Few parts of the Bible create so much emotion as the holy wars of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 7, God’s people are told to totally destroy the Canaanites in the land of Canaan.
How could a loving God order such a shocking and severe command?
The command comes in the context of a holy God wanting his holy people to live in a holy land. God’s people were sinful. In his goodness, he made a way for them to be in relationship with him. It was the Levitical sacrificial system that ritually cleansed them to be holy like their God.
The only problem was if they came in contact with anything ‘unclean’ they would be disqualified from relationship with him again. The land of Canaan was full of unclean Canaanites and their gods. These unclean threats had to be removed so that God’s people could live in the land with Him. The purpose of the total destruction (sacred ban) was to keep God’s people holy in the land.
This is hard for us to appreciate since we underestimate how detestable (and deadly serious) our sin is to God. We fail to fathom what it means that God is holy.
Amazingly, though, when we come to the New Testament we see that God takes the total destruction on himself. He declares a holy war on himself on the Cross of Jesus Christ. He took the punishment and destruction of our sin on himself to make us holy!
When we appreciate the significance of how damaging sin is, as we read about the holy wars in the Old Testament and the punishment of Jesus on the Cross in the New Testament, we realise there is no where else for us to go but to Jesus to receive salvation from sin.
In Christ, Tory Cayzer.