We ended the last post on the question of how to make sense of Old Testament passages in which God speaks to His people, ordering them to kill and destroy the neighbouring communities?
Of course, the immediate question that arises is to ask who issued this instruction? Did God’s really speak these words to the people? Or is it more the case that God’s people – human as they were and easily prone to revenge – presumed the Divine would uphold their grievance against those groups who had fought against them?
True, the cultic practices of these other groups were often contrary to the purposes of God and cited by many as an abonimation against the Creator. However – fast forward two thousand years – and we encounter a seemingly different God in the person of Jesus Christ who loves, forgives and restores people everywhere, irrespective of whether they are Jewish or Gentile.
Indeed, it is during this time that Jesus outlines and affirms that God’s ultimate intention for the Jewish people is for them to show through their relationship with the Divine that their Creator’s love extends to all whom God has made. No favourites. No outcasts. Just broken people on whom God’s love and favour rests.
How different is the type of thinking about God (as revealed in the person of Jesus) to the One in which the Divine acts out of fear, instructing his followers to destroy other people groups. Indeed, this desire to exact revenge on other groups seems to owe more to the wanton actions of those within Israel who perceived that anyone outside of the community posed a threat and should be destroyed?
Did God really order the destruction of other people? Or is it the case that God’s people presumed this was what God wanted? After all, for God to be on their side, he must want the same outcomes as they do, surely?