Faith and War - New and Old Testament

After Sinai, the Jews march on Canaan. They kill lots of people, including women and children, destroy whole tribes, lay waste to cities and tear them down to the ground... A lot of people don’t like this part of the Old Testament—they don’t like the Old Testament God, the vengeful, angry God, the God who demands His people go to war and wipe out whole civilizations. They compare Him with the New Testament’s kind, forgiving God and decide they’ll just stick to reading half the Bible (or none). But is that really what those Old Testament stories tell us? Did God change, as some people say? Did our perception of Him change, as I used to say? Or are we just being selective in our reading and our understanding?

The God who gives us the Ten Commandments isn’t a vengeful God—more like a wise and loving God giving rules for society that have proven so powerful we still try to follow them today. The God who led the Israelites out of Egypt wasn’t vengeful—he could have totally wiped out the Egyptians, but instead he lets them continue in their own land and leads his people elsewhere. But the God of the conquering tribes and the invasion of Canaan?

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