Today's Reading: Numbers 31-32
Anger and war are two concepts with which I have trouble. Though I know God has every right to be angry, it is hard for me to read about an angry God wiping out a lot of people due to disobedience and possession of land.
It is also hard to read passages where, in war, every male is killed, and then every male child and every married woman is killed...wiped out.
I understand, at some level, the holiness of God and the issues of purity displayed by completely destroying an enemy. On a small level, I have done the same thing.
I have an herb garden. It is my joy and delight in the Spring and especially in the summer when I can walk out my kitchen door and snip fresh herbs. Fantastico!
But I have a pervasive weed in my herb garden. I've tried digging it out. I've tried pulling it out. This year, I've decided I will have to pull out all my perennial herbs, clean them down to the bare root, transplant them, and WIPE OUT that nasty weed. I will gladly pull out my Round Up despite my longing to have an organic herb bed. I've had it with the weed. It must go. I realize if I am not aggressive with it, I will spring up again and invade my dear plants.
I think this is how God feels about God's creation and God's people. There is this pervasive weed called sin. It is personalized as the enemies of Israel. This can be dangerous Bible reading which could fuel aggression and violence against people who are "different" than "us." But even though there is great historicity to this story, it is even more true theologically.
God cannot stand sin. God orders the people of Israel to wipe out all the "seed bearers" (the males), any future seed bearers (the sons) and any garden that might already be sown with seed (the wives.)
This story, like most of the stories in Leviticus and Numbers, must be heard as a purity and cleansing story, not as a story lifting up genocide. This story is not about war. It is about the holiness of God.
I know its hard to see it, for as while we read it, we cannot help but hear the violent and brutal cries of Cain murdering Abel, brother destroying brother.
LORD, help us...