Here are a few pics for Exodus:



Possible explanations of God’s character differing from what Christ would teach:

From Adam Hamilton’s Making Sense of the Bible

Many of us read these justifications for why God prescribed horrible and seemingly immoral acts of violence but find it impossible to reconcile these acts with the character of God Christianity proclaims. Jesus breaks bread with sinners. He ministers to prostitutes and adulterers. He hangs on the cross and prays for his accusers and executors, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son . . .” This is far from the God who, with little compunction, destroys tens of thousands of people.

So what is the alternative? The Bible says these things. If the Bible says it, are we not required to accept it? The point of the first half of this book was to recognize the complexity of the Bible and to help you see its humanity. If we understand the Bible as having been essentially dictated by God, then yes, we have no choice but to accept what is written as accurately describing God’s actions and God’s will. But if we recognize the Bible’s humanity—that it was written by human beings whose understanding and experience of God was shaped by their culture, their theological assumptions, and the time in which they lived—then we might be able to say, “In this case, the biblical authors were representing what they believed about God rather than what God actually inspired them to say.” If we use Jesus’s words, and his great commandments, as a colander, we’ll see that these violent passages in the Hebrew Bible contradict not only these great commands but the very life and ministry of Jesus who was God’s unmitigated Word.

So one possible resolution to the moral and theological dilemma raised by the texts we’ve been studying is that Moses, Joshua, and David were warriors living in times when violence was seen as part of God’s way of accomplishing his purposes. They attributed to God words, commands, and deeds that they believed God would have authorized or done. What I am suggesting is that Old Testament passages about violence and war thus tell us more about the people who wrote them and the times they were living in than about the God in whose name they claimed authority to do these things.

A second possible way of making sense of the violence of the Old Testament, particularly related to war, is to recognize that Moses, Joshua, and David were Israel’s heroes. They were warrior-saints. These stories were written down long after their time to inspire others to courage and absolute commitment to God.

Here’s what I’m suggesting: Perhaps the stories of the conquest of Canaan were to ancient Israelites what the stories of William Wallace are to the Scots. Written long after the time of these heroes, they were meant to demonstrate courage, resolve, and faith and to inspire later generations still struggling against their own enemies. These stories were written from the theological perspective of the ancient Near East, where gods sent heroes into battle and fought alongside them. No one reads Sir Walter Scott’s book on William Wallace to find a model of ethics of war. They read it to be inspired by a national hero. The same was true of the Book of Joshua.

There’s a lot more about this topic that should be said; entire books have been devoted to addressing the issue of violence in the Bible. My goal is to point you toward some possible ways of making sense of this violence without justifying it. The answers that make the most sense to me require that we recognize the humanity of the Bible’s authors, their intent in writing, and the culture that shaped them. This approach also invites us to question those parts of Scripture where God is portrayed in a way inconsistent with Jesus’s life and message. Where a particular teaching in Scripture is at odds with what Jesus said, we are right to consider that the passage may reflect the culture, the worldview, or the perspectives of the human author of Scripture rather than the timeless heart, character, and will of God.