Cruelty In The Bible?
Did God really tell them to exterminate seven nations?
THE CLAIMED CRUELTY: After the Exodus he ordered the Israelites to exterminate the men, women, and children of seven nations and steal their land (Deuteronomy 7:1-2);
Should evil be stopped? Should evil be punished? Or should those who do evil be allowed to continue, facing no consequences? What do you think? If there is justice, then yes, those who do evil should be stopped and punished... whether they are individuals or nations.
As we normally do, let’s start by looking at the verses the hu-manist references, Deuteronomy 7:1-2:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. - Deuteronomy 7:1-2
God is telling Israel; go into the land that was generally known as Canaan. He will clear away the nations that are living in that land, using the Israelites to destroy them. Why does God do that? The answer in in Deuteronomy 9 in which God makes it clear that He is not giving Israel this land because they are such good (righteous) people, but because the people living there are wicked:
Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, "Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land," but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people. - Deuteronomy 9:4-6
God makes His point clear by repeating it. This has nothing to do with you Israel. He tells them: You (the people of Israel) have done nothing to deserve this land. You are not righteous. He is do-ing this because He promised it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the people who live there now are evil and wicked. Evil must be punished, and the time has come for this evil to be punished.
It was not unexpected. Over 500 years before this God told Abraham that the people living in this land were evil, and their wickedness would increase. God was going to wait, giving them 500 years to change their ways. What incredible grace and mercy!
God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, [Egypt] where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete. - Genesis 15:13-16
God tells Abraham what will happen, giving him a summary of what is coming. The Amorites were the major tribe living in what would be Canaan. God reveals that they are evil, and that their wick-edness will not decrease, but will grow. They had 500 years to change their ways, but they continued in their wickedness.
Was God's plan to destroy the people living in the land of Canaan cruel or harsh?
Not at all. It was incredibly merciful. They were wicked. In His incredible patience, love and mercy God had given them over 500 years to change their evil ways. That is a long time. However, they had only grown in wickedness. Moreover, while God was giving them time to change their ways, the Israelites were waiting... held in brutal captivity as slaves in Egypt.
Finally, the time comes. God's long-enduring patience has come to end. It has been a long, long time and the only change has been that evil increased. It is time to end the wickedness. The evil must be destroyed. God plans to use Israel to do this. However, notice in Deuteronomy 7:1-2, those evil nations are much stronger and more powerful than Israel. It is God who will bring victory. Israel cannot take any credit, nor be given honor for defeating them.
READ MORE: www.GotQuestions.com/Canaanites-extermination.html
Conclusion: God is not cruel; He was incredibly patient, full of grace and mercy. The final judgment, utter destruction, was the just and fair conse-quence of wickedness.
Next example: He [God] killed King Davids baby because of Davids adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 12:13-18);
Click here to learn what God was doing...
THE GOOD NEWS
Before you get the good news, you need to know the bad news. It's about you. God says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
Sin means disobeying God, aka breaking God's law. God is perfect and perfection is required to enter heaven. It's a standard none of us can achieve. We all fall short. For example, compare yourself with just one of the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie?
All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8. Or what about:
Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:
Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Have you done that?
You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...
Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true (believe), and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.