Many people question God’s love. One of the most common objections to the notion of God loving is the many commands to wipe a group of people out after defeating them in battle as found in the Old Testament. That does pose a problem.
The Bible is more descriptive than prescriptive.Just because the Bible gives us examples of genocide does not necessarily mean God wanted it done. Holy genocide is not limited to the Old Testament of to Israelites. I think the ancient Israelites acted in good faith and they believed God wanted them to annihilate an entire nation at times, but I think they were mistaken.
I have heard various justifications for Israelite genocide. Yes, they had no prisons. Yes, there was no criminal justice system. Yes, there was no professional army to protect Israel. Yes, God commanded it – supposedly.
I believe we should study and interpret the Bible in relation to what we read and know about the ethic of Jesus. His was a message of love, so it is inconceivable that God wanted people bearing His Image to be killed. The biblical writers are describing what the ancient Israelites believed and how they acted upon those beliefs.
The did have enough of God’s revelation that the idea of an eye for an eye was a better response to conflict. This idea means simply if someone puts out an eye you do not retaliate by taking both their eyes and a leg and foot; you only take out their eye. What is called the Golden Rule is an extension of this ethic (and the Rule is found in various form in other religions, too.
The earliest stories took place during the Iron Age, and perhaps before. The people of that time could only respond to as much of God as their Stone Age understanding could understand. By the way, I do not believe in progressive revelation that is defined as God revealing Himself gradually until the full revelation in the Christ. All of God has always been revealed to us and what has progressed, and is progressing, is our ability to receive more of His revelation. Further, God is still revealing Himself; we do not have full knowledge of God despite our theological ramblings.
Give it some thought. I will continue this discussion later. Your comments are welcome.