I wrote a letter to my local newspaper -- Bible Sends Frightening Messages -- and a few weeks later I received a letter (ground mail) from a person, who had to set me straight, on what the Bible really, means. I would love your responses, so I can send them to him, personally and then give him the web address to Exchristian. I’m hoping he has an email, but I suspect that maybe he does not. I think, perhaps, he is a Jehovah Witness and he might not have a computer – you don’t want JW’s exposed to information and he sent the letter to me personally. He could have submitted it to the Dispatch but it was never printed nor was it found in the web-only letters section, of the Editorial Opinion page.
Anyway, have at it and have fun.
This letter is in reference to the Sunday letter "Bible basics influence voting decisions," by John W. Hoberg. Although loving your neighbor as yourself is a commendable and virtuous ideal, the Bible itself is not unequivocal in the matter.
I can't help but wonder how your decision in voting would be influenced by 1 Samuel 15:3, which says: "The Lord says, 'Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don't have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies.' " If this is loving your neighbor, I wouldn't want to see what the Bible has to say about hating your neighbor.
Additionally, verses from Hosea and Psalms have to be reconciled, if the Bible is categorical in its message about loving your neighbor and if it is to be used to influence your decision in voting. Hosea 13:16 says: "Samaria will be punished for turning against me. It will be destroyed in war; children will be beaten against rocks, and pregnant women will be ripped open." And Psalms 137:9, "May the Lord bless everyone who beats your children against the rocks!"
Nothing like loving your neighbor by killing children and mothers in a barbaric act of violent torture. Can you believe this is in the Good Book? It is; read it for yourself.
The Bible is rife with warring nations, land squabbles and atrocities, which are the complete antithesis of "trying to understand people with whom we disagree and who have different interests." After Moses led the chosen people out of Egypt and wandered the desert for 40 years, did God have a nice, empty patch of land for the Israelites to settle on? No, God decided to give to the Israelites land that was already inhabited by other people.
How does God deal with these neighbors? Deuteronomy 20:16-17 says: "However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them -- the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites -- as the LORD your God has commanded you."
One only has to read the whole Bible for himself to understand that the majority of the Bible basics are gruesome, vile acts toward one's neighbor -- surely not to be used in making any moral decision, let alone voting decisions.
Scott, I was very interested in your editorial that appeared in the Dispatch 9/6/08. A lot of people reading the Bible would come to the same conclusion.
I would like to fill you in on some detail that hopefully, will not have you writing off God completely.
First of all, God – Jehovah, as creator of the earth and man, owns the earth. He is like a landlord with tenants. He has the right to pick his tenants. If the tenants don’t live up to their contract, he has the right to evict them. In the case of the Israelites and the Promised Land, those tenants were wicked people and did not deserve to inhabit his property. Consider a couple of examples:
The Amorites, and Canaanites ( Amorites was a term sometimes used for all the Canaanite tribes): Several hundred years before the destruction of Canaan Jehovah told Abraham: (Genesis 15:16) “But in the fourth generation they will return here, because the error of the Am’or ites has not yet come to completion.” So, Jehovah was watching what was going on in Canaan, took note of their error and set a time limit for them.
Here’s what the Canaanites were practicing on God’s land: They used a “sacred pole” in their worship. These “sacred poles” were evidently, phallic symbols and many of the rites at these places involved sexual excesses. There was a story in the Dispatch on page A2 on Sunday 9/7/08 about a town in Georgia that had been swindled by a man supposedly wanting to buy property from the town to open a family owned restaurant. As soon as the man got the property he opened a strip club- in a town within the Bible Belt. This is not what the owners had intended. God did not intend for the Canaanites to use the land like they did.
The Canaanites also practiced incest, sodomy, and bestiality. They also practiced spiritism and routinely offered up children as sacrifices in fire.
The Hittites & the other related countries were similar to the Canaanites in their practices. In fact they aligned themselves with the Canaanites against Israel, God’s chosen people. This is not what the landowner; God had intended his property to be used for.
You also mentioned the Amalekites and the command to kill everyone, including their women and children. What kind of people were the Amalekites? They were the first nation to launch an unprovoked attack on the Israelites after the Exodus. (Num. 24:20, Ex. 8:16) They seemed to have a particular hatred for God’s people, which is why God gave the command that you quoted. I will address the issue of killing the women and children later in this letter.
You also mentioned the scripture in Hosea 13:16 where it mentions “Samaria” and “pregnant women being ripped open and children beaten against rocks.” The context shows what is going on here. Samaria was the capitol of the 10 tribe kingdom of Israel. Samaria had fallen away from true worship and had done some very bad things. The prophesy was merely foretelling what was going to happen because of their errors. God could see into the future and knew that Assyria was going to do this. From history, we know that Assyria was ruthless with their enemies, especially after defeating another nation. God was not going to cause this. He was only telling his people what was going to happen to them because of their failures.
The writer here is in exile in Babylon and has probably witnessed many of the cruel things done by the Babylonians, including things done to their babies. This comment about the babies being beaten against the rocks was the writers thinking. It was based on emotion. The Bible reports on everything, even things that are negative. For example, it told of Peter denying the Christ. It told of the “sharp burst of anger” between Paul and Barnabus-both of which were being used by God in their imperfect state- and their eventual split up.
How does God feel about the cruel treatment of children?
Jeremiah 7:31 (New Living Translation) And they have built the high places of To’pheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hin’nom, in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart.
Deut. 12:31 (New Living Translation) You must not worship the lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.
2 Kings 17:17 (The message Bible) They even sank so low as to offer their own sons and daughters as sacrificial burnt offerings! They indulged in all the black arts of magic and sorcery. In short, they prostituted themselves to every kind of evil available to them. And God had had enough.
Ps. 106: 37, 38 (New Living Translation) They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder.
Isa. 57:5 (New Living Translation) You sacrificed your children down in the valleys among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
Ez. 16:20-21 (Contemporary English Bible) But you did something even worse than that—you sacrificed your own children to those idols! You slaughtered my children, so you could offer them as sacrifices.
Ez. 20:31 (Amplified Bible) And when you offer your gifts, when you make your sons pass through the fire, do you not debase and defile yourselves with all your idols to this day?
Another thing you have to realize is Satan was active during all of this. He was aware of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and others that the Messiah (Jesus) was to come from this line of descent. Satan knew that if he did not stop the progression, Jesus Christ would eventually cause his destruction. He was using the nations to carry out his purpose. After the coming of the Messiah, Jesus established the Christian congregation. The Jews were no longer God’s people. God was now using people from all nations as he had promised Abraham. No longer was God using any one nation. Those wars from the past that involved the nation of Israel were truly “holy wars”. That is not true of any wars being fought today on earth.
I understand you were just replying to another editorial on voting. But, what I saw was an article that was expressing a lot of negativity concerning the Bible itself.
The purpose of the Bible is to show how God will make the earth like it was originally for Adam and Eve- a paradise where we can live forever in peace and security- without all the atrocities that make this world the way it is. When you understand what God is really like, you begin to realize that God could never do many of the things he is accused of doing. Whatever injustices we are experiencing now will be taken care of in the future.