Addressing one Muslims Assertions
The Muslim Accusation
Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, a.k.a. M.E.N.J., has adapted an argument (*) from a medieval Muslim polemicist named Ibn Hazm who attacked the Holy Bible for portraying God as an imperfect Being who changes his mind and doesnt keep his word.
MENJ writes that:
Does God change or does not change His mind? According to Ibn Hazm, Exodus 32:10-14 and 33:3-14 ascribes al-bada' (changing of mind) to God and hence this presents a problem to the nature of God and His characters with regard to His All-Knowing attribute.
After citing these specific texts, MENJ makes the following assertions:
When one compares the above passages side by side, the internal contradictions between especially Exodus 32:10, 32:14 and 33:2-3 on the one hand and Exodus 33:14 on the other, clearly raises many problems of theological and moral concern from the Biblical context. In this case that was quoted above, in spite of God's determination to punish the Israelites for their idolatrous conduct, He did not execute punishment due to the intercession of Moses who had "reminded" God of His promise made with Abraham and the patriachs[sic] for their descendents. This Biblical passage seems to implicitly suggest that this "reminder" had made God realise his "wrong" decision and have Him repenting for it. Such an obvious "error" or even to imply such a thing is hardly befitting any person of integrity, let alone God, the Almighty.3
Hence the implications of Exodus 33:2-14 compared to other Biblical passages on the chartacteristics[sic] of God as discussed by Ibn Hazm is manifold:
(1) God is accused of breaking His promise and changing His decision and mind;
(2) God is accused of violating the principles of justice and told lies.
With the problems that are evident in Exodus 33:2-14, one must either agree to the above accusations against God or admit that this is an internal contradiction which does not agree with passages concerning God and His characteristics in the other parts of the Bible. Most certainly in this case, Ibn Hazm's criticism of the Bible with regard to God contradicting Himself is thus not without basis and here the Bible contradicts itself internally.
The Christian Response
Here are the passages in question so as to allow the readers to see the verses for themselves which will enable them to follow along our exegesis:
"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him. Aaron answered them, Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me. So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD. So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the LORD said to Moses, Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." I have seen these people, the LORD said to Moses, and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation. But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. O LORD, he said, why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, "It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth"? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever." Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened." Exodus 32:1-14
"Then the LORD said to Moses, Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, "I will give it to your descendants." I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way. When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, Tell the Israelites, "You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you." So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb. Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting. Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Moses said to the LORD, You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people. The LORD replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:1-14
With the foregoing references in mind we can now begin our discussion and analysis.
In the first place, the disaster that Yahweh relented from carrying out was his intent to completely wipe out the entire nation for the sin of the golden calf. Note, once again, what Yahweh told Moses:
"Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." Exodus 32:10
Gods statement that he would make Moses into a great nation implies that he intended to destroy the whole race except Moses and his family. But as a result of Moses intercession he didnt destroy them all but only punished the guilty parties:
"Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, There is the sound of war in the camp. Moses replied: It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear. When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. He said to Aaron, What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin? Do not be angry, my lord, Aaron answered. You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, "Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." So I told them, "Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off." Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf! Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, Whoever is for the LORD, come to me. And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: "Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor." The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day. So Moses went back to the LORD and said, Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sinbut if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. The LORD replied to Moses, Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin. And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made." Exodus 32:15-29, 31-35
Yahwehs statement that he would blot out of his book those who had sinned, Joshuas comments about noise in the camp and the Levites killing their brethren are all indications that not everyone was guilty of committing idolatry. Hence, contrary to the assertion of MENJ, Yahweh did punish those guilty of worshiping the golden calf.(1)
This leads us to our next point. God repenting from destroying the entire people doesnt necessarily imply that God changed his mind. If anything, it proves that God is immutable and remains consistent with his nature. Let us explain what we mean.
Suppose that God continues to bless indefinitely a nation that has turned away from righteousness, would he be holy and just? Of course not since an infinitely holy God cannot simply overlook persistent sin and rebellion but must address and punish all evildoers. Likewise, what if God destroyed a nation that earnestly sought forgiveness and repented of their wickedness? Would God be merciful and kind? We all know what the answer is.
