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Bible verses about Apparent Contradiction in Scripture
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:16

A question that frequently arises regards the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13, KJV). Yet, a short time later, God commands Israel to kill the inhabitants of Canaan, including children. That God would both prohibit and command violence appears to be incongruous. Such an apparent contradiction provokes the conclusion that Old Testament instructions are untrustworthy and that the God of those times was unpredictable.

The truth, though, is that the God who gave these commands is the same One who died for the sins of mankind (cf. I Corinthians 10:1-4). The problem is not with God, but with man's understanding of His nature and intentions.

Notice that this same apparent contradiction is also found in the New Testament. On the one hand, Jesus teaches that murder begins in the heart—that harboring malice or enmity breaks the spirit of the law (Matthew 5:21-22). On the other hand, when Jesus is standing before Pontius Pilate, He says plainly that if His Kingdom were a worldly one, His servants would fight (John 18:36). They would go to war on His behalf!

It was Israel's responsibility to marshal an army to subjugate the people of the land. This is seen in Numbers 1, which takes place while Israel is still at Sinai about one year later. Numbers 1 records God telling Moses to take a census and determine the number of men who were able to go to war. Fourteen times in that one chapter God repeats the instruction to number the men who were able to “go to war”—even though He had just recently confirmed His promise to fight on their behalf. God would be driving out the inhabitants, but He was also preparing the Israelites to engage the enemy. Clearly, it was still God's intent that Israel do its part within the fight.

In God's view—the only view that matters—the land belonged to Israel. The Canaanites and others were essentially squatters. Because of their right of possession, Israel had the authority—and actually, the duty—to enforce God's laws within the realm that now belonged to them.

Israel was the “governing authority” of the land God gave to them. He intended that the leadership of Israel be a “terror to evil works” (including those of the inhabitants of the land), and He fully intended that Israel “bear the sword” (c.f. Romans 13:1-4). God requires that the civil authority “execute wrath” on those practicing evil—which certainly applied to the pagan peoples of the Promised Land.

In every place and circumstance where God gives Israel the duty to destroy the people of the land, He also mentions the idolatry of the peoples, along with demonism, sorcery, witchcraft, and child sacrifice. God was greatly concerned about the influence these things would have on His people, so He was particular in admonishing them to carry out the penalty of His law thoroughly.

David C. Grabbe
Why Did God Command Israel to Go to War?


 

Luke 9:50

Though Luke 9:50 and Luke 11:23 at first appear to contradict, a more complete reading shows how they are both true

Mark 9:33-41 shows that the context of Luke 9:50 is Christ's and His disciples' arrival at a house in Capernaum, presumably Peter's, where He gathers them together in an intimate and friendly setting. Jesus responds to the statement from John: “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us” (Luke 9:49).

John implies that since the person casting out demons in Christ's name was outside of their fellowship, he should not be trusted or empowered to invoke Christ's name, even if for the performance of a good work. But Jesus corrects John: “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me” (Mark 9:39).

In essence, Jesus cautions John to avoid interfering in the works that others are doing in support of the overall work. There is no good reason to discourage or make enemies out of those who are not working against us, including those whose level of belief and understanding we might judge as lacking. God can and does work with any and all persons as He sees fit, even compelling them to work for us.

The context of Luke 11:23 is expanded in Matthew 12:22-30. As opposed to the cordial environs of Peter's home, Luke 11:23 takes place when Jesus and His disciples are surrounded by a far more challenging crowd, including a hostile contingency of outspoken Pharisees. Having just cast out a demon from a man, Christ responds to the Pharisees' accusation in Luke 11:15: “But some of them said, 'He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.'”

The Pharisees charged Jesus with using the power of Satan, the ruler of demons, to cast out a demon. Beginning in Luke 11:17, He begins to deconstruct the accusation as being preposterous. In essence, He shows how, in the two-sided fight between the Kingdom of God and Satan, neither side can gain—or continue to stand—by assisting the opposition. Since there is no neutral ground between God and Satan, why would Satan help Jesus cast out his demons? By applying simple logic, Christ uses the Pharisees' own words against them, easily concluding, “He that is not with Me is against Me.”

Jesus' words in these two accounts are not at all in conflict. In fact, by combining them, we discover a unique harmony that exists between them. Though there is no neutral ground in our battle with the satanic forces arrayed against us, we should proceed with circumspection when we judge the actions of others, to be sure we understand the spirit that motivates them.

Martin G. Collins
Does Luke 9:50 Contradict Luke 11:23?


 

 




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