"The cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God."
- Andrew Dickson White
WHY THIS CHAPTER?
Some people view God in the Old Testament as harsh and vengeful, and in the New Testament as patient and loving.
Skeptics conclude this perceived inconsistency to be proof that the Bible is not what it claims; not divine and of plainly fallible construction.
The idea that two different Gods are being portrayed is in error. Such perception likely stems from failing to observe God's love in the Old Testament, or not seeing his judgment in the New.
How could a "merciful" God order Israel to destroy certain peoples and cities?
"I am halfway through Genesis, and quite appalled by the disgraceful behavior of all the characters involved, including God."
- J.R. Ackerley
The Old Testament reveals God ordered Israel to attack and destroy certain peoples and cities. In every such case, the people or city targeted for destruction had been rebuked by God hundreds of years before and urged to repent. As their Creator, God was not so much being cruel and unusual in punishing them through war, but gracious and patient in giving them multiple generations in which to seek his forgiveness.
Furthermore, God's specific punishment of these peoples and cities through the use of the armies of the nation of Israel was accomplishing something else. It was working to bring Israel to the place, condition, and circumstances in which the Messiah (mankind's way of salvation) would arrive. Even Israel was not above being punished by destruction or captivity by other nations when it was found in unrepentant and persistent rebellion against the Lord. That happened numerous times.
Understand that it is not God's intent to exercise infinite patience with humanity, or tolerate limitless rebellion against his authority. That is a lesson which is taught in at least half the books of the Bible. In his own words of wisdom, writings by Thomas Jefferson, now found on the walls of his memorial in Washington, D.C., mindfully warn our own forgetful nation of this limit to God's patience:
Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.
Isn't religion to blame for most of history's killings?
The authority of God