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Divine Devotion

Deuteronomy 3:3 & 6
“So the LORD our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we struck him down until he had no survivor left. … And we devoted them to destruction … men, women, and children.”

Ask the average person on the street with a moderate understanding of the Bible what Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom and the Passover in Egypt and the scorched-earth conquest of Canaan all have in common, and the answer you’ll get, whether spewed out in profanities or shrugged off ambivalently, is genocide. That’s the categorical term that serves as a sort of murky film over Scriptures like these that makes it difficult for even the most optimistic saint among us to see the radiant light of God’s love shining through it. Personally, as a father of two precious children, a father of one precious child our LORD called home in the womb, and the father of another on the way, my heart aches when I read accounts of little children being killed. But that’s partly because my sense of self-righteousness, often parading as compassion, is so far below God’s righteous character. My easily offendable perceptions need reminding that thegospel is the story of God lowering Himself to die in my stead, not the story of God lowering Himself to meet my standards.

Justice always lies at the heart of these stomach-churning instances in Scripture and that’s of fundamental importance. It never matters whether few or many sinners die, or whether they die by the sword or by plague, or whether they’re young or old, male or female, slave or free, because all of us are born into sin, meaning that all of us die by divine judgment in one form or another. God does not owe any man, woman, or child a single breath on His earth. Life isn’t a human right—it’s a gift; and it’s God’s to give or take away.

So, the next time an atheist says, “How can a loving God kill all those innocent people,” first remind him that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then take him to John’s Gospel and show him that our LORD is more devoted to our redemption than He is to our destruction!