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Our finite minds are incapable of understanding every dimension of such a dilemma. Old Testament passages like those under consideration in this study even led some people in church history, such as Marcion of Sinope in the second century, to conclude that the Old Testament Yahweh was a different deity from the Father of Jesus Christ depicted in the New Testament.

Although few professing Christians today would go that far, these parts of the Old Testament surely cause significant discomfort and embarrassment to many. We maintain, however, that there is no genuine conflict between the Old and New Testaments in terms of their understanding of God, and that the suggestion that there is reflects a bad reading of both Testaments. It is true that the revelation of God in the Bible is progressive, and our understanding of the nature of God becomes clearer as the grand-narrative of Scripture unfolds.

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This is particularly obvious when we look at the concept of God as three in one, commonly referred to as the doctrine of the Trinity. In the Old Testament the idea that God is three persons yet one is barely hinted at. In the New Testament, however, it becomes clear, although it remains a mystery that cannot be neatly explained or formulated. Likewise, it would be equally wrong to suggest that the God of the New Testament is not capable of righteous judgement. The Old Testament presents God as the One who is both just and loving see Exodus , Psalm and Psalm for example , and this perfect balance is also seen in the character of God as revealed in Christ John Even in the accounts of mass killings in the Old Testament we see both the justice and grace of God as His judgement falls on the rebellious but those who have faith are saved.

This same pattern is continued in the teaching of Jesus, who spoke both of salvation and of judgement see the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 for example. Throughout the New Testament epistles this perfect unity of justice and love in the character of God is consistently seen, so that John could say in his first epistle that God is both light meaning truth and love see 1 John and Neither Christ nor His apostles seemed to have any concerns about the veracity of the Old Testament accounts of these mass killings, showing that they firmly believed that the God of the Old Testament was the same God in whom they trusted.

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The mass killings recorded in the Old Testament are exceptional cases, and have certain factors in common, as the following table shows:. Divine judgement — they are all judgements of God against extreme sin. Time to repent — they are all preceded by long periods of opportunity to repent.

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Witness to God — during the time of opportunity there was knowledge available to the people that enabled them to know about God. Salvation through faith — people who had faith in God and were innocent before Him were always provided with a means of salvation. Their families were saved with them just as the children of those who were judged died with them. Someone is saved in each case except apparently the Amalekites. God will judge fairly — once again God initiates the judgement, but in this case the outcome will be more than physical death.

The consequences will be either eternal punishment or eternal blessing Revelation Time to repent — God is now patiently waiting, giving people an opportunity to repent 2 Peter Salvation through faith — There is salvation for any who will repent and trust in Christ for salvation Acts Despite all that has been said in this article, many readers are likely to remain deeply troubled by the thought of the mass killing of the Canaanites, as in fact this author is.

It is always worthwhile pausing when we feel such revulsion to ask why we feel it. Is it wrong for us to feel this way? Does it reflect a lack of faith in God?


There would appear to be two possible origins of the concern that we feel, and that these two origins will lead to very different results:. For those who have come to know Him and to trust in Him through Jesus Christ this is an indisputable fact. If this is the origin of our disquiet then it will lead us to a deep concern for those who do not know God and a commitment to mission both at home and abroad.

As we reflect on the judgement of God against the Canaanites in the time of Joshua, we will realise that a greater judgement is yet to come and that those who have not come to faith in God will face a worse fate than the Canaanites. In the meantime we can bring our discomfort to God and confess that we cannot lay it to rest, confident that He does not reject our questions so long as they are motivated by a genuine desire to know Him more fully again Habakkuk serves as a helpful example.

According to Scripture, all sin must be judged and every person deserves death and eternal punishment. If we refuse to accept this truth then we are in grave danger, because we too are rejecting God and we will face His judgement. We must repent of our stubbornness and pride and call out to God for mercy. If we do, we will find it because of Christ.

We would do well to heed the warning of the writer of Hebrews:.

This lecture examines some of the issues we need to consider. What have you been thinking about?

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  8. The Amalekites annihilated by Saul 1 Samuel 15 The first three examples are similar in that there was no human agent involved — in each case it was God, or an angel of God, who carried out the mass killings directly. This argument is advanced in one of two ways: a. The Israelites carried out mass killings but were mistaken in believing that God had commanded it This argument suggests that the mass killings were a carryover from a pagan way of understanding God.

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    The mass killings never actually happened Proponents of this view suggest that the accounts of mass killings are not contemporaneous to the events themselves but were written later in the history of Israel, during the period of the kings, by scribes who were witnessing the ill effects on the nation of idolatry involving Canaanite deities.

    Judgement agent. Time to repent. Salvation through faith. While the ark was being built 1 Peter John NIV God. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm NIV reliability truth. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John NIV faith life. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm NIV trust fear praise.

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    For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs NIV wisdom. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

    James NIV salvation evil conversion. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy NIV suffering life food. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.

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    You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. This can be seen in Acts , where we read that when Paul and Barnabas preached in a city of Turkey, pagans claimed they were gods incarnate. To a christian, God had to take human form to understand temptation and human suffering, but the concept is not based on any clear words of Jesus. This is expressed in the verse:. When a believer sins, he may come before God in sincere repentance to receive forgiveness. Indeed, the offer to humble oneself before God and be saved is made to all humankind.

    Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.

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    Biblically, people can receive forgiveness of sins through sincere repentance sought directly from God. This is true at all times and in all places. There has never been a need for the so-called inter cessionary role Jesus plays in attaining atonement. The facts speak for themselves. There is no truth to the Christian belief that Jesus died for our sins and salvation is only through Jesus. What about the salvation of people before Jesus?

    Christians claim that in the birth of Jesus, there occurred the miracle of the incarnation of God in the form of a human being. To say that God became truly a human being invites a number of questions. Let us ask the following about the man-God Jesus. What happened to his foreskin after his circumcision Luke ? Did it ascend to heaven, or did it decompose as with any human piece of flesh?

    During his lifetime what happened to his hair, nails, and blood shed from wounds?