The God of the Bible is a God of love, forgiveness and care. Yet there are passages that show a part of Him we would not associate with a God of love and compassion. More than once He tells the Israelites, ‘Kill them all.’ We want to discuss those examples to understand them better:
- The Amalekites: ‘Write this on a scroll… because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ 1
- The Canaanites: ‘My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.’ 2
- The Midianites: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.” 3 After the campaign, Moses told the Israelites to kill all the married women and boys. 4
When we read these passages superficially, they seem strange. Did the same God not send Jonah to preach to the wicked city of Nineve? 5 Did He not save that city from annihilation when they repented and changed their ways? Why did God want these nations annihilated instead of calling them to repentance?
It is God’s judgement on these nations that causes His enemies, under the leadership of the devil, to deride and ridicule Him. For example, someone as notorious as Richard Dawkins (notorious for his lack of Bible insight), says about God, ‘The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: …unjust, unforgiving control-freak, vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, …racist, infanticidal, genocidal …capriciously malevolent bully.’ 6
Can we, as believers, vindicate God’s honour? Can we justify His actions? Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the Book of Truth.7 There is no way we can try to skirt around these Bible passages and give some vague answers. We need to examine them critically and come to a conclusion. It is important because the enemies of Christ, like Dawkins, insist that they have God in a fix. He is guilty of genocide and that makes Him a cosmic tyrant who does not deserve loyalty or worship.
We will discuss the three nations chronologically as they appear in the Bible in the next few weeks. There are interesting facts that are often overlooked in the Bible’s account. This will lead us to some startling conclusions that are completely opposite to what people might think.
- Exodus 17:14
- Exodus 23:23; Deuteronomy 7:1-5
- Numbers 31:1
- Numbers 31:17-18
- Jonah 1:1
- Richard Dawkins, The God Hypothesis, Bantam Press, 2006, p 31
- Daniel 10:21