Why Would the God of the Old Testament Command the Hebrews To Conquer Their Neighbors and Kill Every Last Man, Woman and Child? How Could a Good God Ever Do Such a Thing?

Often, skeptics will claim there’s no need to worship the God of the Bible. After all, why believe in a God who is petty, vengeful and mean spirited? Indeed, many non-Christians object to Old Testament “atrocities” as barbaric and horrific. And they use this to prove Christians are morally stupid and should be ignored.

In their view, being a Christian is actually a step down from being a moral atheist. For a good God would never kill innocent babies. And since God actually commanded this, the Judeo-Christian God must be evil. (Assuming He exists at all.)

Indeed, before Jesus met me in the shower, this is exactly how I felt!  As a secular Jew, I was certain the harsh God of the Christians was morally inferior to even the lowest societal norms. I just knew that Man’s moral compass was light years ahead of anything “Christian.” To me, believing in the God of the Old Testament was an affront to my dignity. And an assault to my decency.

But is this really true? Is the God of the Old Testament morally inferior to our current beliefs of right and wrong?

This blog is for anyone who wants to know why God is good and worth knowing. If you’re a skeptic, or even a Christian with doubts, please read on. There’s no reason to be ashamed of our God. He’s actually more moral than we are. Not less. However, many of us have swallowed false ideas we never even think to question. So lets take a look at these.

Two Concepts That Shape Our View of God

1. Man is the Center of the Universe
2. God is the Center of the Universe

The Absurdity of a Man Centered Universe
Just how should God act toward us? And what makes God good or bad? This all depends on whether we live in a Man Centered or God Centered Universe.

If Man is the center of the universe, then our immediate wants and desires are paramount. If God exists at all, His main purpose is to serve us. God is our genie in the bottle. He’s here to help us achieve our goals, actualize our wants, and carry out our desires; all in a manner most pleasing to us.

We all agree that no one wants pain or suffering. No one wants hardship, sacrifice or death. So a God who in any way allows for this, is obviously evil. And above all, human life is sacred and most precious. True, we can kill for our country, we can kill to preserve peace and we can kill to promote law and order. We can even kill to protect our property. But God can’t and God shouldn’t. He has no right to kill for a good cause. Even if we do.

God’s chief aim is to serve Man. And if God sheds a drop of blood to carry out His plans, then God is a monster. God must always do it our way and through the means we most desire. And we will condemn Him for the slightest nick in our skin. If anything doesn’t go our way, God is surely to blame.

Why This Makes No Sense
So the God who made 10 billion galaxies is subject to the dust mite. The mighty emperor must answer for the well being of his slave’s toenails. Heaven help us if He ever decides to clip them!

Sadly many people, including some Christians, believe in a Man centered universe. God’s reason for being is simply to give them goodies and treats. He is their celestial cheerleader. Their friendly co-pilot. Their loyal life coach to help them get the right job, the right spouse and the right life. And if God doesn’t do these things, in a nice and pleasant way (no hardship or character building allowed mind you), He’s clearly uncaring or downright evil. This is why the prosperity gospel fails. It expects God to be subject to the slave’s toenails.

God Is The Center of the Universe
But if God is the center of the universe, then our immediate wants and desires are NOT paramount. God actually has His own designs, His own purpose, His own plans, and His own means of achieving these. So while God cares for Man, and allows Man to play a role in God’s plans, the tail never wags the dog. Man is not paramount. Man is not supreme, and often when Man acts out, it’s time to clip some toenails.

But God Killed Babies! You Can’t Possibly Justify That Can You? How Can God Be Loving and Do Such a Thing?
Imagine that you can see through time. Not just the beginning and the end but all stages in between. And all the ripples in the pond caused by each passing event. So there you are looking at baby Adolph Hitler in his cute little crib.

But to you he’s more than just a mere baby. As you look into his smiling cherubic face, you also see him leading hoards of Nazis into Poland. And then commanding millions of innocents to be gassed in concentration camps. So is the baby innocent? Maybe. But will you see this baby the same way others do? No. You won’t. You know the big picture that no one else can see.

Unlike the people around you, you know that this baby will cause a catastrophic domino effect of havoc and horror. You know the utter slaughter, the complete devastation, the loss of life and heart break surely to follow if this baby lives. So what would it look like to his mother and father, if right then and there you chose to kill him? Would you be able to explain yourself?

Now suppose instead of Hitler, you went back to medieval times during the bubonic plague. And you knew that a person visiting your town was the first to carry the plague that would decimate 25 million people throughout Europe? Could you justify killing this person? And what about if it were a baby? Clearly a human life has value. But the needs of the many often outweigh the needs of the few. This is why people demand mandatory vaccinations. This is why society justifies sending people out to war, even if it kills them.

