Amalekite Evil

I'm a part of a theology class that our senior pastor leads on Tuesday mornings for guys who are interested in seeing growth in their ability to think theologically. It is pretty fun to walk through theological concepts with these guys, and see how easily they connect to our every-day lives. 

Today, a part of the conversation was the "Problem of Evil." Why do the innocent suffer? Why does God allow evil to exist without judgment? And one of the arguments that comes up in that discussion is with regard to the fact that in the Old Testament, it sometimes seems as though God is complicit in evil. In 1 Samuel 15:3-4, God orders Saul to destroy the Amalekites, including "men, and women, children and infants..." 

Those are really hard passages. But in one sense, what God does in both of those passages is exactly what we wish He would do in others. The Canaanites were evil, evil people. They sacrificed their children (Deuteronomy 12:31), and were engaged in all kinds of nasty sexual acts with children and against other nations. And, they had been warned by God of coming judgment for hundreds of years prior to these incidents. 

In dealing with the Amalekites, God dealt with the problem of evil - at least in one location. 

Why the infants and children? We don't know precisely. But we have a couple of hints. If you remember the story, Saul was supposed to destroy everyone and every thing, but left many of them (He said he only left King Agag, but just a couple of decades later there were enough of them to overpower David and his armies (1 Samuel 30:1-2)). Just a couple of hundred years later, a descendant of Agag named Haman nearly succeeded in exterminating the entire Israelite nation. 

The death of those children would have been the ultimate act of grace - protecting them from the evil of their parents, and from the ability to grow up into people who would continue the parents' evil. Meanwhile, the plan would have completely eradicated a people group notorious for perpetrating evil against innocent people. A loving, just God did exactly what we would hope He would do. 

The destruction of the Amalekites is a tough passage, and we certainly don't have all the answers. But it is also evidence that God is absolutely serious about dealing with evil and providing grace to people who are in a right relationship with Him. 


chloeadele said...

i would have never thought of it that way. i struggle so much with passages like these, but i can definitely see where you are coming from.