What’s With the Draconian Commandments in the Old Testament?

This entry is part 26 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Question Twenty-Seven

What’s With the Draconian Commandments in the Old Testament?

Many critics justifiably question some of the draconian measures attributed to the God of the Bible.  These are mostly found in the Old Testament and if strictly followed it would make the Taliban look like the good guys.

Here are some of them.

• Gays caught in the act were to be put to death.

• Witches, fortune tellers, false prophets and anyone who blasphemes were to suffer the death penalty.

• Anyone who worked on the Sabbath was to be put to death.

• A woman who was found to not be a virgin on her wedding night was to be stoned to death.

• Adulterers were to be put to death.

• Unruly children were to suffer the death sentence.

• Those who did not accept the verdict of a judge or priest are included with those who suffer death.

• On top of this the Israelites were sometimes commanded to slay all the inhabitants of the cities they conquered. We’ve all heard the story of the Battle of Jericho. Here is just one quote of many available:

“When the people heard the sound of the horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the city from every side and captured it.  They completely destroyed everything in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, donkeys – everything.”  (Joshua 6:20-21 NLT)

Wow.  This sounds a lot different than the words of John from the New Testament, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” I John 4:8

There are four ways that this huge difference in approach is explained.

(1) Atheists say that all the supernatural stuff in the Bible is just made up and this pretty much proves it.

(2) Others say that the God of the Old Testament couldn’t have been anything like Jesus and must have been a mean SOB.

(3) Some say that God is evolving and is just becoming a nicer guy as time goes forward.

(4) Many will cite this scripture.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa 55:8-9

The thinking of this group is this. Yes, it does sound that God was very harsh in those times, but we do not understand all his ways. What he did was really loving if we could just understand His will and higher ways of thinking.

It is true that those of lesser intelligence cannot always understand the ways of those of higher intelligence so there is some obvious truth to this scripture. Unfortunately, many claiming to speak for God have used this idea to convince followers to accept a lot of illusion, and sometimes harmful teachings.

So what is the real truth here? Here it is in a nutshell for your consideration.

Any inspiration or revelation that comes from God is filtered through the minds of fallible humans and then put into words. The end product is always adapted to the consciousness of the individual or group who is receiving at that time.  In addition to this many teachings and commands that are claimed to have been from God are merely from the minds of men and are in harmony with their thinking and desires at the time.

Therefore, the highest the minds of men reach toward the heart of God will depend on the consciousness of the people in the age in which he resides.

Now we may read some of the draconian measures the Israelites used and think that they were the meanest people on the planet, but we would be wrong.

Their strict rules and actions were actually a step or two above most of the other nations that surrounded them.

Other peoples conducted human sacrifice even resorting to using virgins, children and babies. Israel was forbidden such practices.

Outrageous measures to torture enemies and criminals were used by nations surrounding Israel.  When the Israelites did kill their enemies the act was done as clean and swiftly as possible but not so with many other peoples at that time. They often made their enemies suffer as much as possible by means of fire, skinning them alive, disemboweling them, gouging out eyes, cutting off body parts a piece at a time or pouring molten metal down their throats.

So, as draconian as the actions of ancient Israel was, they were the good guys in comparison to many of their neighbors.

When you clime a ladder you must take one step at a time.  We cannot expect an ancient people to have taken ten steps at once so they would suddenly be at the same state of civilization that we have achieved in the present.

Consider this, just a few centuries ago not only were there many black slaves but there were saves of all races and it was just accepted as a necessity to civilization.

We in the present have difficulty looking at actions of people in the past and understanding the difficulty in moving their consciousness forward.

Hundreds of years from now people will look back on us and have difficulty understanding why we do many ignorant things.  A book could be written as to what those things may be.

Conclusion:  It doesn’t matter how loving God is, He cannot snap His fingers and instantly pass this love on to us. The best of humanity will take the highest they understand from God and teach the rest of us, and then the rest of us always dumb the teaching down so our mindsets are not overly disturbed. In the end, we wind up not taking ten steps but one small one at a time.


Copyright by J J Dewey 2014

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