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2.11.2006    |    God's ethnic cleansing?
One grave problem for modern readers of the Torah is that God's wrath was great, and He surely took it out on those who disobeyed Him. Of particular note is when His chosen people Israel are commanded to take over what became modern Israel, "Palestine", Jordan, and parts of Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon.

God's instructions are plain in Deuteronomy 7:
1 "When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, 2 and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction.
"You must devote them to complete destruction." Harsh times, one supposes, called for harsh measures? Later in Deuteronomy, in chapter 20, God clarifies what He meant by complete destruction:
16 But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God.
God also includes the "why": so that the Isaelites won't be taught those "abominable practices."

A modern term for one people killing all of another so that there will be no intermingling of ideas is ethnic cleansing. And yet it is God who is the author, in the plainest of terms. This isn't a quirk of translation. The essential meaning did not change from the original Hebrew.

This is where so-called mainline churches leave the room. Their God is love, don't you see, and would never ever countenance such a wicked thing as leaving alive "nothing that breathes." This is the same God that sent His only Son to die on the cross like a common criminal, without raising a finger to resist?

Short answer is "yes." God took pains from the creation through this very moment to show us how deadly serious He is. You may wish it were not so. You may claim that, somehow, God was a "vengeful" God in Old Testament times, then, somehow, went on some sort of a heavenly retreat with some Buddhists or somesuch, and became the God of love, who would not harm a fly.

No. Same God. Unchanging. What has changed is that we now think ourselves so smart, so modern, that we can assume that anything that happened thousands of years ago is, somehow, now better viewed through a modern lens.

Yes, it was ethnic cleansing. Why? I can only assume, based on the salvation history that's been revealed to us, that God had to set the stage for Israel and Judah, and thence for the coming of His Son, Jesus. Hence the need to enable the ancient Israelites to get what might euphemistically be termed a "clean title" to the land of Israel.

To the land promised by God for a particular people. For a particular purpose. His purpose; not ours.


Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for addressing this subject. I quoted your post liberally at my blog today. Peace.

4:24 PM, February 19, 2006  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.