by Clarence Lavender
Continued from last week…
However, there is more. Greene wisely observes that “we may not object to God’s doing immediately and personally what we do not object to His doing immediately, through providence. Now nothing is more certain than that providence is administered on the principle that individuals share in the life of the family and of the nation to which they belong; and that, consequently it is right that they should participate in its punishments as in its rewards. …Though many innocent persons could not but suffer, it was right because of the relation in which they stood to the guilty, that this should be the relation in which they stood to the guilty, that this should be so.”
We have seen this same principle work in our own generation. During World War II, the United States of America dropped two atomic bombs on the country of Japan. Many innocent persons, including women and children, were killed; our action was right because of the relation in which they stood to the guilty. Such is a distasteful truth, but that is the fact of the matter. Also, the purpose behind the bombing was to save lives that would have continued to be taken had the war continued. Thus, the overall action of America was to save lives. Some innocent persons died, but many more, in the long run, were saved from death. To illustrate how God was morally justified in His actions, we as human beings sometimes bring about suffering and even death of the innocent to save other lives. Note the following.
A husband is told his wife will die if an abortion is not performed immediately (due to tubular pregnancy). It is a question of her life or death! The purpose of the abortion is not to take the life of the child, but to save the life of the mother. Let me illustrate the point further. Two men, let’s call them Jim and Joe, are drowning in a body of water. A man passing by sees the desperation of both men, dives in, swims out, but he can only save one of them. He reaches and pulls Jim to safety. Who can fault him for not saving Joe?
A cancer patient must often be given radiation treatments by a qualified physician. The doctor knows that in destroying cancer cells that healthy cells will be destroyed as well. His purpose is not to kill good cells, but to kill bad ones; yet in trying to save the person from the spread of cancer, good is destroyed as well. Who faults the doctor for his practice?
Walter Kaiser makes this observation. “Every forecast or prophecy of doom, like any prophetic word about the future except those few promises connected with the Noachic, Abrahamic, Davidic, and new covenants (which were unconditional and dependent solely on God’s work of fulfillment), had a suppressed ‘unless’ attached to them. At what moment that nation turns from its evil way and repents, then at that time the Lord would relent and cease to bring the threatened harm.”
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it: If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them. (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
Thus Canaan had, as it were, a final forty-year countdown as they heard of the events in Egypt, at the crossing of the Red Sea and what happened to the kings who opposed Israel along the way. We know they were aware of such events, for Rahab confessed that these same events had terrorized her city of Jericho and that she, as a result, had placed her faith in the God of the Hebrews.
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt: and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
Thus God waited for the “cup of iniquity” to fill up, and fill up it did without any signs of change in spite of the marvelous signs given so that the nations, along with Pharaoh and the Egyptians, “might know that He was the Lord.”
The destruction of the Canaanites was based on the same principle by which the whole world was judged (except for eight persons) in the flood, and that by which the five cities of the plain (including Sodom and Gomorrah) and Pharaoh’s army were judged. Usually those who object to these events are those who deny compatibility of the doctrine of eternal destruction of the unrepentant wicked with the mercy and love of God.
God’s character and the acts He requires are fully consistent with everything that both Testaments would lead us to expect in our God. The problem usually centers in a deficiency in our view of things and our inability to properly define or grasp the whole of the subject.
“Will the judge of all the earth do right?”