Thursday, March 24, 2016

Does God Command Genocide in the Old Testament

Exploring the concept of following a God that would command genocide is a tough concept to grasp. Yet there are revelations that are exposed that show who God is, the intensity of his love and the depth of His protection for His holy people.  In Joshua 1:11 and 3:10, there is a commanding from God for the Israelites to dispose (or dispossess) of a nation.   This command, “According to Deuteronomy 7:1–11 the Lord would remove the inhabitants of Canaan and settle the Israelites in the land.”[1]; goes back to a promise made to Moses and shows planning and consistency of our Lord.  God desires a holy people and knowing the hearts and minds of the Israelites; God will need to have the land purified.
     Knowing that the concept of purifying is difficult, there are practical arguments that can be applied so that it is clearer to any skeptics.   In the case of a medical procedure, the goal would be to completely eliminate any germs, or potential cause for infection.  The goal would be a sterile environment.  God is wiser than any human understanding, and knows the need for a pure, clean, fresh start for His people.  Many parents would desire to remove any negative influences that would cause harm to their children.  God’s command here, as hard as it may be to understand, is to display His love and protection of His children. The Canaanites were not a pure people, in fact the Teacher’s Commentary tells, “Yet for all their material advancement, the religion and morals of Canaan were degraded.”[2]  This statement could lead us to understand that the advancements of the Canaanites may set up the Israelites for covertness. Additionally, causing separation of the Israelite’s obedience to God alone.  Idols have arisen before, and God’s desire is for sin to be absent from His nation.
     God does command genocide, defined as a complete removal of evil minded people that would be able to contaminate His holy desire for the Israelites.  God desires all to be holy, yet evil will be removed from this world in His time and in His way.  A commentary of the Old Testament adds this point; “The God of Israel would now manifest himself as a living God by the extermination of the Canaanites.”[3]  This active approach to revealing Himself is beyond the normal understanding of these events.
     In modern times, there will be a reappearance of Christ.  At this time, there will be an extermination of the evil and the preservation of the good.  These verses in Joshua are much like the days ahead.  Christians standing on the borders of the New Jerusalem, and God ushering them in to the pure and holy land prepared for them.  In these days the glory of the entry will be the goal and the understanding for purity complete.

[1] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 326). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
[2] Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 163). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[3] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 2, p. 32). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

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