This is a response I wrote to someone who questioned why God would order the killing of children, surely one of the most difficult objections we can deal with.
Below is my reply to the specific query as to why God would order the killing of Midianite children in Numbers 31.
I can appreciate people’s difficulty with this and it would be the no.1 objection to the bible your likely to hear.
We must however try to not instantly doubt God when we meet these difficult passages. But just like Jesus in Matthew 4 in confronting Satan we can confront our doubts/lack of understanding with God’s word as a whole.
Before looking at some important points, we must ask; Could God be doing something which is beyond my understanding? (e.g. he is outside of time and space) and does he have the right to take away life? Wether I like this fact or not, personally I would answer yes to both.
Helpful points to consider:
1) Destruction (generally) result of wickedness
People/nations/Midianites always destroyed because of wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4, 18:9-14).
“After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.”
The people’s sins were so grievous God could bear them no longer. Any action on God’s part was never arbitrary or due to a disposition of hatred towards his created people, on the contrary, the bible consistently states that he is favourably disposed towards all he has made (John 3:16). His judgement and subsequent action were always as a consequence to sin and wickedness.
2) God was long-suffering
God was long-suffering with man’s sin but acted when it reached it’s full measure.
“But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
3) Multiple chances to Repent
God always gave EVERYONE multiple opportunities to repent and spare themselves punishment (e.g. Nineveh). See below Jeremiah 18:7-8
These people were no different.
“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”
4) The innocent children
These “innocent” children were spared an even worse fate of being reared as slaves under the domination of sin or even falling victim to child sacrifice (under the god Molech).
Instead of having to endure the scourge of a life of immorality & wickedness, these innocents were ushered early into the bliss of paradise.
If the male children had been allowed to mature they most likely would have followed the pagan ways of their forefathers leading to a life of misery and pain.
Bizarrely you could argue that God showed them preferential treatment in taking their lives (hard for us to grasp I know!!).
I would acknowledge that the points above, especially those regarding the fate of children are hard to accept and understand, but this difficulty I would suggest, is only in proportion to our lack of faith.
If we believe in God, then we believe in heaven, we would therefore believe this will far outweigh any pain experienced in this life. Wether we like it or not when a child dies (who is innocent by definition), we believe they will go into the presence of the Lord and will avoid untold pain and suffering in this life, Paul describing this outcome as “better by far.”
God promises to give his children immeasurable joy and pleasure, enabling them to forget anything that has gone before.
Please let me know what you think by dropping a message below.
Thanks for reading