Skeptics and Atheists aside, most people can accept — even if they don’t like it — that God takes life. When it comes to our loved ones, it doesn’t matter how much time we had with them, we could have — should have — had more. But when it comes to life and death, some causes of death we seem to be more willing or able to accept. Disease, old age, sometimes even accidents. What is more difficult is when someone’s life is, in our opinion, cut short. We deem these deaths to be premature or perhaps senseless. In our grief we are convinced that it was too soon, that maybe God shouldn’t have allowed it to happen. As the Author of life and death, doesn’t God have the right to give and take life as He chooses?
Skeptics usually have a problem with the Old Testament accounts of God commanding the Israelites to destroy whole nationss because of their alleged depravity. It seems God is ordering the slaughter of innocents. Is every man, woman and child in those societies really so evil that the only remedy is to kill them all? One might be able to argue that the men were deserving of such wrath, but the women and children could too? To these people, it seems that God either kills or orders the killing of countless (innocent?) people. It gives them the impression that God just doesn’t like to play by His own rules.
Those who object to God’s commands to Israel to wipe out nations do so from a point of view that is not God’s — obviously. There is a tendency to bring God down to our perspective as if H were just one of us. We view the people of the destroyed nations as defendants in a court of law, and perhaps God is like a judge. They appear to be presumed innocent (until proven guilty to us). Skeptics implicitly argue that unless we see a proper justification for God ordering their death, God is not justified in taking lives. They don’t even consider as a possibility that there are undetected crimes for which those nations can be punished. However, there is no statute of limitations with God. We have a running tally that never expires, and our card can be pulled when ever God decides. So even when we aren’t made aware of the reason, or whether it is justified to our satisfaction, we shouldn’t be surprised that the judgement may look warrantless. We are simply not in a position to know the reason or justification.
Wait a minute. Didn’t God tell us not to kill? Doesn’t He have to live up to His commandment to us, you shall not kill? My biggest gripe on this issue is how skeptics love to use the King James Version of the Bible whenever possible, since it presents the most opportunities to pigeonhole the Christian into accepting a 17th century Old English rendering of the language. The commandment Thou shalt not kill has since been (rightly) rendered to you should not murder in most modern translations. The change is not self-serving or special pleading either. Simply review the definition and usage of the Hebrew word Ratsach.
But so what if God orders the destruction of innocents? Would it change anything if we really were innocent? What of the commandment, to us, not to murder (or kill)?
As noted above, the skeptic wrongly sees God in a position like that of an elected legislator — who are peers of those whom they legislate, ontologically speaking. However, God isn’t our peer because He is the Creator. Because of His position, he occupies an authority over us that no peer does. If someone builds machines which can perform certain tasks, they can be turned off or dismantled for any or no reason at all, can’t they? The machines couldn’t rightly protest that they were being turned off, or even if programmed to turn other machines off. They are not the builder’s equal, ontologically. Similarly, God’s command to not murder applies to us, not Him. We cannot take it into our own hands to murder one another. God, being the Maker, can turn us off at any time, in any manner He sees fit. The skeptic is refusing to acknowledge, recognize, and accept the position of the Creator and the authority and rightful privilege that position holds.
This directly speaks to the “genocides” God ordered in the Old Testament at the hand of Israel. If God can take life, it doesn’t matter the vehicle He chooses to use. The skeptic has to make too many unsubstantiated presumptions in order to deny that the order to wipe out a nation is morally justified. There must be a presumption of innocence, which will skewed if the skeptic sees God as one of us, and if people are judged by our moral standard and not God’s. There must also be a presumption of authoritative standing. The skeptic must also presume that God doesn’t have the moral right to do with His creation as He sees fit.
So whether God chooses to take life by disease, accident, or even by the hand of another person, He, as Creator, has the moral right to do so.