The most uncomfortable passages in my opinion

These are the uncomortable passages in my opinion and some good answers i found.

Exodus 21:20-21)

(Numbers 15:32-36

(2 Kings 2:23-24

(Numbers 31:17-18

.Now the firsts ones i have done a pretty good research finding good answers.The two last ones well i just cant get my head around…I suppose in 2 Kings 2:23-24 youths here are meant to be young men in their 20s or something.But still cant get around why whould God kill them.And finally the last one Numbers 31:17-18 .I understand the historical concept behind some of them but nonethelles they are(especially the two last ones)a little bit unsetling .Thanks and God bless

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Very unsettling. Have you read Greg Boyd’s book about this…“Cross Vision”? He is a Princeton educated pastor who attempted to write a book defending and explaining all the difficult passages in the Bible (violence related). He found he could not do it. He decided that God revealed himself most truly in Jesus, who said he was a better revelation, but that the OT Israelites interpreted Him incorrectly, through the lenses of their culture. His larger work, “Crucifixion of the Warrior God,” followed by the shorter version, “Cross Vision,” outlined his theory. There are some compelling points, such as the fact that Jesus pointed out that some of the Law was because of the Israelites’ hardness of heart, and was transcended and overturned by His coming. I see some concerns with it, but also feel that it opened up a lot of insight for me.

I dont know randy. There are some pretty good answers on some of them. Regarding the OT beign interpeted wrong. If it really did then we have no understanding of Gods character and his relationship with the Jews and how actually sin entered the world

I totally struggle with this, especially in Num 31.

If the Old Testament had revealed everything about God that was needed then there would have been no teaching work left for Christ and later apostles to do. But there was. That isn’t so much to say the O.T. has nothing to teach us so much as to say it was definitely incomplete, and the way it was being understood / used definitely needed correction!

[And it is abundantly apparent that our O.T. understandings are still in need of N.T. correction even yet today!]


Alright but what that has to do(the OT beign interpreted wrong) with it beign not completed?

The New Testament completes a progression (still a contemporary struggle even within itself) of revealing that God is not limited to being just a tribal God of a singular chosen people, but the God of everything and everyone. Not that the O.T. doesn’t explicitly teach this too (as we can especially see and emphasize now after receiving our ‘New Testament eyes’). But to the tribal partisans of that time, who lived in a world where their own God was in serious competition with neighboring tribal gods, it was not a time for putting others first or “loving your enemies”, etc. We now know that God is like that, and was always like that, of course - but their story is told through an interpretive lens in which the Deuteronomic God materially and militarily rewarded his chosen nation’s faithful obedience (and punished their more frequent disobedience). In that day and age one does not boast to others about what your God and his prophets can do by candidly declaring “well - God helped us remove a few of you chaps from your land, anyway! We took some losses ourselves, and it looks like it will be a long haul for us; but look out! And when our God is done establishing us, He’s gonna be a blessing to all you as well!” No No No NO! You write about how your God totally beat up on and humiliated all the Egyptian gods, and is going to beat up all your gods too. You don’t mess with our God - none of you are going to survive. Nobody. We’re about to open a huge can of Whoop-*** on all of you poor buggers. **

That would have been the common narrative of that time - even with a lot of foreshadowing hints pointing toward what was to come (we see them all over the OT now.) But that doesn’t change that they had a very different view of God than what Christ was about to reveal some centuries later. We still don’t have all the answers for the whole narrative, of course - but we have a lot more now than they had then! And even though, theirs was incomplete - even wrong in many ways; it still was the foundation that God used and built on to make the divine plan unfold. It shouldn’t surprise us that they had much to learn about God - because it naturally leads us to the present question: do we still have a lot to learn about God now? It would be unparalleled arrogance for us to think we don’t. And if we are still getting some of this stuff wrong, even after Christ and the apostles’ teachings and work, then how much less should we be surprised that the O.T. narrative is so full of tragedy, mis-steps, and faulty impressions? It was the early trajectory God was already beginning to set them on that should most interest us, rather than asking where it was God had to go to meet them in their own time and culture. Is any of that making sense?

** [Imagine a cheerleader team for sports today having a cheer that went something like: “we’re hoping to score slightly more points than your team!” …or… “we want some good competition - go both teams go! We hope your team and ours play well and make each other work hard!” … and now you know how silly it would be for the war narratives to be written any other way. The real cheers we hear in our arenas today are more like “shut them down … stomp them into the ground…”]

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Yeah i think so.You seem to bringing up the word false and understanding on the post which makes me think about it. But if their understanding was wrong wouldnt God want to change that? Surely he wouldnt let us with a hole book of wrong interpatations of him and his attributes whould he?

Absolutely! And God did. It’s called the New Testament.


What? Nooo. Jesus said he didnt come to abolish the law bur fulfill it. So did Jesus quoted from a false interpreted book? (Because he frequently quoted verses)I doubt it

I didn’t say any whole “book” (much less a collection of books) was false! (what would that even mean, anyway?) It’s a story about a people learning who their God is and not getting it right all the time. Jesus made free use of scriptures and even acknowledged needed changes - not so much that God was a different or changing God, but that people then were only ready for so much, and now Christ was giving updates and clarifications for how that law was being used … “Moses let you do that because your hearts were hard, but it wasn’t always that way from the beginning … so now I tell you …”

See the problem is the OT is directly connected with the NT. All the prophecies about the messiah and all the stories are connected to the NT. So i cant get my head around how sometimes the Isralites didnt get it or interpeted wrong.

