The Old Testament has Israel wrapped up in wars, slavery, and what seems like a never-ending struggle. When God made a way for the people of Israel to go into the promised land, they were given an order to kill everyone that was living there. Did God command genocide in the Bible? How is that right? Abraham lived peacefully with these people so what happened?

Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. Genesis 23:7

Normal People

When Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died Abraham did not have a place to bury her because he owned no land in the place God had promised to give him. So, in Genesis Chapter 23 we see an exchange between Abraham and a Hittite to buy land that would be proper for her burial. This exchange is between two groups of people who respect each other. They even recognized Abraham as “prince of God” (Genesis 23:6). So how did this group of people go from being peaceable neighbors to being accursed by God?

“When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, Exodus 23:23

Judged People

When Joshua a descendant of Abraham hundreds of years after this purchased land shows up to wage war on these same people he is following the commands and promises of God. The first city to fall, Jericho, is completely destroyed including all the women and children. God of the Bible would be charged for commanding genocide by any standard of today. In order to understand what happened to the Hittites we need to look at the promise of God to Abraham earlier in the Book of Genesis.

16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:16;18-21

Depraved People

God shows Abraham how the promise to give him the promise land will come about. His children will be slaves in Egypt and then God will call them out and give them this promised land because the people living there today like the Hittites will have reached a threshold of “iniquity” that will be complete for God’s judgement leading to the promise to “blot them out”. This is the Bible recording the command of God for Genocide.

Iniquity translated from the Hebrew עָוָה (Aw-vone) means great guilt, depravity, and perversity. The Hittites that Abraham is living among while sinners are just normal peoples. They are normal liars, coveters, and thieves just as what is normal for all sinners. But God knowing all things knew that in 400 years these people would no longer be normal sinners they would be the most perverse and depraved of sinners. Something dear reader we should all reflect on is at what point does culture shift from simply sinners to fully depraved? I have watched my own culture run head first at a full sprint to depravity that my parents’ generations could not have imagined.

They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. 36 But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. 37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. 38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. Psalms 78:35-39 ESV

Cancel Culture

God is patient dealing with us as sinners and understanding that we are weak. Social media cancel culture proves to me that I would much prefer to be judged by God than by men. Cancel culture has no mercy. But God will show mercy even at an attempt to acknowledge him as Creator. Yet even this merciful loving God has limits on the depravity, iniquity, that he will allow. The Hittites ultimately in the following generations reach a point where they would not even recognize Abraham as a prince of God.

What would be genocide by man is perfect justice by God who is King and Creator of all peoples in all places at all times. Steven the first Christian martyr right before he was killed by the unforgiving cancel culture of his time told them a truth their iniquity did not want to hear.

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53 ESV

God Shows Mercy

Dear reader God is quick to mercy and slow to judgment. Genocide is not possible because God’s judgment is always just. We deserve death and more because of our sins. But we avert God’s judgment now by acknowledgment him. And we avert God’s judgment in the life to come by submitting our lives to Christ. Christ has paid for all our sins. Do not resist the Holy Spirit and be like Abraham and the Hittites of his age who acknowledged God and lived with peace of those around them.

Thank you for reading. I pray this was useful to your devotional, small group, or Bible Study. Please leave a comment or click the like button!

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