Today's "Got Questions" message may be the most difficult topic in the series so far.
To start it off, Pastor Dave shared a question asked by a member of the congregation: "Why does God seem so different in the Old Testament? How can they (the "Gods" of the OT and NT) have the same character?"
A prime example was drawn from Deuteronomy 20:16-17, where God tells the Israelites this:
"In those towns that the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing. You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you." (Deut. 20:16-17 NLT)
In other words, God was commanding an act of genocide. This sort of thing has fueled the claims of skeptics throughout the centuries that God is a "moral monster." Is there any other way to think about it? Seems pretty cut and dried.
In cases like this it is important to keep the full context in mind: the context of the Scripture being quoted, and the historical context in which the verses were written.
As to the biblical context, the next verse reads: "This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God." (Deut. 20:18 NLT)
The historical context is confirmed by the prominent secular historians Siculus, Kelitarchus, and Plutarch: The people of that area were in the regular practice of sacrificing their children by fire to the pagan god Molech (a.k.a. Ba'al).
Actually, this practice has been widespread throughout the history of the world: the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayan; the Chinese; the Celts; even some Native American tribes; all practiced human sacrifice, often using children to placate their gods or their kings.
And it was the people of the biblical God who communicated his response: This is an abomination in my sight and it needs to stop. That is what the Bible records, and when understood in their full context, the commands of God take on a larger perspective.
To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.