Well - the text itself informs us that the Israelites weren’t “getting it” - maybe even most of the time. But I take it your real problem is that you want the O.T. authors to already have all the same sensibilities and “correct impressions” (code for: “same as ours today”) as they give a scathing critique for just how the ancient Israelites were getting it wrong. Well … they often gave the scathing critique all right! (Remember the trajectory being set?) But to expect that scribes and prophets back then should be writing the equivalent of New Testament letters or later theological treatises would be as silly (and useless to their actual audiences) as if they were made to write about quantum mechanics. I think your confusion has been potentially fueled by the understandable confusion of needing the entire Bible to be a dictated litany of inerrant factoids. That approach will never run out of problems (in either testament). But once you start reading the bible earnestly for what it actually teaches, some of this hand wringing can be mitigated. It doesn’t make all problems go away, but it does help you get a harder, yet more interesting set of challenges to ponder!


I’ll see your difficult passages and raise you a pickled jalapeno eating contest. :wink:

All i have to say is if it doesnt have stems dont count me in :sweat_smile:

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Hi Nick,

I don’t have specific answers for those things, but I have an idea about why such things exist in the Old Testament. After all, among the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus are very harsh, extreme penalties, and there is the story of Uzzah who, apparently trying to prevent the Ark from falling when the oxen stumbled touched the Ark. He was killed immediately.

The idea I have comes both from Jesus’ teachings and from Nature. Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father in heaven is perfect.” And in his teachings he gave some examples of what this means, such as concerning adultery, regarding enemies and giving up possessions.

In Nature, when an ecosystem has become fully developed and mature, each member of it plays a role. Each member’s offspring enter the environment in a manner that protects them from it, although how much so varies considerably. Generally, some produce few offspring at once and the offspring are highly protected, while others produce many with little protection, and only a few of the many survive to maturity. The ones who survive, though, must become perfect examples of their type in order to survive. This is how God set up the material world.

Humans are different from all other creatures in that we have the capacities (at least in potential form) both to adapt to our environment and to adapt our environment to us. Other creatures can do the latter to a very limited extent (such as beavers), but they lack the combination of cognitive and physical abilities that make us as capable of it as we have demonstrated. I think one can view the story of man’s creation on one level as an assertion of this dual capacity. God gave us dominion of the Earth and all its creatures, but he also gave us guidelines to which we were to conform. The bulk of the Old Testament is about our failure to conform to those guidelines and the resulting consequences for us.

Yet, the fundamental concern of the Bible is with our hearts. I think we can use natural ecosystems as an analogy for the nature of our hearts. It’s members are not creatures, of course, but desires (or treasures) and fears. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body and in hell.”

The strictness and harshness of the Biblical laws and of events such as those you are citing, I think, are calling us to learn what perfection is (not so much or merely correct behavior, as a well-balanced and mature ecosystem of desires and fears), and also vividly and pointedly demonstrating that the difference between perfect and imperfect is life and death. Just as it is in a mature ecosystem for all members of it (consider the Sword Billed Hummingbird!). The Old Testament is also demonstrating that the consequences of what we do go on and on and on, affecting the doer in the afterlife, and affecting those who come after for generations without end; and all of God’s interactions with humans in the Old Testament are also serving to contain sin, as part of the process through Jesus can come and fulfill his role, and through which our reunification with God in Heaven can happen. That we should respond to reading of such harsh happenings with incredulity or horror or confusion I think is intended. For if we are open in our hearts to God, then we will search for answers and such a search is a necessary part of our becoming perfect.

So what should we do in regards to such passages or other things in the Bible that confuse or repel or horrify us? I think the answer is to continuously read the Bible, to seek to practice what we learn, to pray for help and to seek understanding, as you are doing.

Understanding an ecosystem in Nature fully is not possible until one has come to know all of its members and the relationships between them completely, within the cycle of replication and change of which they and the system itself are a part.

Ultimately, this I believe is what the Bible is here to help us do, that we might come to know our own hearts, and through that the heart of God, and through that, God, that we may live in the fruits of the spirit, untarnished by the fruits of the flesh.


Ive heard that these events shows us how important and deadly every sin is to God.But i find hard to believe that God whould show it like that

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I hear you! It sounds so unreasonable, and unnecessarily harsh. One of the things I’ve come to realize since I began to believe in Jesus and learn is that people have impenetrable blind spots. Consider the prevalence of self-destructive behaviors that people engage in, even though they know clearly the danger, not to mention the people they will believe in and follow.

And then consider that these things happened 3,000 or so years ago, and AFTER God had demonstrated his power and devotion to the Jewish people with miraculous events, and given them clear (if difficult) rules to follow. It’s not like he didn’t tell them first. We have within us a collection of desires and fears that are out of sync with the the desires and fears that are good for us, and act and react upon them. This is our sinful nature. It can take a truly shocking event to make us recognize a desire or fear is bad AND resist acting upon it in the heat of a moment. Even then, if it enough time passes, we will forget.

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Any passage that is not an actual, universal, moral indictment of social injustice is just about Bronze Age excess. The most uncomfortable passages are those that condemn unfairness and cruelty which we are helpless in our privilege to address.

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I liked that one!! :wink:

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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