Is God Guilty of Genocide?

The Gospel Coalition | 11/18/2019 | Michael Kruger
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Armenia. Cambodia. Rawanda. Bosnia. Darfur. All well-known modern examples of genocide where entire people groups were wiped out (or almost wiped out). These are awful tragedies, worthy of our sorrow and grief.

And yet, ask the critics, is the God of the Bible really any different? When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, was it not God who commanded them to wipe out all the indigenous people (Deut. 20:17)? Is God not guilty of genocide?

Bumper-sticker - Quote - Difference - God - Adolf

It makes me think of the famous bumper-sticker quote, “The only difference between God and Adolf Hitler is that God is more proficient at genocide.”

Admittedly, this is a difficult, complex issue. We feel obligated, understandably, to get God “off the hook” for the deaths of so many people. Many possibilities come to mind for how that might be done. Maybe we’ve misread the passage. Maybe it’s just symbolic. Maybe the Israelites misunderstood God’s command.

God - Hook - Hook - Issue - Culture

But I don’t think we need to get God off the hook. I don’t think he wants off the hook. As painful as this issue is, it highlights what we, and our culture, need to hear more than ever: God is holy, people are sinful, the world is broken, and his judgment is just.

If we are to rightly understand the destruction of the Canaanites, several principles must be remembered.

Human - Planet - God - Judgment—not - Canaanites

First, every human on the planet deserves God’s judgment—not just the Canaanites. Right now, all humans everywhere—from the kind old lady next door to the hardened criminal on death row—are all deeply sinful. And they were born this way. Since birth, all human beings stand guilty, not only for their own sins but for the sin of Adam which has been passed down to them (Rom 5:12). And the penalty for sin is clear: “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Rather than being surprised...
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