What if we look back at history and judged people by today’s standards? What if we criticize them for not being like us? This type of rejection can hinder our understanding of the written Word.
We can lose our appreciation for the day and time in which the history detailed in the Bible is presented.
One difficulty that would be repulsive today could be the annihilation of those who were enemies of the Jews. God instructed the Jews to kill adults and children when they overthrew the cities of the enemy. Today this would be called genocide. Such instruction today could be a cause for a reader to reject the energy of Scripture.
However, instead of us judging the events of Scripture by today’s standard, it would behoove us to recognize the culture and standards of yesteryear. All warring nations of the Old Testament annihilated their victims when their cities were conquered. This is one reason the Jews levied no objection to God’s instructions.
It was simply the practice of the day in warfare to kill everyone on the opposite side of conflict. In the case of killing children, there were good reasons even though this might seem horrific to us. Should children be allowed to grow up and form their own familial society, they could be a source for future warfare against the Jews. If we were honest, we have done the same thing in our own warfare. In World War II, civilians who were young and old were killed. Think what happened in the bombing of Japan.
It could be argued that God knows the future and that perhaps a certain child would not grow up to be an enemy. First, that is pure speculation. Second, how could God make his followers to understand a prediction several decades ahead in the future when they had difficulty coping with their current circumstance? Third, these were people that worshiped idols while themselves killing their own children as sacrifices.
God has mercy amid his judgments. Look to the story of Jonah. The prophet did not want to obey God and preach to the people of Nineveh for fear that they might be converted. He wanted to protect his own people. When he became obedient, they did turn to God and that entire generation was saved.
It is best to let Scripture be its own judge while we encounter the spiritual aspects of the text as a learning tool. Since we cannot rightfully judge another person today for not being as we expect, it is not reasonable to cast an expectation against persons that lived thousands of years ago whose stories are told in the Bible. There is no valid comparison to the lifestyle and behavior between persons of Scripture and persons today. We should read the Bible without critiquing it.