Challenge: A Real God Wouldn’t Have Let His Chosen People Suffer Defeats

We’re continuing again this week with a challenge from “40 Problems with Christianity”:

If God chose the Jews as his chosen people (a fact necessary for Christianity to be authentic), why did they suffer so many defeats and tribulations at the hands of their enemies? The outcome of many of these conflicts would make it appear that God had chosen the other side instead. This is best exemplified by the Jewish-Roman war of AD 66-73, where the Romans slaughtered the Jews all of the way from Jerusalem to the final stronghold of Masada. It makes no sense that the people backed by an all-powerful God would fall victim to its non-God-aided enemies, much less in such a brutal and convincing fashion.

The odd thing is that just a couple of points earlier, the author says the Israelites just invented a tribal god that favored them, but this point seems to contradict that. Clearly the Israelites were aware they suffered at the hands of other nations throughout their history. And in fact, the Old Testament writings make clear that God’s ultimate purpose wasn’t to “favor” the Israelites no matter what (in the sense that everything would always be hunky-dory for them). He wasn’t a magical charm to ensure battle victories for His favorite team. The God of the Old Testament is concerned about something greater than tribalism. What was God concerned about? What does it mean that the Israelites were God’s chosen people? What was God accomplishing through them, and did He succeed? Or did the various oppressions of the Israelites by other world powers prove He was a failure and probably doesn’t exist at all?

This seems to be an interesting variation on the problem of evil (i.e., why doesn’t God prevent evil from happening in the lives of the people He loves?), set in the context of Old Testament history. How would you respond? Let us know in the comments below, and Alan will give his video response on Thursday.

[Update: View Alan's video response. Explore past challenges here and here.]


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Amy K. Hall