God of War: God of Hope
by Anthony Weber
- God implemented justice on a particularly evil culture. In doing so, God was not forcing His law onto every other nation; He was showing He was a God cared about the victims of evil.
- God waited hundreds of years before implementing His justice; he carefully warned the targeted cultures; and he drove out most of the people ahead of time.
- The language of destruction in the war texts primarily contain language of displacement: God was destroying a horrific cultural system, even while the individuals within it were embraced by the Israelite community.
- The people involved in the wars were the cultural gatekeepers (priests and military), not the civilians.
- The rules of war reflected the principle of lex talionis, the command that the punishment should not exceed the crime.
- This is not a history of genocide, but of the salvation of an area of the world from specific cultures that were some of the most brutal on record in human history.
So why does all of this matter to us today?
God is offended by evil, as we should be. Actions have consequences. For the sake of the world, at some point someone must step in and stop evil and promote good. When we read or see the atrocities of the Holocaust, do we not cheer that someone intervened to stop that? When we read about genocide in Rwanda, or Saddam’s torture rooms, of Kony’s enslavement of children, isn’t there a part of us that rises up and says, “Won’t someone do something?”
If we were to find out that God ordered the defeat of Nazi Germany, or ordered intervention into the genocide in Rwanda, or had a plan for how to intervene in nations the commit atrocious human rights violations against their own people, would we suddenly become critical of God and say, “I thought you were a God of love?” I think we would be glad to know that Justice is part of God’s nature too, and that He was also offended by what was going on…
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