Here is the point. Since God cannot deny himself, but must always remain faithful, he will either pull back from punishing a nation that has repented or bring punishment upon a people that has turned away from his righteousness. Putting it simply, because God acts consistently with his own nature he will take into account the actions of his creatures and deal with them accordingly, i.e. he will not continue to bless evildoers or punish repentant sinners. In the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel:
"Then the word of the LORD came to me: O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potters hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: "Thus says the LORD, behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds." But they say, "That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart."" Jeremiah 18:5-12
God tells Jeremiah in advance what the response of the people will be, showing that he knows what will happen even before it occurs! And:
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not just. Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, The way of the Lord is not just. O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live." Ezekiel 18:20-32
Here, God expressly says that he doesnt delight in destroying the wicked but rather takes pleasure that they repent and live. This is why God can say to Israel that he will judge them but at the same time command them to repent, which demonstrates that God takes into consideration the actions of the people in determining whether he will show judgment or mercy.
This basically means that Gods threat of judgment isnt necessarily the last word since, being merciful and longsuffering, God prefers that sinners repent of their sins and live. And one of the means that God uses to lead people to repentance is through threats of judgment.
Moreover, since God often intends to bring people back to repentance he will obviously allow enough time for them to heed the warning and turn from their wicked acts.
This point is beautifully illustrated in the book of Jonah:
"Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you. Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important citya visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned. The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened." Jonah 3:1-10
"But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. But the LORD replied, Have you any right to be angry? But the LORD said, You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:1-4, 10-11
The above clearly shows that God sometimes uses threats of destruction as a means of drawing people to turn from their wicked ways, since he desires that the wicked repent and live.
The fact that Gods warnings are often conditional is further seen by Gods very words to Moses:
"Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." Exodus 32:10
God expressly says to Moses to leave him alone so that he can wipe out the entire nation, which means that he would not destroy them completely if Moses didnt let him be. And it is precisely because Yahweh is a loving and merciful God who doesnt delight in destroying the wicked that Moses knew he could plead with him to turn from his wrath and forgive his people:
"Then Moses said to him, If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth? And the LORD said to Moses, I WILL DO THE VERY THING YOU HAVE ASKED, BECAUSE I AM PLEASED WITH YOU and I know you by name. Then Moses said, Now show me your glory. And the LORD said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, he said, you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. Then the LORD said, There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. O Lord, IF I HAVE FOUND FAVOR IN YOUR EYES, he said, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance. Then the LORD said: I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, WILL DO FOR YOU. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Exodus 33:15-22, 34:5-14
Here is another example:
"The LORD said to Moses, How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they. Moses said to the LORD, Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, "The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert." Now may the Lord's strength be displayed, just as you have declared: "The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR GREAT LOVE, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now. The LORD replied, I have forgiven them, as you asked." Numbers 14:11-20
Another passage that fits in with this theme would be Abraham interceding for Sodom, and God being pleased with Abrahams insistent intercession (cf. Genesis 18:22-33). This shows how close Abraham was to the heart of God.
Yet this raises another pertinent point. In order for God to relent from punishing sinners who deserve to die he must have a basis to do so, one that will maintain and satisfy his perfect justice and holiness. Exodus 32 tells us what that basis is:
"The next day Moses said to the people, You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make ATONEMENT for your sin." Exodus 32:30
The next passage essentially repeats this point:
"At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD told me, Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them and have made a cast idol for themselves. And the LORD said to me, I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed! LET ME ALONE, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they. So I turned and went down from the mountain while it was ablaze with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my hands. When I looked, I saw that you had sinned against the LORD your God; you had made for yourselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. So I took the two tablets and threw them out of my hands, breaking them to pieces before your eyes. Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD's sight and so provoking him to anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me. And the LORD was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too. Also I took that sinful thing of yours, the calf you had made, and burned it in the fire. Then I crushed it and ground it to powder as fine as dust and threw the dust into a stream that flowed down the mountain." Deuteronomy 9:11-21
This wasnt the only time that intercession and atonement played a vital role in appeasing Gods anger to the extent that he relented from destroying the nation:
"The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. You have killed the LORD's people, they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the LORD said to Moses, Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once. And they fell facedown. Then Moses said to Aaron, Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to MAKE ATONEMENT for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started. So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, for the plague had stopped." Numbers 16:41-50
Note, once again, that Gods proclamation to destroy Israel is conditional, based on whether Moses will pull himself away from the assembly. And note that Moses, once again, intervenes by telling Aaron to make atonement in order to propitiate Gods wrath.
"Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of themthrough the Israelite and into the woman's body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. The LORD said to Moses, Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and MADE ATONEMENT for the Israelites." Numbers 25:6-13
In fact, this pattern of God forgiving sins on the basis of mediation and atonement is presupposed all throughout the Holy Scriptures:
"Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life." Genesis 8:20-21, 9:11, 15
"The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD." Genesis 12:7-8
"Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, She is my sister. Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman. Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, "She is my sister," and didn't she also say, "He is my brother"? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands. Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die. Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah." Genesis 20:1-7, 17-18
"His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. This was Job's regular custom." Job 1:4-5
"After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Jobs prayer. After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before." Job 42:7-10
God even commanded Moses to establish the Aaronic priesthood along with animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin:
"Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for him, and he will be clean." Leviticus 14:19-20
"The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. The LORD said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goatsone lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die. He is to take some of the bull's blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover. He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites. When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelitesall their sinsand put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar. The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up. The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any workwhether native-born or an alien living among you- because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites. And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses." Leviticus 16:1-34
Thus, God is able to forgive sinners while still maintaining his perfect justice and satisfying his own holiness since he punishes the wicked vicariously, through substitutionary atonement, which is mediated by an individual whom God appoints. This explains why Gods Word says that God cannot forgive sinners without blood being shed:
"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." Leviticus 17:11
"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Hebrews 9:22
It is time now to bring this to a conclusion and to summarize the main points of this article.
Here is what we have seen thus far:
A careful reading of Exodus 32 and 33, as well as an examination of the Bible as a whole, shows that Gods threats of destruction and disaster are not the last word, they are not irrevocable.
Gods warnings are often conditional (which may not appear in that particular text but which is implied nonetheless since it is mentioned elsewhere - cf. Jeremiah 18:5-12; Ezekiel 18:20-23, 30-32 etc.), with the condition being that he will only carry out his threat of destruction if the people do not repent.
The reason Gods warnings often carry a condition is due to his very nature, due to his being a loving and merciful God who waits patiently for his servants to repent since he doesnt delight in destroying the wicked but saving them.
In fact, God often uses threats to lead people to repentance, to move them to turn from their wickedness and live.
Yet God cannot simply forgive the injustices and crimes of the people without this compromising his holiness and justice. Therefore, Gods righteousness must be met and his wrath must be appeased before he can forgive the wicked.
God has provided vicarious sacrifice, substitutionary atonement, to punish the crimes of the wicked so that his justice and holiness can be satisfied and therefore perfectly maintained.
Yet these sacrifices could only provide temporary satisfaction due to their limited and finite value. This explains why they had to be offered over and over again. Ultimately these offerings prefigured and foreshadowed the only sacrifice that could provide eternal satisfaction to God, the only offering whose value is infinite. They pointed to the vicarious death of the Lord Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God.
In fact, the mediation and intercession of Moses, Aaron and the others also foreshadowed the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. They were all pointing to the mediation and intercession of Christs eternal High Priesthood:
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:25-26
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all menthe testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6
"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess." Hebrews 3:1
"For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our needone who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:14-16, 24-28
"When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritancenow that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:11-15, 23-28
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." 1 Peter 1:18-20
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."1 John 1:7-10
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defenseJesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2
The foregoing shows that God wasnt necessarily changing his mind when he relented from bringing disaster, since his intention isnt to destroy but to lead sinners to repentance and forgiveness.
Another reason God gives out warnings is to show that his destruction of these people is well deserved and just since, instead of doing what is right by turning from their wicked ways, they persist in their rebellion and wickedness.
