Was It Morally Right for God...?
Reprinted from _The_Firm_Foundation_....
WAS IT MORALLY RIGHT FOR GOD TO ORDER THE KILLING OF THE CANAANITES?
The Bible teaches that God never does anything wrong. God is
never out of control but always does things consistent with his
holy and just nature. "Now therefore let the fear of Jehovah
be upon you, take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with
Jehovah our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of bribes"
(2 Chron. 19:7). There must be good explanation when God orders
the death of people, some of them women and innocent children.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CANAANITES
Those who question the ethics of God concerning the destruction
of the Canaanites, or any other judicial decision made by God,
fail to take into account six things:
1. They ignore the reason given for the destruction of wicked
people, "that they teach you not to do after their abominations
which they have done unto their sons" ([ref001]Dt. 20:18
2. The only way a person can accuse God of wrong is to be equal
with God. No mortal can make the same judgments God makes because
he does not have God's view of things or his knowledge.
3. The Canaanites were grossly immoral. The justice of God demands
punishment for sin. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom.
6:23). God must show his righteousness in punishing the wicked
or violate his own nature ([ref002]Rom. 3:23-27
4. A person would have to be omniscient to know that what happened
to the innocent children of guilty parents was not the best thing
that could have happened. The alternative here may be to grow
to adulthood and become malignant blights in the society of men
like their parents.
5. Punishment here may be in recognition of what the Canaanites
had earned. When it became clear they were past redemption, their
6. Punishment was deserved by the Canaanites, whereas it was not
in the case of the Holocaust--which was only a vendetta by Hitler
and the Nazis against the Jews.
It was dedication to continual wickedness that marked the Canaanites
for extermination. The scriptures uphold the justice and righteousness
of God even in his command to eradicate the Canaanites.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart,
dost thou go to possess their land; but for the wickedness of
these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before
thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto
thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ([ref003]Dt. 9:5).
God's call for Israel to destroy "the Hittite, and the Amorite,
the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite"
was not traced to the Jews' moral superiority or their number,
but to fulfill his promise to Abraham and his seed. God was preserving
a lineage through which the Messiah would come and all nations
There had been a patient waiting from Abraham's time for the
sin of the Amorites to reach its full measure. "But in the
fifth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity
of the Amorites is not yet full" ([ref004]Gen. 15:16
The Canaanites were singled out for severe treatment to prevent
Israel and the rest of the world from being corrupted. "Of
the cities of these peoples... thou shalt save alive nothing that
breatheth... that they teach you not to do after all their abominations,
which they have done unto their gods; so would ye sin against
Jehovah your God" ([ref005]Dt. 20:16-18
). When people burn their children in honor of false gods,
practice sodomy, bestiality, and all forms of wickedness, the
land itself begins to vomit them out ([ref006]Lev. 18:25-30
). The modern world would do well to heed the warning ([ref007]Rom. 8:22
). Objection to the fate of these nations is really an objection
to the highest manifestation of the goodness of God. Greene likens
this action on God's part, not to doing evil that good may come,
but doing good in spite of certain evil consequences, just as
a surgeon does not refrain from amputating a gangrenous limb,
even though in so doing he cannot help cutting off healthy flesh.
A husband agrees to abort a tubular pregnancy. The purpose of
the abortion is not to take the life of the child, but to save
the life of the mother; besides the child could not survive in
any case. The doctor knows that in destroying cancer cells healthy
cells will be destroyed. His purpose is not to kill good cells
but bad ones; yet in trying to save the person from the spread
of cancer, good is destroyed, but it could not have survived regardless.
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning
a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If
that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil,
I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And
at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning
a kingdom, to build and to plant it: If it do evil in my sight,
that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith
I said I would benefit them ([ref008]Jer.
Canaan had a forty-year countdown. They heard of the events in
Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and what happened to the kings
who opposed Israel along the way. We know they were aware of such
events, for Rahab confessed that these same events had terrorized
Jericho and that she, as a result, had placed her faith in the
God of the Hebrews ([ref009]Josh. 2:10-14
). The destruction of the Canaanites was based on the same
principle by which the whole world was judged in the universal
flood and that by which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were
judged. Usually those who object to these events are those who
deny compatibility of the doctrine of eternal destruction with
the mercy and love of God. God's character and the acts he requires
are fully consistent with everything that both Testaments teach
us to expect in our God. The problem usually centers in a deficiency
in our view of things and our inability to properly grasp the
whole of the subject.
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