these pagan
idol-worshipping religions are healthy and good and that many
of their adherents aren't full of fearful superstition, and
don't be selective in your reading of the Bible.
We need to seriously think about
the reality of life in Canaan before Israel arrived, and also
about the possibilities open to the occupants before we make
judgmental comments about what happened.
We need to learn to see the
death penalty as part of an overall scheme of ethics which
works as a fair deterrent when society holds to those ethics