Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.
That’s a pretty tough verse, isn’t it?
Married women. Widows. Little boys.
When I read that verse, I think of somebody like me. Or, somebody like my ten year old. It’s hard for me to put myself in a Midianite woman’s sandals and imagine the Israelites coming for my son. My son, who’s basically a good kid, and certainly hasn’t done anything worthy of an army coming after him to execute him.
Do you ever follow criminal trials in the news? With 24-hour news channels and courtroom TV channels, we’ve probably all watched for the verdicts of a few. Have you ever been surprised by a jury’s verdict or a judge’s sentence? Maybe you were certain the defendant was guilty, but the jury acquitted him. Or, you figured a life sentence was a sure thing but only a few years were handed down.
It’s easy to lambaste a judge or jury for making what we consider to be the wrong decision. But, think about it: that judge and jury sat through hours of testimony, legal arguments, instruction on the law, and presentation of evidence. They know much more about the case and all the players in it than we do. They know things we don’t know. And those things we’re ignorant about are likely the very things that led them to make a different decision than we, with our limited knowledge of the case, would have made.
What if your spouse, parent, or best friend had been a juror in one of those cases in which you were appalled at the verdict, and he had voted opposite the way you thought he should have? What if he told you, “Look, I’ve been told not to discuss the case, but, trust me, this was the right decision.”? Would you trust him?
It’s the same way with God.
We come to passages like this one, and our first reaction is righteous indignation. How could God make a decision like this? It seems so unjust. An arbitrary, capricious, and callous verdict. It’s easy to throw stones thousands of years later.
But, if God is God, He is, by definition, absolutely perfect in justice, perfect in love, perfect in mercy, perfect in patience, perfect in wisdom, and perfect in His knowledge of every detail of every situation on earth, ever, including people’s thoughts and intentions. He never makes a wrong decision. If He were lacking one iota in any of these areas, He would cease to be God, and there would be no reason to trust Him.
But He isn’t. So we can.
We generally trust human judges and juries to carry out justice in the cases they’re assigned, despite the fact that we know of cases of judges who have been bribed, juries that have been tampered with, defendants who have been framed, and jurors who vote guilty based on race, sex, status, or some other irrelevant condition.
But God doesn’t fall into any of those categories. He is the perfect Judge, able to mete out perfect justice, because He’s also the perfect eyewitness. He knew everything about the case of the Midianites because He saw each of them, and everything that was going on in the world around them, inside and out.
I can’t say that about my knowledge of this case. Can you?
God’s not discussing the case of the Midianites with us, but, “Trust Me,” He says, “This was the right decision.”
He’s got a pretty good track record of being right. I’m going to trust Him on this one since I don’t know all the details. How about you?
2 thoughts on “Shall Not the Judge of all the Earth Do What Is Just?*”
Two months in and no one ‘likes’ this. Are you surprised about that? I’m not. A deplorable defence (yes; I’m British; I can spell) of an equally deplorable verse. It beggars belief that you can write that and (presumably) look your children in the face. No wonder Richard Dawkins describes your God as ‘the most unpleasant character in all fiction’.
Given how God treated the Medianites, if I met God at a party, I’d first of all handcuff Him to a radiator and then pick up the phone to the War Crimes people in The Hague.
To borrow your own argument, evolutionary scientists know a lot more about evolution than you do, which is why all the respectable ones come to a different decision to you. Time you learnt something.