God Behaving Badly? (part 3)

In response to questions about violence in the OT, I have posted several thoughts I have compiled.  The title of the posts is taken from Evangelical Bible professor Dr. David Lamb's, God Behaving Badly.  Here is part 1 and part 2.

4.  Hyperbole:  I am sure you have used hyperbole in your speech this week.  Your football team killed their opponent this past weekend.  Maybe it rained cats and dogs at your house. Or perhaps you almost died laughing at the antics of your six year old, at least you weren’t hopping mad.  

Some Bible scholars believe that may be what is going on with some of the extreme sounding language present to us in these OT books.  The phrases “destroy all that breathed” and "they utterly destroyed" have counterparts in other Ancient Near Eastern languages of the same period.  It was common to use this as a figure of speech indicating total victory and conquest of another group. 

To defend this position, you only have to look at the results of the Israelite conquest.  The peoples that Israel was said to have destroyed completely were never destroyed completely. They continue to populate the area in smaller numbers, but are never completely gone. 

5.  Act of Judgment upon the Canaanites:  Each one of our sins has consequences, and will eventually lead to death.  Society’s sins have consequences leading to death.  The form this takes is unknown to us, but consequences can not be escaped forever, they are a natural result of continued abuse.  If I willingly took poison into my body on a daily, the consequence of an early demise would be certain.

In Gen 15:16, Abraham is given the Promised Land, yet God tells him that he can not take direct possession of the land because the sin of the Amorite is not complete.  God is merciful, and longsuffering, and increases the time of the Canaanites to find Him and repent of their lifestyle. 

 From Abraham to Joshua is about 500 years, and rather than turn toward the true and living God during this period of 15 generations, the people of land grew increasingly wicked. 

We get a sense of their sins, based on the list of actions that God warns Israel about in the Torah such as bestiality, incest, child sacrifice, etc. 

As harsh as it may seem to us, by using Joshua’s conquest to conquer these people ended the spread of their evil before it further destroyed themselves and the peoples around them. 

6.  Protection of the holiness of Israel:  The protection of the holiness of Israel is the opposite side of the coin of the judgment on the sins of the Canaanites.  The theme of holiness is consistent throughout the Pentateuch.  God people are to be separate, different, consecrated to Him.  Israel was entering a land of pollution, temptation, and strange deities.  Regardless of their future actions, they needed a clean start in this new land to build a nation dedicated to God with no hindrance to holiness. 

The Law itself was designed to safeguard that holiness, and display God’s mercy and grace throughout the world.  God’s ultimate intent and plan is to prepare mankind for the coming of Christ.  Israel was chosen as the nation that would bring the light of Christ into the world, yet Christ would not come from an impure people. 

Holiness within Israel must be sustained and grown until a young virgin, the endpoint of that progress toward holiness, was born into the world to be chosen as the holy vessel whereby God could take flesh and enter humanity.  

...to be continued.
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