The Double Standard of What’s OK for Man But Not for God
The examples above show the double standard we have with God. God is expected to let everyone live happily and in their own way, even if it destroys nations. But if God gives anyone the slightest pain, punishment or hardship, we reject Him as evil. Meanwhile, we condemn people to the painful death of the electric chair and say it’s a fair punishment.

We even allow for abortion, not just to keep the mom alive, but also because we value her free choice over the human life inside her. Almost everyone who believes in pro-choice admits that abortion is not good or fun or to be taken lightly. However, they insist that as bad as it is, women should always have the right to choose. But not so with God. We can take the lives of even our young ones. But God is not allowed to.

So If God Has the Moral Right And the Power, Why Does He Allow For Evil in the World?
One can argue that God should have stopped Hitler. Or that perhaps, God is unjust because He should have prevented the bubonic plague. But again, this is based on man’s notion that God is only good if he makes Man as comfortable as possible. It’s totally about meeting Man’s short term goals. (Those things that Man with his limited intelligence and foresight, assume are in his own best interest.) It doesn’t factor in that there may be an eternity to consider. Or that the “little” “harmless” things we do in life can have deadly eternal consequences.

It doesn’t factor in that God may value our free will. Perhaps even more than our comfort! Let’s take the abortion example. Our law respects a woman’s right to choose. It doesn’t matter how she got pregnant or why she wants to terminate the life inside of her. It could even be for revenge against her boyfriend who jilted her. But the law allows her to do it. Wrong or right. But why? Shouldn’t the reason matter? The answer may be that the reason does matter. However, the overarching principle is the woman should be able to make this choice, even if it’s a bad one.

Likewise, God respects Man’s right to choose. And sometimes God allows us to live with some very unpleasant choices of our own making. At other times He bails us out. But unless we’re God Himself, we have no idea how often He protected the weak, stopped disease and averts disaster. Or even the reasons why He may have allowed the “bad” things to happen. But we judge Him anyway don’t we?

So Why Did God Actually Command This Wholesale Destruction of the People in Ancient Israel?
God sees things we don’t see. This includes the radioactive fall out of bad choices which can affect generations to come. The Bible refers to this fallout as sin. If you had a cancer growing inside your body, would you expect the doctor to save the cancer and let you die? Of course not. The body is greater than its parts. The cancer must die so the body can live.

Just like the surgeon who has a plan for the body, God has a plan for all mankind. And while He values the lives of individuals, He will not let the tail wag the dog. If there is a spiritual cancer, or a danger to God’s plan, He will carry it out His way, in His timing, through His means.

God sees the consequence of every action, even if we don’t. And like the Great Physician He is, He is willing to take drastic action to save Mankind. Even if Mankind doesn’t know it needs saving.

In the case of the ancient Hebrews, God had a specific plan. This plan was to rescue millions of slaves and bring them into a relationship with Him. A plan so they could physically and spiritually prosper. God knew this meant they had to follow Him wholeheartedly and not mingle with their neighbors who did everything from idol worship to child sacrifice. This was a critical time in history. It was the beginning of the Jewish nation. God was redeeming His chosen people.

And God knew that like a cancer, or plague carrier, these neighborhood lands would infect His chosen people with their ideas and practices. So God had these people destroyed. Was it harsh? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. Was it for the benefit of mankind? Yes.

God does not currently call us to kill as He did in those ancient times. But this is His decision to make. And it is never done lightly.

God is not cruel when He makes harsh decisions. He just sees more than we do. It’s absurd to expect God to do things as if He were our personal genie. And just perhaps, He has allowed hardship and suffering for reasons that are for our own good. There is also free will. And it’s something the law values, and so does God. We give Man the moral right to kill. But we have a double standard for God. (Even though God knows far more what’s best for us.)

But don’t take my word that God is good. Ask Him yourself! Jesus says to ask seek and knock. And that those who seek Him will find Him. Please don’t let faulty thinking keep you from asking. Humbly call out to Jesus by name. And ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a way you can understand.  This is what I did in 1994. And He answered me!

Other Blogs

Why Good People Go To Hell (For Non Christians)
Explains sin and why we need forgiveness and atonement apart from our good works.

Does God Send Good People To Hell? Are Christians Just Mean Spirited?
Who is God? Are we really good? Should God just accept us as we are?

Jesus In The Shower
Why a secular Jew now believes in Jesus.

Other Christian-SOS Blogs



    1. Hi Kevin,

      Happy to address any honest questions. I’m not sure if your question was from the Atheism discussion board. I got a lot of hateful responses there, which were totally separate from a true discourse. (I admit reading accusations like “You are a murderer!”felt like being kicked upside the head) But if you’re honestly asking, I will do my best to respond. Just re-post here if you like.

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