Does God act like a spoiled child?
That was the question put in my mind when watching the movie Exodus recently, starring Christian Bale. In the movie, when God speaks to Moses, he appears in the form of a small boy (very odd). Before the tenth and final plague, God warns Moses that there will be another terrible judgment on Egypt. When Moses tells him that Egypt has suffered enough, the boy-God becomes angry and says that he wants to have Pharaoh down on his knees begging for mercy, or words to that effect. The face of the boy, as he shouts at Moses, contorts in anger, like a petulant child who has been denied a pretty bauble. Not a pleasant picture.
Then, after Pharaoh’s son dies during the tenth plague, he goes out to meet Moses, the dead baby in his arms. “What kind of God would kill a child?” he cries out in rage and sorrow. Moses has nothing much to say to this.
But we must learn to respond better than movie-Moses did. The fact remains that God did kill thousands of children during the tenth plague; their ages no doubt ranging from teenagers to newborn babies. But if you shudder at the thought of God killing that many babies, you ain’t seen nothing yet (to borrow scholarly language for a moment). God also had many children killed when Israel invaded Canaan; Joshua and the Israelites killed every person in Jericho except Rahab and her family – “both man and woman, young and old” (Josh. 6:21). And how about the worldwide Flood in Noah’s day? There may have been several billion people alive at the time of the great Flood! And God killed every single last one of them, including the babies, except for eight people.
So, do you feel that God’s reputation is in tatters because of this? When you read such stories about wholesale slaughter in the Bible, do you shudder and feel ashamed of God? If you do, that shows how little you understand of holiness and sin. We are shocked at the wrong things.
What is truly shocking is not God’s judgment but sin. What is truly horrible is not the deaths of thousands of people but the world’s seemingly fathomless disdain for God. If we saw how infinitely precious is God’s holiness, and how vile and utterly reprehensible our sin is, we would look at all the judgments of the Bible and say, “Amen. Hallelujah.” In Revelation 19, after God destroys Babylon, killing multitudes of people, whose smoke goes up forever and ever, how do the saints in Heaven – who are perfect and sinless – respond? They say, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments” (Rev. 19:1-2). A response like this doesn’t mean that the glorified redeemed enjoy death; far from it! God Himself doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked – but the wages of sin is death, and God’s justice will never shrink back from execution. But if we were holier, we would agree with God that all His actions are just, holy, and right.
Here is where we must humble ourselves and repent of our hubristic judgment of God. He is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, not we; He is the giver of life, not we, and it is perfectly just for Him to take it away (see Deut. 32:39ff). People think they can judge God for His actions, but the reality is that when they do this, they are the ones being judged – and failing, as Belshazzar failed (Dan. 5:22-23, 27). No person deserves life; no child deserves life. Following Adam’s sin, suffering, disease, and death entered this world – as it should have.
“What kind of God would kill an innocent child?” That is the wrong question. The right question is, “What kind of God would kill His own innocent Son that worthless rebels might become His children?” And here is the answer: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory; the Lamb worthy of eternal praise from His redeemed ones; our God!