How do we Explain the Violence in
The Old Testament to a Watching World?
How do we Explain the Violence in the Old Testament to a Watching World?
What is the difference Between God Sending Israel to Kill Canaanites in the OT & ISIS Committing Murderous Genocide in The Middle East & Africa Today?
Joel’s original question:
- Old Testament Bloodshed: In these days of ISIS doing barbaric things in the name of Allah, how can we as Christians defend the often very bloody OT, where God commanded the Israelites to completely destroy whole nations right down to the children?
- David’s Conduct: And on similar note……1 Kings 15:5 tells us that David ” did that which was right in the eyes of the lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. Of coarse this refers to the Bathsheba incident. But, in 1 Samuel 18 : 27 , David went and killed 200 Philistines and brought their foreskins to Saul as a dowry for Saul’s daughter Michael to be his wife. We also learn that David had many wives and was so bloody that God did not let him build the temple. Despite all of this, 1 Kings tells us that David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, with the exception of Uriah. In Acts 13 Verse 22 David is referred to as a man after God’s Own Heart.
How do we reconcile all of this.
Joel’s questions are all about the:
- Character of God (Did He really say exterminate some people back then, and can He still be Good and Just, and do that?)
- Authority of God (Is God the final word on what is right, just, moral, and true or is there another source of truth out there or within us?)
- Integrity of God (Can we trust that the Bible is inspired, and His Word, and that He actually said these things?)
Analysis & Plan
- Location: Where does it say that God commanded the destruction of the Canaanites? (Gen, Deut., Joshua). What exactly does it say? Genesis 15.13-16; Leviticus 18.24-28; 27.28-29; Deuteronomy 7.1-4, 25-26;. 20.16-18; Joshua 6:17-21; 7:24-25; 24:14-15; 1 Samuel 15:3-11) We will read those verses in a moment.
- Authority: Did God say this or is it just Jewish tradition, ancient folklore, or what? Deut. 4:2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rev. 22:18-19. The Bible is the very inspired Word of the Creator God, Ruler of the Universe; and who incarnated Himself as God the Son, the Savior; and who is the Final Judge.
- Context: What is the context of this passage? [Nation of Israel (1446-586 BC), Conquest (1406-1399 BC); Theocracy (1446-1050 BC)]. Not to any individuals, not to all nations, only for National Israel at the conquest, and during theocracy, and in specific instances during the duration of the nation of Israel.
- Chronology: When was this destruction stated, by whom, and to whom? (Moses, Joshua 1446-1406 BC)
- Interpretation: What was written to whom and for whom? All Scripture (all 66 books) falls under 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Every Scripture contains teaching from God on what is right and wrong; plus how to get right and stay right. Specific passages = Old Testament theocracy commands (cherem) for Israel (1446-1050BC); Civil Laws (cleanliness, penalties, inheritance) for Israel (1446-586 BC); Ceremonial Laws (diet, defilement, priesthood, sacrifices) for Israel (1446BC-70AD); Moral Law (sexuality, marriage, crimes) for everyone (1446 BC onward).
- Scope of History: When was Israel a nation (1446-586 BC), Christianity instituted (AD 30), and Islam founded by Muhammad (570-632AD)?
- Conclusion: God is Holy, Righteous, Just & Wise. He justly commanded the execution of the wicked Canaanites during the 7-year conquest of the Promised Land. This was not intended to be the standard operating procedure for warfare for Israel or anyone else, ever again. God never authorized religious conquest using warfare. The conquest of Canaan was partly God’s sword of punishment for sin. God hates sin so much He tortured His own Son with eternal punishment for the sin of the world, and who for six hours to pay the price of sin for all who would ever believe. Jesus said He will someday consign all who have not repented to eternal fire.
Some of the Passages with Destruction Commanded
Genesis 15:13-16 (NKJV) Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Leviticus 18:24-28 (NKJV) ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. 26 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you27 (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), 28 lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 27:28-29 (NKJV) ‘Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the Lord. 29 No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death.
Deuteronomy 7:1-4, 25-26 (NKJV) “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. 3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. 25 You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.
Deuteronomy 20:16-18 (NKJV) “But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.
Joshua 6:17-21 (NKJV)Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
Joshua 7:24-25 (NKJV) Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
Joshua 24:14-15 (NKJV)“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
1 Samuel 15:3-11 (NKJV) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 4 So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley.
6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. 10 Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.
 What about the OT Stonings God instituted and the Modern stonings of Islam? How are all of those OT War Events Israel did Reconciled with God as a God of Love, Peace & Justice?