by John Hendryx
Visitor's Question: Why does the Bible condone genocide? Was that just the Old Testament "god" who demanded that? It is clear that in the book of Joshua, God commanded the Jews to utterly wipe out people groups that inhabited Canaan. If this is so, why didn't Jesus denounce him? Christians often try to avoid this question, it seems to me.
Response: Actually, I am surprised that it should be avoided as it gives us one of the clearest pictures of one of the most important truths in the Bible: That not only did God take the lives of those he ordered the Israelites to kill (the Canaanites) – He also takes the life of everyone on earth. The peoples of Canaan were perhaps dealt out the death penalty earlier than they may have expected; but in essence, their lot was no different than ours. We are all subject to death. Death, as the Bible reveals, is the just penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden (Genesis 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12-14). So not only may God take life as he sees fit – he does take the life of every last human on earth (see Heb. 9:27). We should not lose the shock of this fearful truth: death is not natural, it is not a normal process of time and chance, it is not a necessary mechanism of evolution. Humans were created to live, and the fact that they do not bespeaks a terrifying truth – we are all born under divine wrath and judgment.