One Saturday I was working in the yard when an unfamiliar car pulled into my drive way (keep in mind I live in the country on 5 acres). My conversation with 2 complete strangers was as follows….
Me: How’s it going? Can I help you?
Lady: We’re looking for our bird?
Me: Bird? Really? What kind?
Lady: An Emu.
Me: An Emu?
Me: You mean like a giant 6ft pre-historic bird?
Me: Really? That’s crazy. I’ve been outside in the yard all morning and haven’t seen anything.
Lady: We’re pretty sure it came onto your property.
Me: Ok, well you’re more than welcome to look around, let’s go for a walk.
And you’ll never guess what we found?
A giant 6ft tall pre-historic bird right in my own front yard.
Are you kidding me!
I’d been out in my yard the entire morning, how did I miss it?
I then spent the next hour helping my new stranger friend chase and try to lasso this hyper aggressive and angry dinosaur bird.
But seriously, how did I miss it?
The worst part is none of my family was around to witness this whole crazy scene and they all think I just made it up.
I still can’t believe I missed it? How do you miss something that giant and that obvious? It literally strolled onto my property and was hanging out and I never saw it.
Did you know there’s a 6ft tall prehistoric bird in the front yard of the old testament?
One that strolled onto the property of your understanding of God and has been hanging out and most of us have never seen it.
For most of Christianity one of the biggest struggles that people seem to bump up against is what to do with the picture of the seemingly angry and wrathful God of the old testament.
Do we just accept passages like this….
Deuteronomy 20 16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.
This is God? Leave nothing alive the breathes? Completely destroy them?
This looks a lot like genocide.
That’s what you call it when you wipe out an entire people group.
This sounds like some sort of tribal war lord. Kill them all, Take no prisoners!
This is the story we normally hear and see and are taught in Church about how God opperates. This is one of the stories that people who reject the Bible and the God of the Bible point to.
And that last line says “as the Lord your God has commanded you.”
The big question is …… but did he really?
I want to show you 3 passages from the Old testament that might paint a different picture of how God invited them to occupy the promise land.
Watch out, because here comes the dinosaur bird sneaking up on you.
27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
This is not killing anyone or requiring anyone to kill anyone else. And if you notice this will be a transition, it will take time, God’s plan was for a slow occupation of the promise land that didn’t involve blood shed.
Not Good enough?
How bout this?
Leviticus 18 – This is God again talking about the people being removed from a location. And the idea is that the land would become temporarily unavailable so that the inhabitants might move elsewhere.
24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
How bout now?
Here’s one more.
Deuteronomy 7 – This is God laying out yet another plan, a plan that the Hebrew people would have been hyper familiar with.
17 You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.
God says I will bring you into the promise land the way that I brought you out of Egypt.
Are you kidding me with this stuff?!?!
So God gives 3 separate opportunities for a peaceful occupation of the promise land and yet the story that we tell and dwell on is the one where God seemingly commands blood and death and genocide.
One could suggest that maybe we’ve been reading and telling the story all wrong.
It wasn’t God who commanded the brutality and genocide.
It was men acting in a way that they understood the world and the gods to work at that time.
Which was actually contrary to the plans that God had for them.
Now that’s one giant pre-historic bird in the front yard of your understanding of the God of the universe.
How have we missed this?
Could it be that the God of the Old Testament isn’t the bloodthirsty, wrath obsessed, easily angered, and violent God we’ve been convinced he is?