Deuteronomy 3:6 We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city—men, women and children.
This isn’t a comfortable verse for modern Christians to read at all!When it talks about killing children, we want to look the other way. This is the sort of passage people point to when they accuse Christians of hypocrisy in their interpretation of the Bible. However, such accusations aren’t seeking truth, they are simply seeking to discredit the Bible. Such people are likely to support tearing children apart in the womb, which has been done in the US in recent years in numbers that make this incident totally pale in comparison. However, events today don’t justify automatically what was done back then. When we think about such things we tend to forget two things. One of those is the social/religious context of the day. Brutal doesn’t begin to describe it. Infants, after birth, were regularly sacrificed to their idols, and assorted other practices we would blanch at today were the order of the day. This was a highly degraded society. The other, and actually more important, point is the holiness of God. We tend to think of holiness in terms of white-robed choirs, but that is shallow in the extreme. It is holiness that dictates that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) When we don’t understand the holiness of God we also don’t understand the magnitude of His grace. These people were actively opposing the people of God, and God used His people to “pay them their wages,” so to speak. This doesn’t justify the people who have murdered abortion doctors. I would strongly doubt that they had direct orders from God. It does explain why Bonhoeffer was actively involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, but even there the question remains of how accurately he was hearing the Lord. We do need to remember that God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” (Romans 12:19, quoting Deuteronomy 32:35) What happened here was in the context of war, and was not personal.
I have never liked passages such as this myself, but seeing what is going on with the Islamic State makes me understand them better, I think. Right now they are trying to get Western, and specifically American, troops to oppose them on the ground, because of their interpretation of their “end time” scriptures. They see death in battle as a ticket to paradise, when they have no connection to the Creator of the universe. I do not know what God has planned in current detail, but I do know that the final outcome is already decided, and it is not at all what the Islamists imagine! I need to remember that the way the world works is not as we like to imagine either, but that God is still God and His plans are good, though they are far higher than anything we could come up with. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Father, the world is indeed beyond my comprehension. Thank You that I’m not in control! Help me walk in daily faithfulness and obedience, letting You be God and acting and speaking as You direct, so that I may be Your agent in all my interactions, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!