Is God guilty of genocide? Part II

It seems that the internet accusations continue unabated: one must be irrational to believe that God could be justified in ordering the Israelite’s conquest of Canaan. Justified, rational, and warranted Christian believers must marvel at the lack of justification offered for this claim. Apparently, the accusers feel the allegations are self-evidently true, given that justification for the claim is rarely, if ever, attached.

Nevertheless, part I of this series demonstrated that, logically, God was not unjust for His role in the conquest of Canaan. Not only was God found true and every man a liar, but it appears to me that resting in the foregoing conclusion alone is itself misleading, and perhaps misrepresentative of the God of Scripture’s character, for God’s act of ordering the conquest of Canaan is in actuality a full measure of grace and lovingness on His part.

The God of the Bible is not a testamental Sybil. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, which necessarily entails both testaments of Scripture. How, then, are we to think of this Old Testament God who orders the wholesale destruction of sinners? And make no mistake, it’s wholesale destruction. The Canaan episodes are but first-reader accounts of judgment when balanced against the worldwide flood of Noah. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Scita > Scienda’s continuing series is a virtual catalogue of God’s grace in light of the conquests and the historical background in which they occurred. It comes highly recommended with the certified Areopagus seal of approval, and no Christian or skeptic should maintain an opinion on the subject without studying it or something very similar.

To grace then. It’s sometimes omitted that god was longsuffering in His ultimate judgment of the Canaanites. Centuries prior to Israel’s conquest, the lord spoke to Abraham:

Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sins of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. Gen 15:13-16

The text is clear that God postponed the destruction of the Canaanites for roughly four hundred years, until the sins of the Amorites reached its full measure. By any definition, that’s longsuffering.

Now, the Canaanites did in fact reach their full measure of sin. Theirs was a horridly depraved and sinful culture, even to the offering of their children in the fire. Incidentally, am I the only one who detects the irony of the skeptics’ concern for children here? At any rate, we would not criticize modern military action to prevent such atrocity, have engaged in it justifiably in the past, and probably could do so as we speak in places such as Darfur. Nonetheless, these types of actions are considered acts of mercy, no less on God’s part as ours—actually, infinitely more, given that He is altogether holy.

But that’s not the full measure of God’s grace in this matter. The full measure is theological. What is it exactly that happens to children when they die, according to Christianity? The church is split with regard to this question, but either way a genuine picture of God’s grace emerges. Clearly, if there is an age of accountability, Canaanite children under this age were translated directly to heaven upon death. Presumably, this would not be their fate had they lived. How are we to not recognize the grace of God in the lives of these Canaanite children? Moreover, the women who survived the bloodshed were ushered directly into God’s earthly kingdom. At times, grace is cloaked in trauma.

If the age of accountability is not a deliverance of Scripture, then the Canaanite children slaughtered would receive the same fate as their unregenerate parents. How are we to recognize grace in this outcome? The answer is sought and found in the doctrines of heaven and hell. Since I should develop properly Christian doctrines of heaven and hell here before discussing them deeply, let me just say this: hell is worse for some than it is for others as any punishment in hell is meted in exacting and precise commensuration with the sin debt owed: no more, no less. For the unregenerate Canaanite falling by the Israeli sword, the forfeiture of years of actual and accountable sin by virtue of this judgment is a direct act of God’s common grace whereby He limits the sin debt owed by those who perished. In the case of the children, supposing there’s no age of accountability, this measure of grace is astounding on the part of God.

Perhaps our humanistic culture has influenced us to think that this life is all there is, and any disruption of unfettered pleasure on this earth is an evil. Or, in the case of Christians, this life is somehow the truer, more important life that must be prolonged at all costs. Perhaps North American and European prosperity has blinded us to the true evils on this planet. In this, we value this life above all else and, in so doing, deny the very God that created us for an eternity with Him. How sin persuades us to exchange the substitute for the genuine article, the schlock novel for a Crime and Punishment, this fleeting realm of degradation and becoming for the realm of never-ending heavenly lights—and we do so all along cursing a holy God openly for acting justly. It’s as if we’re cursing the rehabilitation doctor that denies us our heroin. The church needs an Amos.

But the Bible screams that this life is not the sum total of existence: I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy with the glory that will be revealed in us. Rom 8:18. Does any Christian truly think those Canaanite children are presently accusing God of injustice? Or, rather, are they endlessly and eternally expressing their gratitude to Him for the Israelite conquest of Canaan, where God sovereignly chose to intrude into their lives and sever them from their life in bondage to sin? If you listen closely, you might hear them joining in with that celestial choir, worshipping Him in the glorious, great beyond for his inexplicably wonderful grace, singing:

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty…

 

 

 

10 comments

  1. I sense a hearty engagement of non-deists is available for the price of a comment.

    “It comes highly recommended with the certified Areopagus seal of approval, and no Christian or skeptic should maintain an opinion on the subject without studying it or something very similar.”

    wowww….um, thanks….(gulp) that’s a high privilege and a high responsibility.

    “hell is worse for some than it is for others as any punishment in hell is meted in exacting and precise commensuration with the sin debt owed: no more, no less.”

    I would like to see some exposition of this. My personal view has been that all sin merits infinite wrath, and thus infinite separation from God; that the pain of hell, most of all, is in our souls’ unsuitedness for that complete and permanent separation. Beyond that, I have few specific thoughts. Perhaps my view is unjust in its vagueness.

    “this fleeting realm of degradation and becoming”

    A feast of phrasing.

    “If you listen closely, you might hear them…”

    Now, we see dimly; but then, face to face.
    And He will wipe every tear from their eyes. And there will be no more night…

    Very strong writing, Marc. You seem to have a bent for creating pictures that stay in the mind.

  2. Quixote says:

    “I would like to see some exposition of this. My personal view has been that all sin merits infinite wrath, and thus infinite separation from God;”

    Will comply. Nevertheless, I’m not sensing the tension between your statement and mine that you seem to be. A definition here and there will clean it up.

  3. […] the place she came from, no matter what. Her Redeemer’s given His life in the battle against all the evils threatening her. She has a short moon of preparation beneath His protection while she makes her peace with what has […]

  4. Do feel free to define, then. Hardly necessitates a post or your indulgence of my demanding-brat side, in that case. 😉

  5. Karla says:

    Very good handling of this topic.

  6. Andrew John says:

    There’s a good ebook that’s free to help pastors and their wives with discouragement and burnout. You can find it at http://www.stoppastorburnout.com. It’s quite helpful.

  7. TitforTat says:

    AH…..Its a wonderful web we weave… 😉

  8. Marc, apologies for the large # of pingbacks. wp.com and I had a misunderstanding over how not to do that, and the result is spammy 2.0 rudeness. Please do feel free to delete their overbearing presence from the comments lineup.

  9. […] has already alluded to the belief which says that children who know neither good nor evil are not under the […]

  10. whoah this blog is magnificent i love studying your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You realize, lots of individuals are looking
    round for this information, you could help them greatly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*