Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Old Testament Extermination vs. New Testament Evangelisation

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, March 27, 2013:  Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.  Deuteronomy 7:16 (NKJV)

There are numerous ways that God's instructions CHANGED as we move from Old Testament to New.  God NEVER changes, but His instructions to us DO!  It is a marvellous and wonderful study to see all the ways God has shifted His expectations of us as His plan found fulfilment in Jesus.  

One of the most controversial ways things changed is with respect to the pagan nations.  In the Old Testament, we find God telling Israel to KILL THEM ALL!  In the New Testament we find God telling the Church to WIN THEM ALL.  In the Old Testament we find EXTERMINATION.  In the New Testament we find EVANGELISATION.

This is so dramatic that some have thought that the "Old Testament God" is totally different from the "New Testament God".  According to this view, the Old Testament God is a blood-thirsty monster who practiced genocide on the scale of an Adolf Hitler or a Joseph Stalin.  He practiced ethnic cleansing and advocated the eradication of entire nations.  By contrast, the New Testament God is the embodiment of tolerance, acceptance, and love for all people.  Such caricatures force us to look closer at what really happened in the transition from Old Testament to New.

Why would Holy God order the destruction of entire groups of people?  The answer lies in two basic truths:

1.  The Nature of the Old Testament.  The Old Testament is basically DEFENSIVE.  The aim is the preservation of a precarious holiness.  By contrast, the New Testament is OFFENSIVE; it is aggressive.  In so many ways, the Old Testament centered on "touch not, taste not."  By contrast, the New Testament is a picture of positive holiness that drives out impurity.  

2.  The Aim of the Old Testament.  God can see the future.  He sees what compromise will produce.  Old Testament history focuses on one and only one objective:  the Messiah!  All of the Old Testament balances on the thin line of purity whereby a SAVIOUR could arrive on Planet Earth. Therefore, all threats to this precarious holiness had to be wiped out.  The Canaanite people were given to bestiality, incest, and child sacrifice.  God wanted no compromise in a people who would deliver Jesus.  He knew the destructive results of intermarriage and the acceptance of pagan practices.

In the New Testament, we find these words, "For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."(John 3:16)  Even though He ordered the destruction of pagan nations, yet even then His heart of redemption was at work.  ANYONE who would repent and throw themselves on the mercy of God could be saved.  We find this in the story of a pagan prostitute named Rahab in Joshua 2.  

Our God is by nature a Redeemer.  He is by nature full of compassion.  Then and now, He hears the cry of those who call out to Him for mercy.  When it is all said and done, history will declare the goodness of God -- even though at times His judgment has been severe.  He does all things well!

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