Putting it another way, since God knows everything perfectly he already knows whether these individuals will repent or not. Yet he warns them anyway in order to demonstrate his great endurance and tolerance since he doesnt rush in to destroy the wicked but waits patiently before bringing complete annihilation. These warnings also demonstrate why such persons fully deserve the punishment they receive since, no matter how many threats are given or disciplinary measures are taken, no matter how long God waits patiently for them to turn, they continue to act wickedly and corruptly. In the words of the Holy Bible:
"The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon, declares the LORD. Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do, declares the Sovereign LORD. I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel." Amos 4:2-12
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:12-16
"As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites." Genesis 15:12-21
The LORD said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and say to them: "I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you."" Leviticus 18:1-5, 24-28
Notice that God waited four hundred years before he finally wiped out the Amorites/Canaanites for their gross abominations. Talk about endurance!
No wonder that the prophets could say that:
"Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you." Jeremiah 30:15
"Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?" Lamentations 3:39
"Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD's wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness." Micah 7:9
So what MENJ and his source Ibn Hazm thought were biblical examples of Gods imperfection actually turn out to be a demonstration of God's perfect love, mercy, patience, justice and holiness!
We are now ready to move onto the second part of our rebuttal where we turn the tables on MENJ and his Islamic deity.
All scriptural quotations taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.
(1) The Bible often attributes the actions of certain individuals, or even of one person, to the whole, to the entire group, as the following passages amply demonstrate:
"While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD's anger burned against them. The LORD said to Moses, Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORDs fierce anger may turn away from Israel. So Moses said to Israel's judges, Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor." Numbers 25:1-5
Here, the men committed the crime and yet God can say that Israel did so.
"But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, Go up and spy out the region. So the men went up and spied out Ai. When they returned to Joshua, they said, Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there. So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name? The LORD said to Joshua, Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; THEY have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. THEY have taken some of the devoted things; THEY have stolen, THEY have lied, THEY have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, "Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it. In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!" Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Then Joshua said to Achan, My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me. Achan replied, It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD. Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today. Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since." Joshua 7:1-26
The action of one man, Achan, is attributed to the entire nation. Moreover, the above reference speaks of all the people going to war, which actually refers to the fighting men:
"Now the LORD said to Joshua, Do not fear or be dismayed Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it. So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night." Joshua 8:1-3 NASB
The above passages indicate that the Bible will often refer to an entire group and even employ language such as "all," "everyone," even when it doesnt have every single person in view.
The reason why the Holy Bible can do this is because the Holy Scriptures picture humanity as a corporate solidarity where the actions of one member can be reckoned to the entire group. And because humanity is a unit the actions of one can and often does have an impact on the other individual members, just as the following example demonstrates:
"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, "As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fallevery one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But youyour bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, SUFFERING FOR YOUR UNFAITHFULNESS, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty yearsone year for each of the forty days you explored the landyou will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you." I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die." Numbers 14:26-35
Notice that the children suffer because of the actions of their disbelieving parents.
The Apostle Paul beautifully sums this up:
"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I don't need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, I don't need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:14-27
Thus, when Exodus 32 says that Israel sinned, or that the nation worshiped the calf, we are not to understand from this that every single Israelite worshiped the golden calf. Rather, we are to gather from this that the action of those responsible for committing this specific sin is being attributed to the nation as a whole due to their being in solidarity.
Now the reader may question Gods justice in wanting to wipe out the entire nation because of the sins of the few. After all, why punish those who were not guilty of committing this specific sin? The answer to that comes from the Holy Bible itself:
"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain." Genesis 6:5-6
"The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done." Genesis 8:21
God could have wiped everyone out, including Moses, since all human beings are born with a sinful nature which causes them to sin and rebel. In fact, the entire Old Testament is one long record of Israels constant apostasy and wickedness.
Thus, God would have been completely justified in destroying everyone, especially those who did not worship the calf, because even they were sinners at heart who could not help but to rebel against their Redeemer. This is why the Holy Bible teaches that Israel (and everyone else for that matter) was not saved because of their righteousness, since they were wicked, but because of Gods grace and mercy that chose them in spite of their rebellious hearts:
"Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today." Deuteronomy 4:37-38
"The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Deuteronomy 7:7-8
"After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness. No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember this and never forget how you provoked the LORD your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD You have been rebellious against the LORD ever since I have known you." Deuteronomy 9:4-7, 24 cf. 31:14-29
Interestingly, Islam teaches something similar:
Not that what Islam teaches matters to us, but it matters to Muslims like MENJ who constantly attack the Holy Bible for teaching the same things that their own religious texts affirm.
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