One of the challenges of reading the Old Testament is gaining an understanding of the Canaanite genocide. When the nation of Israel went into the Promised Land of Canaan, God commanded them to kill all of the people living there, including women and children. they were to show them no mercy
Most people see this as an expression of the judgment of God on these people for their pagan beliefs, practices (including child sacrifice), and sins.
A few questions surface:
- Is the God of the New Testament the same as the God of the Old Testament? Jesus came full of ‘grace and truth’. To the woman taken in adultery, he didn’t stone her, but showed her mercy, while telling her to “Go and sin no more”. Was God harsher in Old Covenant times?
- What about the love and mercy of God? Is this shown indiscriminately?
- Did these people have an opportunity to place their faith in God and be preserved from judgment OR were they destined to be punished this way?
- How do we reconcile this with Jesus’ teaching on ‘loving our enemies’, do good to all people, and to avoid violence?
What do you think? Why not make a comment on this blog post and let me know. It will be interesting to see the conversation that develops.
For those wanting to delve into this controversial topic a little further, you might want to check out the book Show Them No Mercy, which presents four different views on this issue, along with debate between the views.