Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Judges: Does God command genocide?

I think since I'm done with the Hosea series, that I want to slowly go through the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings.  Why?  Because nobody seems to really teach from them.  They are rare.  I've studied Genesis and the Torah pretty well, the life of David, the Gospels, Paul's letters and the New Testament, but not much on Judges and the kings.  There are a lot of stories that people just don't know.

Now, these books are gory.  It is true.  I won't say I'm morbid, but these books are in the Bible, so we should study them.  I would say if any book in the bible is R-rated, it would be Judges.  But I don't study it for entertainment.  I study it to know Jesus better and how the Old Testament points to him. 

I also have an OT professor from Erskine who wrote a book on Judges and Ruth.  If he still reads my blog, I know he will say to get his book.  I would love to.  I still haven't yet.  His name is George Schwab and the book is Right in Their Own Eyes.  I've seen the book at LifeWay and everything.  But for now, I'm just going to go by what I read from Scripture and from stuff I see on the Gospel Coalition or in Bible dictionaries.

I think I will start by answering a common question among people who like to denounce conservative Christianity: Does the God of the Bible command genocide?  The Israelites in Judges just came from a command from God to kill all the Canaanites, including women and children, because their sin had reached its maximum point, and he was going to rid the land of them and replace them with Israel.  So, did God command genocide?

Let's think of a modern example.  Imagine a country where the men gang up on women and rape them, they slaughter children and babies for convenience, and even set up pogroms to exterminate people they consider unfit to live.  Would you not want justice done to this country?  Or even imagine the scene from Judges 19 where the man let his concubine out into the streets to get raped all night by a violent gang.  Would you not want justice for these people?  Now imagine a whole country that does all this.  Then you can see God's point of view.

God is holy.  He created all man kind and expects them to be holy.  He told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed him by eating the forbidden fruit that they would die.  They ate.  God had mercy on them by postponing their deaths until they were in their 900s.  He also slaughtered an animal to make clothes for them and told them how to come back to him. 

All their children were born into sin and it got so bad that God said he would wipe out all mankind with a flood.  But he had mercy and sent Noah to build and ark.  It took him about 100 years but he built it as a warning to all the people.  God saved Noah and his family but killed everyone else. 

Then, the survivors had children who build the tower of Babel to make a name for themselves.  There, God gave them all different languages and scattered them.  They began worshiping false gods and creating crass religions.  God saved Abraham and told him to move to Canaan.  He said that land would belong to him and his descendants.  Those people had about 400 years to learn from Abraham and repent of their sins.  But they only grew worse and worse until God finally decided to exercise his right to wipe them out.  And he did that by sending a man with the same name as Jesus, Joshua, to go and kill them all with an army.

Even then he still showed mercy to those who repented.  One was a woman name Rahab who was originally a prostitute.  She saved the spies, came to know the true God, and joined Israel, becoming an ancestor of Jesus.  The other were the Gibeonites.  They deceived the Israelites into thinking they were from far away, so they made a promise to spare them.  And they served the Israelites from then onward. 

And just the same, God gives all the world time to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus.  When Jesus/Joshua finally returns to earth to reclaim his land, those who did not turn to him will suffer all eternity under his wrath. 

Now, the Joshua who conquered Canaan was not quite as good as Jesus.  He didn't finish the job.  There were many pagans who remained for one reason or another.  And they did turn the Israelite hearts to their false religions that celebrated shrine prostitution and child sacrifice.  And later on, God had to shoo them out of the land through exile.  But he kept his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to send a Redeemer for them to look to to save them from their sins and expel all evil.  This Savior is the only reason we can have a relationship with God and not be killed in our sins.  He took the punishment on the cross, and the redeemed ones will be reconciled to God under his blood and his righteousness.

This doesn't answer all my questions on this, but it does show me that God is not a monster.  There is no difference between the OT God and the NT God who sent Jesus.  He is holy, just, and always does the right thing.  He is merciful to people but he doesn't have to be.  And when he decides to act in justice by exterminating sinners, then people are shocked.

I remember one time, Mom and I were talking about suicide and she told me, "Only God gave you your life, and only he has the right to take it away."  Perhaps we can think about it the same way, here.  God gave them life, gave them nearly a millennium to repent, and then finally followed through on his promise for them to die in their sins.  But he had mercy on Noah, Israel, and he has mercy on me even though we are all as wicked as they are.  We should both love and fear him for that.

Further reading would be this.  Also, here is a link to Schwab's book. And here's a verse, Deuteronomy 29:24-29

All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”
25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

No comments:

Post a Comment