We know that the nations God sent Israel to annihilate were corrupt in ways we can only begin to imagine, and that they had no intention of changing. We know that sin, unchecked and unchallenged, spreads like a disease. We know that the decision to wipe these nations out was just, fair, and ultimately an act of love from a patient God who was no longer willing to watch His creation engaged in a cycle of self-destruction.
But there’s more to the story. We’ve been dancing around it this whole time, because the full weight of this truth can only be felt once all the groundwork is laid. This final piece of the puzzle reveals that God is beyond just, beyond fair, and more loving than we can ever really comprehend.
God, who is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), isn’t done with the Canaanites yet. They’re going to live again in the second resurrection, where “the dead, small and great” (Revelation 20:12) will stand before God and have their eyes opened to the truth—and it’s all going to happen after Jesus Christ and His transformed saints invest a thousand years into fixing and repairing our broken world (Revelation 20:5).
When the Canaanites wake up, standing alongside the billions and billions who never truly knew the God who created them, it’s going to be in a world far different than the one they remember. They’re not going to wake up in a toxic culture with a backdrop of child sacrifice and a litany of other socially acceptable sins. They’re not going to wake up in a world where environments like Sodom and Gomorrah could ever exist.
They’re going to wake up in a world where “your eyes shall see your teachers” and “your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21). They’re going to wake up in a world where “ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'” (Zechariah 8:23). They’re going to wake up in a world that is actively seeking to develop a relationship with God and walk in His ways (Micah 4:2).
They are going to wake up in a world designed to give them their best possible opportunity to join the family of God.
* * *
So many people look at the Old Testament and see an angry, vindictive God eager to destroy and kill—and when we take scriptures like Deuteronomy 32:42 out of context, it’s easy to have concerns about a God who appears to be bragging about “arrows drunk with blood.” But once we take a step back and look at the bigger picture—a God who set boundaries for the good of the human race, a God who held His patience for centuries as His own creation rejected Him and started down a horrific path of self-destruction, a God who was actively working out a plan that would open the doors of salvation, at the cost of His own life, for everyone who has ever lived—those misconceptions begin to fade away.
God understands the damage sin causes. When we sin, God watches on as the work of His hands begins to tear itself apart. He hates that. When He gave Israel the command to utterly destroy the people of Canaan, it was as if He was saying, “Enough. You’ve hurt yourselves enough. It’s time for you to sleep—and when you wake up, I’m going to show you how life was meant to be lived.”
A fair God would leave us all rotting in our graves. A just God would demand our lives as payment for our sins, and He would be completely right in doing so. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God is love. Always. That’s true when He’s answering our prayers, and it’s true when He’s punishing us for our sins. Godly love isn’t about making each moment as painless and as easy as possible; it’s about seeing the bigger picture and doing what’s best for us instead of only what’s pleasant for us. And so we are to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Every moment of hardship God allows in our lives (whether we brought it on ourselves or not) is designed to bring us that much closer to becoming the men and women God called us to be.
Not one moment is arbitrary.
Not one moment is without purpose.
* * *
God is building a family. He wants you to be part it. He wants me to part of it. He wants ancient Israel to be part of it. He wants, ultimately, for the Canaanites the Israelites killed to be part of it.
That’s the key. That’s the lens through which we must view the entire Bible if we really want to understand it:
God is building a family. For the past 6,000 years of human history, He’s been slowly moving the world to a place where that goal can be accomplished. Right now, we can only see glimpses of the bigger picture—God can see every piece, knowing exactly how each one fits into the next.
If we fixate on scriptures about being “drunk with blood” and refuse to use the correct lens, we’re going to miss the point. But if we’re willing to step back and look at the context, we might start seeing what’s been there all along. Just a few verses earlier, God remarks,
Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
That feels backwards. Shouldn’t it say, “I make alive and I kill; I heal and I wound”?
No. God put them in that order, and not by accident. Because “making alive” has been the plan all along. Building a family has been His focus since before He declared, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Even as He commanded the Israelites to wipe out the corrupt and wicked Canaanites, He had plans to bring them back in a world where they could be redeemed; where their hearts could be molded and inscribed with His perfect Law.
And it doesn’t end with the Canaanites. The billions and billions of people who have died without God, without His truth, whose bones cry out with the bones of Israel, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (Ezekiel 37:11)—all these will live again and stand before the God who loves them, who created them to be His children.
So yes, God promised to make His arrows drunk with blood. Yes, God eradicated entire nations because of their depravity—but He was right in doing so. He was just in doing so. And what’s more, He has a plan—still has a plan—to be beyond fair, beyond right, beyond just, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
He who does not love God does not know God, for God. is. love.
Until next time,