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August 11, 2007 / Daniel

Is God Unjust?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about God’s justice in destroying the Canaanites in the Old Testament. A couple of years ago I preached a sermon on the subject and since the subject was on my mind, I thought that I would post parts of my manuscript over the next week. Let me know what you think.

The Justice of God in Destroying the Canaanites

Is God unjust? Today many folks often seem to think so. Skeptics complain that the God of the Old Testament is harsh and capricious. In doing so, they cast doubt on the validity of Scripture. The biblical God frequently stands in stark contrast to the God of popular opinion. We like to think that God is just a kind old man with a long white beard, who sits in heaven wringing His hands with worry, uncertain of how to deal with the ills of humanity. Our mental image of God needs refocused. We need to reexamine the Bible to develop a better, fuller understanding of God. This God is much bigger than we could ever imagine. We cannot tame Him. We cannot make Him fit into our narrow modern box. We must see Him for who He really is.

One of the most problematic areas of Scripture that modern critics have used to cast doubt on the Bible is found in the Old Testament book of Joshua. Joshua describes the Israelite conquest of the land of Canaan. In Joshua, God gives his people several great victories over the area enemy nations. Here they carry out the ban that God gave the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy.

Through Moses, God told the children of Israel to utterly destroy these nations—to show them no mercy. This resounds with unfairness to our modern ears. In the 20th century, we witnessed several genocides in Germany, Rwanda, and Bosnia. It rings hollow to us that a loving, just God would ever command such a brutal destructive means of warfare.

The Main Question

For those for us who accept the Bible as an accurate revelation of God’s character, we must wrestle with the justness of such a command. Is God righteous in commanding and authorizing the nation of Israel to completely destroy the Canaanite people? Or is such a command unfair? To answer this question, we must examine the command in Deuteronomy to see why God is commanding the destruction of the Canaanites and His purposes in his actions toward Israel.

More to come…

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