But I really need your brotherly help this time…
This week, I’m going to debate a [person who does not accept Jesus as the Son but does believe other sacred texts which I do not believe are true]. I have seen [friends like him] pick the violent verses of the Old Testament (and Moses), and ‘lustful’ parts from it, mainly from the chapter Songs.
I can readily answer any question raised from the NT, even some from the OT. But..I have a huge problem with the things I mentioned above.
How can one understand the ‘violence and lust’ mentioned in the Old testament? I don’t want to look like a fool in front of him, and my desire is to try my best to bring him to Christianity.
God did tell the Jews to remove specific groups of people from the Land he gave to them. He made it clear that it was His land, and they were to not have anything to do with the people who were already there — the Amorites, Phillistines, Amalekites, etc. He made it clear that they were judicially executing them for His own reasons, but we can think of a few reasons why God would give these orders:
1. God gave the land to Abraham and his seed of promise, Isaac.
2. These people were “polluting” the land itself with their idolatry, their sexual sins, their diseases and their own vicious ways.
3. If the Jews left the people there, in the nature of things they would have ended up (and indeed did to a large degree) copying their religion and their sexual sins, and pick up their diseases of body and soul.
4. God wanted to teach lessons that would create a vivid picture of his determination to have purity and His righteous standards in force in human society in the future.
5. God wanted to create a record of battles, conflicts, and both victories and defeats that would serve as spiritual lessons or “types” to the true spiritual people of God who he planned would come along later.
6. God wanted to forge the Jews into a tight nation, very tribal and very genetically separate, who would be able to survive for the 2000 years that God knew they would be scattered among mystic Babylon, before it was time to regather them again onto their own land. The promises of their resurrection as a people are now being fulfilled. Though even many “Christians” hate the Jews and can’t forgive them for their mistakes as a nation, God does not see it that way. He loves them and has already begun to restore them.
7. God also loved even the enemies of the Jews, and knew that since all people are born dying — as good as dead — they really are learning lessons too … and will be resurrected and restored in Christ’s kingdom. There are specific promises of land for the Arabs, the children of Lot (Moabites) … even the Egyptians and Assyrians in the future. All will be restored, including the enemies of Israel and their kindred tribes, Sodom and Gomorrah. (see Ezekiel 16)
By contrast, the other religions you are dealing with do not provide an everlasting hope of peace and brotherhood among those who it considers enemies. Those sacred writings seem suspect to many who have looked for authentication, because the “original” manuscripts are lost, and the “messages” came through one man whose story is questionable when put to a variety of reasonable tests.
The Bible is verifiable in every detail, and has been supported by the fossil record of the order of creation, and thousands of archeological findings.
As far as the lust part, the Bible is very clear about the limits and guidelines for human love. To the extent that the Song of Songs is a picture of human marriage, it is a vivid description of the kind of love that rightfully and purely exists between a man and his wife…. and in the song their love is not consummated yet because the marriage has not occurred.
But the Song of Songs is much deeper than that. It is also a spiritual account of the love that exists between the King of Kings and his chosen wife, a “black but comely” woman who he sought and claimed as his bride, in spite of her lack of royal bloodlines. It is a picture of Christ and the Church, and it describes the stages of her transformation by God’s grace.
It also discusses her “little sister who has no breasts” – a picture of what Psalms 45:14 refers to as “the virgins her companions who follow her” — the less developed, less fruitful category of Christians who grow up with those Christians who are most faithful and desirable to the Heavenly bridegroom. (no denominational connections here — it’s an individual character-evaluation only God can make). Compare this to Jesus’ story of two groups of virgins — pure and loyal followers — who are distinguished by fruitage in their lives — some wise, some foolish; some with oil of light in their cups, some caught in the nighttime without it. Matt. 25:1-13 Or compare it to the salvation promised to both those who build their lives with “gold, silver and precious stones” and those whose life is merely “wood, hay and stubble” — 1 Cor. 3. Both groups are saved by God’s grace, but one group gains a reward, and the other experiences trouble which humbles and purifies them in the end.
In the Song a question is raised about the Shunamite’s little sister, and the answer is given: (paraphrasing) “She will be examined to see if she is a door or a wall” — a sexually active (spiritually speaking) person or a virgin (spiritually speaking) — that is, faithful in mind and heart or having sold out to the world system and its various idolatries, as many scriptures in both the old and new testaments describe. If she is a door (no longer a virgin), she is boxed in with cedar planks — a coffin — emblematic of eternal death. If she is a wall, and has not lost her spiritual virginity, she is used to build a palace of silver . Silver is the metal used to describe the class of people mentioned in Revelation 7 and other places as a secondary group of saved Christians. Primary group, in the throne and joint heirs with Christ; secondary group, serving in front of the throne. Gold is used to describe the purest, most faithful group of saved Christians. (see Psalm 45:13ff)
See Song of Solomon 8:9
I might suggest asking the person who gives credit to different “sacred texts” where his God promises life for all men (Isaiah 25:8); or restoration for even the enemies of his people (Isaiah 19:23-25)
God has promised through all his holy prophets to restore everything, including the earth, life, and fellowship with God for all people: Acts 3:19-21
This of course harmonizes with the character of God as taught to us by Jesus: he loves his enemies, and his anger toward them is but for a moment, but his mercy endures forever. Psalm 100:5
The question is, does the anger of other traditions’ God only last for a moment? Does his mercy toward all last forever?
Once again, the way I see it, God is happy because he has a plan in place that will restore everyone, including his enemies, and give them a full opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Grace be to you…