Friday, August 5, 2016

Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God




We're troubled by God's commands for Israel to wipe out entire peoples. Why we should be encouraged.


Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God


We're troubled by God's commands for Israel to wipe out entire peoples. Why we should be encouraged.


There is genocide in the Bible. Scripture both describes the Israelites exterminating the Canaanites in cities like Jericho (Josh. 6:21), and also presents this as the command of God. This is what the Israelites are supposed to do when they enter the Promised Land and encounter its inhabitants: "devote them to complete destruction . . . and show no mercy to them" (Deut. 7:2, esv).

The Hebrew word for "devoting to destruction" is herem. It is not an ordinary kind of massacre but something sacred, a way of giving things totally to the Lord. It includes property and livestock as well as men, women, and children. And it has the effect of cleansing the land of abominations. The procedure looks very much like an ethnic cleansing demanded by the holiness of God.

Is this what holiness looks like? Is this what we are supposed to imagine when we read, "Be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44, ESV)? How can we possibly read and teach the genocide accounts in our churches today?

To answer that question, we have to go back to the narrative and our peculiar place in it. And we have to ask who "we" are, who are hearing the command.
Read more at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/july-august/gentiles-in-hands-of-genocidal-god.html

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