Sunday, October 08, 2006
"Christianity" -> Men Of Blood
God is unchanging, but he progressively reveals more and more of himself through the Bible. As time goes on, we start to realize that the early scriptures don't necessarily give us the whole picture of God. It is only in Jesus where we see YHWH as he truly is.
However, we can see progressive lines drawn in the Bible, where God reveals more and more of his nature and what he will and won't allow.
When David asked if he could build a temple for the LORD, the LORD answered:
1 Chronicles 22:8 (New International Version)
8 But this word of the LORD came to me: 'You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.
When you read the Old Testament, you need to read all of it, and all of it will give you insight. We can see from this verse that the blood that David shed kept David from doing what was his desire, to build a temple to the Lord.
David did many things to worship the LORD:
1. Wrote part of the Bible
2. Was a prophet
3. Was a musician to the LORD
Yet, with all of this, his trail of blood kept him from doing all that he could for the LORD.
Up to the time of Saul, violent acts of the Bible were recorded where whole cities or people groups were wiped out at the LORD's command. However, after David, a line was written in the scriptures. Men of blood were limited in what they could do.
We will never, as Christians, have the perfect answer for why the LORD commanded genocide for a time in the Bible, but we do know that it stopped once Israel was established under David. My own personal belief is that the LORD allowed the genocide, but he did not seek the genocide. For he could have simply removed whole peoples group by the wave of his hand.
Perhaps, all that was happening was the LORD allowing Tit for Tat behavior. Israel was not the only one with a genocide trait, and I believe that if we could travel back in time, we would find the Israelites as orders of magnitude better than the people of the land. We know that that others had this practice even beyond David and may well have been common practice at the time as the Mesha Stele (Moabite history) states:
And Kemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel." And I went in the night and fought against it from the daybreak until midday, and I took it and I killed the whole population: seven thousand male subjects and aliens, and female subjects, aliens, and servant girls. For I had put it to the ban for Ashtar Kemosh. And from there I took the vessels of Yahweh, and I presented them before the face of Kemosh.
Perhaps, if we know that all the people of that time practiced selective destruction of whole cities, it is a little more acceptable and understanding that the Israelites were of the culture of the land. What was horrible to us today was simply common at the time.
What is certain, in this early stage of the Bible, God allowed more wideness in allowable behavior, in the same way that he allowed multiple marriages, but by the time that we get to the new testament, we are told that this was not the plan of God from the beginning.
What is clear, by David's time, is that men of blood could not build the temple. I hope that all Christian's take comfort in this fact.
For additional apologetic thoughts on the genocides of the Old Testament, please look at Glenn Miller's Christian Think Tank, for example this article, this article, and this article.