Throughout our reading of Joshua, the question that I have been asked over and over is how could God order the killing of whole cities? What about the innocent women and children that had no choice about the sins that were being committed? How could God be a God of love and order such an act?
This is a difficult and “age-old” question. Many scholars – much brighter than me – have attempted to answer it. Here goes…
First you never doubt in the dark what you know in the light. Here’s what we KNOW about God and His character:
• God is perfect. He never has sinned. He cannot sin.
As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. Psalm 18:30
• God exudes love completely. No one has ever loved like God loves. It’s His heart for people.
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:7-10
• God is also perfectly just. He’s the standard for right and wrong. He is our moral compass.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5
• God’s justice cannot tolerate sin. That’s why the cross was so ugly: God poured out His wrath on His Son bearing our sin.
Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. Isaiah 59:1-2
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24
OK, now if we know those things about God… why the killing? Again, this isn’t easy to explain, but here are the reasons:
1) The people inhabiting those lands were wicked and unrepentant. They were so wicked that they were burning their own children to gods. We don’t know about God’s attempt to reach them and the their rejection of Him – but we know from the Bible that God is evident in creation and all men are responsible for their actions before Him. (Romans 1:20)
2) The only way was to eliminate them and start over. There is history of this with the flood in Genesis 6 and Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. It was God’s decision that the only way was to destroy them and start over. We must trust God in this.
What about the “innocent” women and children?
1) First, we don’t know how innocent they really were. They may have (and probably did) participated in the evil practices of their fathers and husbands.
2) Their sins were passed from generation to generation and the only way to eliminate it was destroy them. They were taught by their fathers to do these wicked things – much like some today who are taught that “hate crimes” will make them holy.
3) We must remember, that although it doesn’t seem fair, our children pay for our sin. It’s a fact of life. You can see this evidenced in abuse, addictions, even atheism today.
4) Lastly, why are we blaming God? We always seem to default to that. The blame should lie on the sinners, not the righteous God whose standard was clear and heart was pure.
I hope these observations make sense. My prayer is that when you can’t trace God’s hand – or fully understand His Ways – that you will trust His heart!
Posted by: Tim Parsons