1 Samuel 15: 1-3 Samuel told Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people Israel. Now, listen to the words of the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord of Hosts says: ‘I witnessed[a] what the Amalekites did to the Israelites when they opposed them along the way as they were coming out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
Can you even imagine if this were to happen today? Facebook, Twitter, and every other form of social media would be blowing up! CNN, MSNBC, BBC, FOX they would be having a field day. “Israel says God told them to kill everyone in the enemy nation.”
Many in my “tribe” of faith Christians would check out, turn in their keys, AND their name badges. “God said to do what!?!” Imagine the protests, petitions, sanctions. “God would never say that!!” “This isn’t the message of the true God of the Bible!” – Wait . . . its not? Um. . . .
No matter how big your eraser is, like it or not, you cannot remove passages like this from Scripture. You can tear the pages out, but really? We can spin it, deny it, twist it, pre-date it, but at the end of the day, God actually did call a nation of people to destroy an entire nation of people, including “innocent” women and children.
The original grievance against the Amalekites was in Exodus 17, when the Amalekites came out in opposition to Israel. Israel defeated the Amalekites, but God promises to utterly destroy them at a later date. God saw the Amalekites as a nation of evil, and He knew that they would forever stand in opposition to a nation He had chosen to use in the process of revealing Him to the world. Fast forward to 1 Samuel 15, God commands Saul to destroy them. Saul doesn’t and the Amalekites continue to be enemies of God’s people and His plans. They withstood David and tried to take his people captive in 1 Samuel 30:1-2, and even later Haman an Amalekite descendant sought the complete annihilation of the Jewish people.
This wasn’t the first time God ordered His people to destroy a nation of people. In Deuteronomy 20:16-18 He tells them regarding the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites to completely destroy them all, to leave nothing behind. But why even the children? That’s a hard one. Its ugly, and no one likes ugly. Some have justified the killing of the infants and children in these nations with the assumption that they would have grown up in the evil that God so despised, so their deaths would have been more merciful as they would live eternally with Him, rather than ultimately be destroyed by their own evil on earth. Maybe.
My answer to the “why” is not as complicated, yet probably no more favorable to some, still true none the less – God is sovereign. He neither owe’s you nor me an explanation as to why He did, does or will do whatever He chooses.
Truth is, at our very core we don’t like that fact any more than we like the idea of killing innocent women and children. But like it or not, God is God – we aren’t.
As I read the news headlines of what is happening in the land of Israel today, I find it strangely reminiscent to Exodus 17. An army of evil seeks to destroy a people whom God has chosen to use in the process of revealing Him to the world. Are they perfect? Certainly not. Have they done bad things? You bet they have. But in His sovereignty God has chosen a nation, a land, a people to reveal His law, transcribe His holy text, and birth the Messiah into the world. For those reasons and so many more they are hated, protested and marked for destruction by many in the world.
Sadly, everyday we read of more casualties on both sides. Its ugly. No one likes ugly. Some would say God could be no where near this, He has nothing to do with this. He certainly would not favor the killing of “innocent” civilians, to which I would respond: