How does one reconcile ALL of the biblical instructions that I list below? Jesus judged and even cursed people, aiming most of them at the Pharisees (Gospel of Matthew) and at “the Jews” (Gospel of John) saying “ye know whose children ye are” [Satanʼs]). While Paul said, “may their knife slip” when speaking of “the circumcisers.” Paul also cursed certain people and declared them “anathema.” BUT Christians are also commanded to NOT judge anyone outside (or inside) the church (depending on the verse), and commanded to act “meekly” and “humbly” even in the face of curses from others and certain death:
2 Peter 2:21-23 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Numbers 12:3 Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.
2 Cor. 10:1 I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ— I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of menʼs hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
Matthew 5:5,7,9,44 Blessed are the meek… Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God… I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…
Psalm 34:14b …seek peace and pursue it.
Proverbs 17:5b, 24:17, 25:21 (New International Version) Whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he s tumbles, do not let your heart rejoice… If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT) “Live wisely among those who are not Christians and make the most of every opportunity. Let your converstation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.”
Colossians 3:8 &17 “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language…‘And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.’”
I Corinthians 5:12,13 “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’”
James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
James 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Apparently a lot is left up to individuals to determine for themselves how best to act. The famed Scottish Christian, Thomas Erskine, put it this way:
The most zealous defenders of the verbal inspiration of the Bible admit that there are parts of it of less importance than others. This is a great admission, because another is involved in it, namely that we ourselves must be judges of the comparative importance of these different parts.
Also compare the following verses:
Job 5:2 says, “For wrath kills the foolish man, and envy slays the silly one.” So “wrath” is connected with “the foolish man” yet compare:
Let me [Yahweh] alone that my wrath may wax hot against them.
- Exodus 32:10 (See also Numbers 16:46)
The Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.
- Psalm 21:9
God often angrily loses his temper:
That the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger.
- Deut. 13:17
He made Israel to sin to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities.
- 1 Kings 16:26 (See also: Ex. 32:10; Num. 11:1,16:46, 32:13-14; Judges 3:8, 2:20; 1 Kings 14:9,15:30, 16:2, 16:7, 16:13; 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Samuel 24:1; 2 Chron. 34:25; Psalm 18:7 & Jer. 44:6; Nahum 1:2)
Or take the story about Moses descending from a mountain holding Ten Commandments, one of which says, “Do not kill.” But Moses saw that some of the people had begun worshipping idols, and he says, “Kill every man your [idol worshipping] neighbor.” (Ex. 32:27)
So, depending on the circumstances, we have either “Love your neighbor” (Lev. 19:18 & the Gospels), or, “Kill every man your neighbor.” (Ex. 32:27)
And the same Moses who taught “Do not kill” also commanded the Israelites to “kill every [Midianite] male among the little ones?” (Num. 31:17)
And what about the use of the word “Blessed” to describe two very different sentiments in Matthew 5:9 and Psalm 137:9, respectively:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
“Blessed will be the one who dashes your little ones against the rock.”
Or take Psalm 34:14, “Seek peace, and pursue it;” and Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will toward men [at Jesus’s birth];” and Jesus’s teaching, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Mat. 5:9), and “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27a).
And compare them with, “Do you suppose that I [Jesus] came to grant peace on earth? I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mat. 10:34); or, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division… I have come to cast fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49,51)
Or compare Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful” with the following verses:
“Leave alive nothing that breathes… show them no mercy.” (Deut. 7:2)
“The Lord hardened their hearts… that they might receive no mercy.” (Joshua 11:20)
“I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them… A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed.” (Jer. 13:14; 48:10—NIV)
Or compare Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” with “Chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword.” (Lev. 26:7)
Or take these two verses that depict the joy of vengeance:
“The Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you” (Deut. 28:63)
“The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance, he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Ps. 58:10)
And compare such verses with: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles… If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink… He who rejoices at calamity shall not go unpunished.” (Prov. 17:5; 24:17 & 25:21)
In Deuteronomy 18:20 Yahweh unceremoniously sentences all followers of other gods to death. Hector Avalos in Fighting Words, adds that “nowhere in Mein Kampf is there anything as explicit as the policy of killing Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7 and 20 and 1 Samuel 15” (361).
For Christians, of course, the “Old Testament” has been superseded but note some of the lessons taught in the N.T. In Galatians 1:8 Paul curses any man or angel who dares to proclaim a contrary gospel, and in 2 Peter 2:1 “swift destruction” is prescribed for all false prophets and teachers. Indeed, according to Acts a husband and wife are struck dead immediately after lying to Peter about having given all they had to the church. And in 1 Cor. Paul states that God himself judges Christians by making “many ill, and some fallen asleep [dead]” because of the unsatisfactory way they had been celebrating the Lordʼs Supper.
To quote Robert Ingersoll: He says: “Honor thy father and mother,” and yet this God, in the person of Christ, offered honors, and glory, and happiness an hundred fold to any who would desert their father, and mother to follow for him. Thou shalt not kill, yet God killed the first-born of Egypt, and he commanded Joshua to kill all his enemies, not sparing old or young, man, woman or child, even an unborn child.
Lastly, itʼs ironic that in the book of Job God reserves his harshest judgment for Jobʼs friends who try to come up with a list of reasons why God was punishing poor old Job, i.e., who try to explain and justify suffering, who are apologists for Yahweh.Labels:Bible, ethics, inerrancy, judge not, morality
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