What are we to do with a difficult passage of Scripture? Let’s get a general frame work so we can proceed first.
We must acknowledge God is God and we are not. He really owes no man an explanation. As difficult as some things are to accept that are in the Bible we must resign to the fact that we are not the ones in charge here or call the shots. In Jeremiah it is described in this way
“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:4
God owns it all, everything in Heaven and on earth is really at his disposal to do whatever he pleases, the Psalm says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1
Why is this difficult for most people? Why has it been difficult for me to grasp myself at times? Well, we want to be the boss of our lives, name one person who’s favorite thing to do is follow directions or take orders from someone else, and I will name a person who does not actually exist. It’s human for us to want to be the ruler and authority, this is nothing new, in the Garden of Eden, the woman tried to be the man and the man tried to be God.
We inherited a sinful nature and often times get irritated at the idea that we are not the one’s in charge.
Now, lets ask. Why did God command the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites? How could a loving God command such a thing?
Many people like to bring up “genocide” in the Bible as an an objection to believing in God or worshiping God. They evaluate God as though he were a corrupt human who was guilty of bloodshed and they at the very same time elevate themselves as being the judge of fair and good when they are not. None of us are capable of that privilige. None of us are the moral standard, God is.
I.) God owns us all, and owes us nothing.
A few things to note, God created every molecule and he sustains the entire universe. I’d ask a person this, “If you created the Universe, then why would you obey the dictates of your creatures over your own wishes?” After all, if God answered to us, then he would not be much of a GOD but more like a passive parent that gives into a spoiled child’s every wish and is afraid to set any boundaries.
God does lay out boundaries and rules though, he designed the universe to work a certain way like a the creator of the computer created his invention to operate.
Sin by one definition is going against the natural order and moral codes God has established. It does nothing to harm God to rebel really, it only hurts ourselves. He created rules to go by not for our restriction as much as our own benefit.
If you drive your car down the wrong way on the highway then do not be surprised by negative results. And do not be shocked if your car does not start if you end up deciding you know whats best by putting water in your gas tank just because it’s cheaper.
This does not surprise us though that their are instructions to cars or appliances, but it sure seems to shock us that God has any rules or operating manual for humanity.
God sets the way things work, and he sets the rules. He created all things and really every breath we are given is not owed to us but a gift.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:6
Get that? God owes no man or woman anything. I myself cannot demand God give me another day of life, although Im grateful he does. He can and has the right to end our lives at anytime and it is an act of mercy on His part if he does not. If you were to build or create something it is solely your right to do with that creation whatever you wish. When people try to apply human rules to God we run into a serious problem. God has told us, “thou shall not murder.” Why? The why is very important to ask. Who are we as mere humans to usurp God’s role to destroy a life?
James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
A lot of Bible critics say, “see the word of God is full of contradictions and God told the Israelites to commit genocide!”
I’m sure most people can grasp the concept that their boss at work has the privilege and authority to do what they cannot. Your boss has certain leeway you do not possess. Suppose the boss said not to do something at the job as a general rule of thumb but in one rare instance permitted an exception. Under that circumstance the boss has approved what normally is a prohibition.
We squirm at passages like this that we do not fully understand. We wonder how could God do this or command such a difficult and uncomfortable thing. I won’t say I fully understand all God does but then again I’m not expected to.
Numbers 33:55-56 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”
One reason was God knew these people would cause serious problems later on.
Deuteronomy 9:4-6 After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
The Lord said himself that the people were a wicked group of people, many ancient cultures practiced child sacrifices in their idol worship and their rituals, so lets not assume these people who God commanded the Israelites to destroy were a group of jolly good fellows.
Leviticus 18:21-25 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
There is a whole bucket list of other sins on these people’s guilt stained hands. They had years and years to get things in order and God decided to use his people as his instrument of judgement on this savage race of people who kept going on in their ways.
Leviticus 18:25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
Now for the record God does not command his people to do such actions in this day and age. In fact If someone were to say God commanded them to kill another sinner than I’d think they were either seriously mentally ill or under the influence of the devil himself. This is not God’s way of dealing with sinful people now. Although there will be a day where his patience runs on and his justice begins. He is alway both just and merciful, he is merciful to give people time to change, but just in the sense he will not leave the guilty unrepentant unpunished.
Some may say, “God changed and contradicts himself.” No, not true, God does not change but he has unfolded his redemptive plan of grace at the cross!
Every evil act, attitude, and sin ever committed is nailed to the cross because of Christ’s perfect life and sacrificial death on your behalf. And by the very power of God Christ was raised from the dead for the forgiveness of every sin committed. However, only those willing to receive it will obtain the deed of mercy and transformed life.
If God did not love sinful people, he would never have sent his son to suffer on a wooden cross and bleed the forgiveness and love of God. God on a cross, suffering in the skin of humanity.
People reject his love though everyday because they either feel “unworthy” or reverse, they do not see themselves as desperate sinners in need of mercy. The people who do not see their need, are truly the worst in need and in the most dangerous place.
Ephesians 2:6-9 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
No one can boast about a gift. If they do then they are ridiculous. And no one is entitled to a gift, its given freely at the descretion of the giver. So if people cannot blame God for not doing his part. If they refuse his solution he has provided.