DEUTERONOMY 20:16-18  


The Slaughter of the Canaanites
How is this justified in the Bible?


If the answer to this question is for an unbeliever, then none of the following will be adequate. It is only the believer, who understands and accepts God's character and plan, who has the capacity to understand the various ways and occasions that God has administered His justice.

1. Principle of Divine Sovereignty. God is the absolute authority in the universe. His viewpoint and policy has final jurisdiction over the entire universe. Psalm 103:19; 115:3; 135:6; 1 Chronicles 29:11-13; 1 Samuel 2:6-8; Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 14:24, 27

A. Included in this principle is God's authority over life and death. 1 Samuel 2:6, "The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up."

B. God is the creator, so "all souls are mine," Ezekiel 18:4.

C. Thus God has the right to determine the basis for life and death, "The soul that sins shall die," (Ezekiel 18:4).

D. God's thoughts are not like man's and man's thoughts are not like God's (Isaiah 55:8-9). Thus, there is a difference between divine viewpoint and human viewpoint. Human viewpoint is flawed, whereas, God's viewpoint is perfect, because it always reflects His perfect character.

E. The creature (created being) has no authority to question God's viewpoint or actions. Isaiah 45:8-9, "Woe to {the one} who quarrels with his Maker - An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making {say,} 'He has no hands'? Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'"


2. Principle of general wrath: Romans 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."

God is continually judging unbelievers as individuals and as societies because of consistent sinfulness.

A. Sometimes God uses His own direct power as at Sodom.
B. Sometimes God uses His people to judge as with the Canaanites.
C. Look at the reasons why God would judge these various peoples throughout history.

Rom. 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Rom. 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Rom. 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.
Rom. 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Rom. 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
Rom. 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Rom. 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
Rom. 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips,
Rom. 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
Rom. 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
Rom. 1:32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.


3. Principle of God's patience and kindness:

A. 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

B. Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"

C. Grace always precedes judgment. The people of Canaan had plenty of opportunity to turn to God.

1. Abraham lived in the land for a long time.

2. Melchizedek lived in the land as a family priest (Genesis 15:17-20).

3. They had the same opportunity of "God consciousness" as anyone else.
See Topic: God Consciousness.

4. Those who were in fact positive to God's message of salvation THROUGH Israel, were spared. Joshua 2:8-21

5. Application of Point 2 above: Romans 1:20, "so that they are without excuse."

4. God's foreknowledge:

A. God knew that the iniquity of the Hitites and Amorites would become full. Accordingly He gave their land to Abraham's seed.

B. At the time of the promise (Genesis 15:6) God did not give the land because - (1) Abe was not ready as a "nation," and (2) because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.

C. The principle of losing the land is found at Lev. 18:24-29.

Lev. 18:24 'Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.
Lev. 18:25 'For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.
Lev. 18:26 'But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations, {neither} the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you
Lev. 18:27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled);
Lev. 18:28 so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you.
Lev. 18:29 'For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do {so} shall be cut off from among their people.


5. The iniquity of the Amorites becomes full during the Joshua generation (called that because he was the leader).

A. Leviticus 18:1-30, this describes the severity of their idolatry and immorality. Everything from homosexuality to child sacrifice.

B. Thus the instructions at Deut. 20:16-18, "Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.

But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God."

C. Joshua 1:4, all the land of the Hittites.

6. Principle of mercy IN judgment. The death of the children is mercy from God.

A. Mercy to deliver them from a life of almost certain moral depravity (Leviticus 18:1-30).

B. Mercy because children who die before the age of accountability, are automatically saved and shall not come into judgment (principle found at 2 Samuel 12:18-23).

C. See Topic: Age of Accountability


Comments and Questions are Always Welcome

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