A Summary of Show Them No Mercy in 4 Parts: View Number 2 (Moderate Discontinuity)
Eugene Merrill’s case for moderate discontinuity is my preferred interpretation. Without having read it, I came to the same conclusions as he had save the use of the term genocide. More on that in a few paragraphs.
I will label this the dispensational view. It is further evidence, I believe, of how faithful dispensationalism is to the biblical text. It alone accounts for the seeming incongruity of Jesus’ ministry of salvation, mercy and grace with the judgment of the Canaanites in their wholesale annihilation by God as represented in the Old Testament.
One of the things I appreciate is the depth of Merrill’s material that he explains from the Word of God. He believes, rightly I would say, that the wholesale killing of the Canaanites was the judgment of God on a specific people (the Canaanites), at a specific period (the claiming of the land of promise under Joshua), by means of a specific agent (the Israelites) for a specific purpose (to claim the land promised to them while remaining true to their calling of holiness among the nations).
Therefore, as Merrill argued, it is wholly unjustifiable in any other context, most specifically the Church Age. The use of it to justify the Holocaust or the Crusades is an abuse of the Scriptures and not what Merrill identifies as Yahweh war. I would take this a step further and say that thus it merits a different designation than what is understood as genocide.
As to the use of the word genocide, I would disagree with Merrill. Genocide is a loaded word with a deserved negative connotation. To use such an inflammatory term for specific wickedness seen too often in our time to describe what God did through the Israelites is deplorable. However, if genocide were a neutral, amoral term, then it would be appropriate to use it in reference to what happened with the Canaanites. I don’t believe that Merrill, or anyone else for that matter, would argue that the term genocide is without inherent negative meaning.
God is a God of justice, holiness and righteousness. He is also a God of mercy, grace, patience and forgiveness. Even as Jesus offered the forgiveness of God to repentant sinners that didn’t come without a cost. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus. The first view misses that entirely. Again, I think this view, which mirrors my own, is the correct one.
God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace are shown in the sparing of Rahab and all who sought shelter from the coming wrath in her home. Yet God’s righteous anger was illustrated in all of its justifiable fury in the annihilation of the rest of the Canaanites. I believe those two activities, God’s mercy and grace shown to repentant believers and wrath poured out on those who refused to repent, foreshadow the truths we find in salvation through Jesus Christ. Eternal bliss in Heaven awaits believers and an eternity in the Lake of Fire, without mercy, is the destiny of unrepentant sinners. In other words, God is magnanimously gracious and merciful to those who turn to Him in faith and repentance but also without mercy to those who refuse.
Our American culture bristles at such a view of God. Americans wish to have the positive attributes of God without the supposedly negative ones. God is loving, merciful, gracious, and kind in their view. A God of justice and wrath is hated by them. It is in fact this rebellion from the true God that imperils them to the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth that Jesus spoke about. No matter how they seek to sanitize God generally or Jesus particularly, the Bible is clear on the full attributes of God, as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.
He is God and there is no other. Woe to the person who will seek to craft God in their own image or according to their own likeness. Those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth as He is and always will be.
A Summary of Show Them No Mercy in 4 Parts: View Number 1 (Radical Discontinuity)