19:9 | Here’s a passage that’s troubling to me, as someone who’s grappling with the balance between God being all-loving and God being all-powerful:
And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the seige and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.
How are we supposed to react to God saying that He will make the Israelites eat one another’s flesh? While cannibalism is not explicitly forbidden in Mosaic law, it was generally understood to be base and sub-human. Almost all explicit mentions of cannibalism in the Bible are in this context — the hunger and depravity of the Jews in their coming punishment.
The question for me, though, remains. Here is God saying that He will make the people do this awful thing. How am I to take this? This is the crux of the issue that has troubled me so much in the past: what if God wanted to make me (or anyone) do something that was perfect according to His larger plan but abominable by any moral measure? I suppose there is an answer in the idea of God not actually causing them to eat human flesh but merely allowing them to display to themselves the depth of their sin and their total dependence upon Him.
That may solve the theological sticky wicket of implicating God in evil, but it’s not very comforting. “Oh, so God won’t MAKE me do it, but he’ll ALLOW me to.” This is where the ideas of free will, responsibility for our actions, and freedom from sin (as purchased by Christ) come in. I’m still not sure how, but I am growing more confident that these make all the difference.