God Behaving Badly? (part 4)

In response to questions about violence in the OT, here is a continuing series of 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 1part 2, and part 3.

7.  A conflict between the God of Israel and the pagan gods.  

During ancient times, every god was a local one.  The superiority of your god above those of your neighbor was your god's ability to defend you and help you conquer territory.  A god who could not defend his people or conquer their enemies was no god worth worshipping. 

We see this when we read the book of Exodus in the plagues of Egypt.  The plagues are often seen as a judgment upon Pharaoh, and they were, but they were ultimately a demonstration of God’s superiority over the Egyptian deities.  Each plague struck at the various realms of the Egyptian pantheon: the Nile, the sky, the earth, the cattle, etc.  Even the final plague against the first-born struck at Egypt's living deity—the Pharaoh, proving that the God of Moses was superior to the gods of the Egyptians. 

Joshua’s defeat of Canaan was a not only a military conquest between ancient tribes, but a victory of God above all the pagan gods.  Why did Rahab and Gibeon turn from their heritage and embrace Israel?  Both knew of the previous victories of Israel against Egypt and all those who came against them in the wilderness, and were persuaded that the God of Israel must be true and more powerful than their local deities.  He was to be worshipped because He could defend His people and conquer the gods of Egypt and their neighbors. 

In every battle that Joshua fights, divine aid is always present, subtly present in some battles, dramatically evident in others.  No warrior of Israel, no defeated opponent, no reader of these ancient stories, can escape the hand of God in every victory.  

It is God's presence that establishes His superiority in the hearts of Israel, during the conquest and the generations to come, and in the midst of the inhabitants of Canaan, shattering the confidence they place in their own tribal gods.  

to be continued...
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