God tiptoes and dances upon a thread as thin as fishing line, flirting with being judged in two extreme manners. On one side you have him being a cruel and malicious deity that inflicts punishments onto unsuspecting and undeserving victims. The other side he could be looked upon as a humane and fair lord, who punishes only the deserving. Critics have read, reread, studied, and analyzed the Old Testament until they were blue in the face. Many have come up with the fact that God acts in contradictory ways.
He will rein terror against those who have disobeyed him in parts of Genesis, Ezekiel, Exodus and Job; nevertheless, he will display the forgiving and benevolent side in the same books of the Old Testament. Lord Acton once said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. ” God had absolute power over everything in the universe. Some critics say that he did abuse his power and step over the line to an unjust and inhumane Lord. God did sometimes punish those who did not deserve it, acting callously toward his own people in parts of the Old Testament.
In the Book of Genesis there are some things that God does that makes him unjust and unfair. God created everything and when he was done, “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. ” (Genesis, 1; 30) God made everything abundant for Adam and Even in the garden, except one thing. He instructed them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. In the tree God created a serpent that tempted Adam and Eve to try some fruit from the tree. They gave into the temptation from the serpent and tried some fruit. If God created everything that was good then why would he have created temptation that ultimately got Adam and Eve in trouble?
Moreover why would God have created a serpent that would go against his word and try to have Adam and Eve get into a dilemma? God acted unfairly to place a serpent and temptation into the garden if he knew would only lead to problems. Job was one of the most faithful and loyal servants to God in all of the land. Job habitually worshiped god and avoided evil in any way that he could. God was proud of him and of the way in which he lived. God then got into an argument with Satan about the only reason that he worships you so much is that he has everything.
Take everything away and he will disown you to your face was Satan’s argument. God then without hesitation put Job through some of the most painful and cruel treatment just to prove a point. He first had all of Job’s livestock either stolen or killed. Then he brutally wiped out his seven sons and three daughters. That wasn’t enough to prove his point; he then inflicted Job with severe boils all over his body. He made him suffer in numerous ways, God put Job through pain that no one could imagine.
All for the simple fact that he could turn to Satan and say, “Told ya so! Is that how God should act? Is it just for him to inflict such a cruel and undeserving punishment onto one of his most loyal servants, so he could out do Satan? He was abusing his power, acting as an unjust and unfair Lord. In the Book of Exodus, God reined down his fury onto the people of Egypt acting in a very sadistic way. The Lord wanted Moses to lead the Hebrews away from Egyptian control. Moses had to then convince the Egyptian Pharaoh to let the people go to worship God. But, the Lord said, “I will make him obstinate, however, so that he will not let the people go. Exodus, 4; 21) So God then sent Egypt ten horrific plagues that wiped out almost everything in the land. Some examples were that he sent locusts to destroy all the crops, he gave all the livestock pestilence so they died, he gave man and beast festering boils.
His tenth and final plague was the unkindest of the all. It was called death of the first born, “Every first-born in this land shall die, from the first-born of the Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the slave-girl at the handmill, as well as all the first-born of the animals. Exodus, 11; 5) God acted in such a dire way against the innocent people of Egypt. Why would he slaughter innocent children? It was his fault that he made the Pharaoh obstinate and wouldn’t let the Hebrews free. God inflicted punishment just because he wanted to flex his muscles and show off how powerful he really was. “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children,” said Martin Luther King Jr. God did punish people, but not brutally and inhumanely. There were parts in the Old Testament where people did disobey him, and were punished accordingly.
God sometimes didn’t even punish those who have sinned making him not only a just lord but also a kind one. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God did punish. The people he punished though did something of importance to merit reprimanding. God provided Adam and Eve with everything they could possibly imagine. The Garden of Eden was plentiful and abundant. The only instruction he gave them was “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledgethe moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die. Genesis, 2:16-17)
The Lord gave them instruction as clear as day; nevertheless, they ate from the tree. Instead of killing them immediately like he had previously stated he would do, he instead banished them from the garden for eternity. Going back on his original word he acted in a more lenient way. Cain and Abel was another story in the book of Genesis. Abel flourished in all that he did, but his brother, Cain, did not. Cain grew jealous and hostile of his Abel and one day took him into a field and slaughtered his brother.
The Lord seeing this punished Cain, and made him a wanderer for the remainder of his life. At this time God could have been looked at as letting Cain off the hook. If you compare his judgment of Cain to the Code of Hammurabi, Lord looks like he is letting Cain off easy. In the Code of Hammurabi Cain would have been killed no questions asked. Throughout parts of the book of Genesis the lord didn’t act in a vindictive and malicious way, he was just. The Book of Exodus offers some more proof that God wasn’t brutal leader. Moses the one who he had chosen to be his leader was a murderer.
Moses had recently, “slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ” (Exodus, 2:12) The Lord did punish Moses in any way possible, instead he chose him to be the leader of the Israelites. Again comparing this to the Code of Hammurabi, God would have look very merciful and kind. After doing this, the Lord turned to the Hebrews who were being brutally enslaved by the Egyptians. The Egyptians feared that the Hebrews were becoming “so numerous and powerful” (Exodus, 1:9) that they would overtake them, so they enslaved the Hebrews. The Hebrews were being poorly paid and being worked to the bone.
Seeing no way out the Hebrews turned their hopes to God. God answered their cries for help and sent plagues to the Egyptians. He sent a total of ten plagues to the Egyptians, which may seem excessive but the Egyptian Pharaoh was obstinate. After many of the plagues the Pharaoh would lie to Moses and tell them that he would let his people be freed. Finally after the tenth and final plague were the Hebrew people freed. God, then with the aid of Moses, lead the Hebrews from Egypt to Sinai. The Lord chose a path through the desert for the Hebrews.
When the Hebrews were in the desert they complained that they should have been left in slavery, that it was better than starving in the desert. God had just released them from many years in bondage and they still weren’t satisfied. Instead of punishing them for basically spitting in his face, he gave them what they asked for. If they needed bread he gave them bread, if they need water he provided it. The Lord was truly kind to the Hebrew people in numerous ways. He was generous, kind and very humane in aiding the Hebrews in their time of need.
Throughout the Old Testament people disobey, doubted, and disrespected the Lord. God could only take so much without inflicting punishment and justice onto those. The Lord did punish many people, but those who he did punish he had reasons for doing so. In some instances he acted kindly and very generous. God in many parts of the Old Testament proved that he was a kind fair ruler. Looking at God in a whole it is very difficult to draw the line. Is he a vindictive Lord who punishes those who are undeserving or is he a kind just deity that is generous and understanding?
There is not a right or a wrong answer. Studying the Old Testament there is ample amounts of proof for either side. It is very hard to label him permanently with being one over the other. All that is known is that belief in some deity is not transitory, and the deity that the people will continue to worship will most likely be the kind generous Lord who is understanding and compassionate. Universally people will worship the humane Lord because it gives them hope and a sense of goodness in their lives. It makes them feel important in an aspect, and that is something that everybody needs.