Friday, June 1, 2012

Children Dying In the Noahic Flood

(Please note that I am not intending to claim I have any special insight here; I don't. Rather, in defense of my God, I am proposing a perspective that may help those grabbling with the issue.)

I met a man recently that repeatedly brought up how appalled he was with idea that God would so cruelly destroy children and babies at the time of the flood during the days of Noah. I set out to make two main points with him. First, what record, if any, exists in the Bible that indicates how God feels about putting people to death? Second, what is the parent’s responsibility in continuance of the child’s life?

In the next four scriptural citations, note what is stated regarding how God feels about anyone being put to death. The reason these are cited is that they occur hundreds of years apart, thus demonstrating consistency. (There was approximately 900 years between Moses and Ezekiel and another 600 years between Ezekiel and Peter.)

The circumstance surrounding the following scripture is the event wherein Moses was being given the two tablets (no, they didn’t come with apps).
(Exodus 34:6, 7) And Jehovah went passing by before his face and declaring: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, 7 preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment,….”

The following two scriptures are part of the message that God had Ezekiel deliver to the disobedient nation of Israel:
 (Ezekiel 18:23) “‘Do I take any delight at all in the death of someone wicked,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘[and] not in that he should turn back from his ways and actually keep living?’
(Ezekiel 18:32) “‘For I do not take any delight in the death of someone dying,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘So cause a turning back and keep living, O YOU people.’”

The following was the apostle Peter’s observation/conclusion after having been in close association with Jesus and living a life as one of Christ’s followers for some time:
(2 Peter 3:9) Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with YOU because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.

So Jehovah God, in his own words, claims to be merciful and slow to anger. Ezekiel writes that God doesn’t enjoy killing people. Peter indicates God does NOT desire to destroy anyone. If that is so, then why would God do so? One possible answer is found in the following two scriptures:

(Jeremiah 9:24) “But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight,” is the utterance of Jehovah.

(Revelation 11:18) But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give [their] reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.

Yes, to be fair, God needs to exercise not only patience with the wicked, but at some point he has to finally reward those who are loyal to Him. After all, it really is not fair to the loyal ones to have to endure the wicked of the earth forever. At some point the wicked must be removed. But why children?

If a police officer showed up at your home and arrested you because your neighbor’s kids had committed a crime, you would be justifiably outraged. It is not your responsibility to raise other people’s children. Parents are the ones responsible for raising their own children.

On the other hand, let’s say the children are, as the cliché says, “perfect angels.” What if the parents of those children had suddenly, tragically died in an auto accident and the State showed up at your home and forced you to permanently care for the children? Once again, no matter how good those kids are, you would rightly say that it was unjust for you to be forced into that situation. Now, IF those kids had a good reputation, you might be willing to watch those kids for a short while until living relatives can be found. And if no relatives were found, you may even choose to adopt them if your circumstances allow. But being forced without having any say in the matter, even if the kids are “perfect angels,” you would feel an injustice was done to you. Thankfully, in our modern society, there are methods for handling such situations that do not involve forcing citizens into possible financial ruin by taking on children that are not theirs.

Now, lets consider the flood of Noah’s day. How does the Bible describe general moral fiber of that day?
(Genesis 6:11, 12) And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the [true] God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.

Just before that citation (in verses 8 & 9), it says that Noah was not like the general populous. In comparison to his contemporaries, he had found favor in God’s eyes, was righteous & lived his life in harmony with what God wanted, in effect, he “walked with God.” According to the account, only Noah and his family worked on building the floating, enclosed barge (the “Ark”). He worked on it for some 40 years. Besides building, what else did he do during that time?

(2 Peter 2:5) and he [God] … kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people;

Obviously, Noah must have drawn a crowd that came to see what this man was building. What would he have told them? The most logical is, “God told me to build this thing because a flood is coming to cleanse the earth of wickedness.”

So for 40 years this went on. That is enough time to raise up at least two generations of offspring. But what of those that were young children or even mere babies? Take a look at children as young as pre-school today. I’ve seen them swearing worse than I ever did even as a teen. I’ve seen them flip off adults including their own parents. I have read accounts of those in their early teens attacking and even killing their parents and siblings. Why is this notable? Because Jesus said at Matthew 24:37, “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” So what you and I see in this world today is pretty much the way it was “in the days of Noah.”

Well, then how about mere babies? Everyone has an opinion of just when babies become children. The fact is, each child's learning rate is different. Regardless, it all comes back to: "Who is responsible for these?" The answer is always "the parents." No one else can rightly be held responsible for raising the children.

With all this as a backdrop, lets consider: Would you really force onto Noah all the babies and children of those disobedient peers? Would it really be fair & just to make Noah raise all those brats? Ok, so maybe you reason: “Well, babies haven’t had time to become brats.” Yes, but its not Noah’s fault that they were born. Its not his responsibility to raise those kids—it’s the parents’ responsibility. The parents could have repented and saved the lives of their family. They chose not to.

But lets say that somehow you can reason that there should have been some exception clause. Just where would you draw the line? At the “age of reason”? I can remember things as far back as age 3. Lets say those children in Noah’s day had at least that same mental capacity. Lets say Noah is forced to take all kids under the age of 4 with him. First of all, since the parents considered Noah to be a wacko, would you really expect them to just say “here, take my kid”? Or how about Noah goes up to them and demands to take their children. Wouldn't they laughingly mock him?

But take this absurdity to the next level. Lets say that Noah actually does take their children. How many children are we talking about. I wasn't there, were you? Since the earth was "filled with violence," would you say maybe 20, 50, 100 children? Even 100 is probably a small estimate. Once they are on the Ark, how are eight adults going to care for all those children AND the animals they were commanded to take. Then, after the flood, when those kids are in their 20’s or 30’s, seeing as they remember their parents and the flood, do you really think they wouldn’t attack Noah and his family, blaming them for their parents death?

Really, as cold as it may sound, it does boil down to “who is responsible for a child’s life?” While any adult might come to the aid of an endangered child, in the context of something as monumental as the flood, it is the parents sole responsibility. God provided plenty of warning and no one listened; no one else helped with the Ark. Nobody likes the idea of people “having” to die, not even God. But when you consider all angles of the ramifications, the decision God made was really the only one that made sense. Noah was not responsible for raising the children of his rebellious, incorrigible, and completely corrupt contemporaries..

Addendum (Reference): w1968-1015, Article: "Why God Decreed Extermination for the Canaanites"

1 comment:

  1. Bart!

    This is an exceptional article! Thank you, brother!