How do we as Christians understand Old Testament wars that include genocide?

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There is a very important question, a very, very important and sensitive question that asks, how should we as believers understand the genocides in the Old Testament. First, for the sake of argument, let's say that the God of the universe has the right to destroy all people. Because all have sinned against God, he has the right, with full justice and without blame, to destroy us. Without exception, there is no one among us who does not deserve condemnation. He has the right to condemn. However, towards evil, he has always been patient. In other words, he waited patiently until the sin of the Amorites was complete. Or to put it another way, if God had punished them before the allotted time, that would have been wrong, or after the time, it would have been wrong. But he is always on time to fulfill his promise to condemn sin and evil. But there is another thing Scripture reveals. The same Holy Scripture that gives us an image in the Old Testament about God's justice and holiness, this same God took on a human nature and hung on the cross, so that he would, in himself, experience the same punishment that he inflicted on the people of Canaan. He took it by himself, on himself. He is the same God, the same, totally the same. There is a former terrorist who told me this phrase—he came to believe in Christ and told me this phrase—he said, "Terrorists claim that we die for the sake of God, while the message of the gospel is the opposite: God died for us. The situation is quite different." So, the genocide in the Old Testament is an image of God's holiness. It only occurred once and allowed us to understand the suffering that he endured, so that this doesn't happen again, so there will be everlasting life. It's an image about love, about how much God loves us. He showed us the suffering he experienced in order that we would be saved forever. The wrath was absorbed. The revealed wrath became absorbed wrath through Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Answer by Dr. Imad Shehadeh

Imad Shehadeh is the president and founder of Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary in Amman, Jordan where he also serves as a professor of Theology.