Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

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Cruelty In The Bible?

Balak hires Balaam to unjustly curse Israel.
What is the appropriate punishment?

THE HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: In Numbers chapter 31, the Lord approves of these instructions that Moses gave to the Israelite soldiers about how to treat certain women and children captured in war: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

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This accusation of cruelty correctly quotes (except for a minor typo) Numbers 31:17-18.

The Problem:

To understand what was going on we need to go back to the plains of Moab and the history recorded in Numbers chapters 22 through 25.

Balak, the king of the Midianites, hires the evil prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Balak wants Israel destroyed. However, God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel. Instead, no matter how hard he tried, Balaam blessed Israel. This was not good for Balaam. He was to get a huge payment for cursing Israel, but now it appeared he would leave in disgrace and with no money.

Then Balaam came up with a way to curse Israel by getting them to bring God’s curse on themselves. Balaam told king Balak that the Midianites needed to seduce the people of Israel with pros-titutes and idolatry. This disobedience of God would result in Israel bringing a curse on themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornica-tion with Midianite women. This resulted in the death of 24,000 people. (Numbers 25:1-12)

The humanist statement makes it seem as though Numbers 31:17-18 are general instructions for war. That is a false representa-tion of what is happening. Here again they are misrepresenting what scripture says. These are not general instructions for war, but specific instructions for how Israel is to deal with the Midianites who se-duced them into sin. This misrepresentation of scripture makes this claim invalid.

Why were young men, and women who were not virgins, targeted? They were the ones specifically and directly responsible for corrupting Israel. This was justice, and it ensured the end of the threat from the Midianites, preventing them from seducing Israel again.


Conclusion: Once again, we see that God is not cruel. His response to Midianite sexual and spiritual seduction was limited, just, and appropriate.

Next example: Isaiah 13:9,15-18 contains this message from God: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger. . . . Every one that is found shall be thrust through. . . . Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes . . . and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them. . . . [T]hey shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not spare children.”

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good news of the cross

The gospel is not social justice nor serving others. The gospel is love in action... Jesus Christ giving Himself so that you can be saved from the wrath of God.

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8