Why Did God Kill Entire Nations in the Old Testament?

Here is another question related to the question previously posted about God’s mercy and God’s wrath.  Let me know what you think.

Q. Why did they kill all the people in the cities? (Example: Joshua 11:11,12,14,17,21,22)

A. Several answers:

  • They were wicked and God was judging them. (Joshua 11:20)
    • God is a Holy God and Sin must be punished. (1 Peter 1:16, Exodus 20:5, 34:7)
    • There comes a Judgment Day. (Hebrews 9:27)
    • God’s spirit will not always strive with man. (Genesis 6:3)
  • God did not want them polluting his people with their wicked idolatry and sinful practices.  (Ex 34:11-12, Deut 7:2)
  • God is the author of life so He has the absolute right to take life away whenever He wants. (Job 1:21, Zechariah 12:1)
    • There is nothing patently immoral about the Creator of life taking away life. It’s immoral for us because when we take life, usually we are exercising a prerogative reserved for God alone.
  • God does give people space to repent. (2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 33:11) Even in the Old Testament we see examples of His grace and mercy to those who will repent:
    • Noah (Genesis 6:8)
    • Lot and His family out of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis  18-19)
    • Passing over any home (Jewish or Egyptian) that had blood on the door posts and lintel (Exodus 12:12-13).
    • Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35:9-34)
    • Rahab (Joshua 6:17,22-25)
    • Nineveh (Jonah 3:10-4:2)

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