This is the first of four points I made in a Facebook discussion in June and July of 2013. The people whose names are occasionally mentioned were the other participants in the discussion. It appears here for future reference since I deleted my Facebook account in April of 2018.
POINT #1: GOD ARBITRARILY EXERCISES HIS POWER TO PROTECT
Gil said: “There are situations where if you don’t destroy the enemy, the enemy will destroy you.”
This doesn’t work as a justification for the biblical cases of divine destructive power, it seems to me. Here’s why.
Way back when war broke out in heaven, beings more powerful than humans fought for both sides, God’s and Lucifer’s, and nobody was destroyed. Exile was a better option at that time, and we are left to guess at the reasons for this–the Bible does not reveal why God did this.
Instead of destroying the disobedient Lucifer-turned-Satan, God let him live to spread his disloyalty to God’s recent creation, the human beings of planet Earth. God protected His first enemies, the angel Satan and all those angels who joined his rebellious cause. They were protected, not destroyed, and exiled to Earth.
After threatening those first humans with death if they joined Satan’s rebellion, God decides against the death penalty when they do join it, and lets Adam and Eve live to see another day, and continue coping with sin and all its evil results. God protected His first human enemies instead of carrying out a death penalty He Himself had made.
He not only protected the human race from eternal destruction, but He also made a way for them to eventually be eternally restored to a sinless, pre-rebellion state of perfection. He did not offer this option to Satan, and again we are not told why in the Bible.
God is unable to be destroyed, being omnipotent. He is also able to cover his people with protection against the most threatening natural forces (even if at times He supernaturally brought the forces into action). He did that during the Flood, during the plagues in Egypt, during the wilderness wanderings. He promises the same protection to the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem during the Lake of Fire destruction of the wicked.
God has in the Bible story protected Himself, His heavenly home, the angels who remained loyal to Him, the enemy angels who rebelled against Him, the humans who were loyal to Him, and the enemy humans who rebelled against Him. If God is unable to be destroyed, and he is capable of shielding His people from destruction when they are threatened, then Gil’s maxim, “there are situations where if you don’t destroy the enemy, the enemy will destroy you,” doesn’t apply to the biblical God or to God’s people during Bible times.
It certainly does apply in the world as it exists outside the Bible stories, as secular history demonstrates. It also applies to Christians outside of the Bible story whenever they participate in nation-building or imperialism, which they certainly have done and continue to do in the United States. But as a justification for the biblical God’s consistent preference for utterly annihilating the enemies of Israel, to the last man, woman, child, and sometimes even to the last animal, it fails to explain God’s behavior consistent with His righteousness, justice, fairness, and omniscient wisdom.