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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oh yes, there will be blood.

There is a growing tendency to think of the war with the Canaanites as "ethnic cleansing" or genocide.  We christians make excuses for it.  We ignore it.  We pass over it or worse, make up heresies to explain it.  But just like the Ark of the Covenant does not need you to steady it, God does not need you to justify him either.  We could lift a line from Job like, "Who has come to confront me, that I should repay him?  Under all the heavens, it belongs to me." (Job 41)  And just leave it at that.

But our faith isn't blind.  Yes, we hope for what we do not see but not because we made it up.  God desires relationship.  He knows us through and through and is constantly exposing His heart to us.  So what does this Psalm and the conquering of Canaan say about Him?  What does He want us to know?

First, that he hates sin.  No real surprise there.  Second, that sin, all sin, demands blood.  The life is in the blood.  Sin is only cleansed by death, by blood.  From Genesis 3 on down through the Passover and the Temple God is very consistent.  Sin can only be cleansed when blood is spilled.  "Indeed, nearly everything is purified with blood according to the law, and apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Heb 9)  God is holy.  God is the only one without sin.  God is the only one with the right to judge.  So we see the basis for God to come in and wipe out the Canaanites, it's not based on ethnicity or race, it is based solely on whether or not they have sinned...

But because of that we also see the basis for God to come in and wipe out everyone.  The Israelites had sinned too.  Time and time again as is documented in the Exodus.  They had probably worshiped idols in Egypt.  What makes them so great that they get to be on the giving end of this judgment?

Nuthin.  Except!  God chose them.  God had poured out his Spirit on them.  He had made a covenant with them.  Just as God did not destroy Adam and Eve in the Garden but killed or "cut off" animals and clothed them in their bloody skins and just like He did not kill Noah but had him take animals to "cut off" in place of him and his family, and just like He instituted the cutting off of the bloody foreskin as sign of the covenant with Abraham, and just like the Passover Lamb had its throat slit for the passing over of the Israelites in Egypt, the blood starts spilling with God's chosen first!  We are under the same curse as the Canaanites.  We need blood to cleanse us too!  God in his mercy and loyal love has accepted another's blood in our place!  Anyone who humbles themselves before God and allies themselves with Him is received by the grace of the blood of His accepted sacrifice.  Through Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham and the Israelites would come the acceptable sacrifice, the spotless lamb whose blood would be shed for the sins of the world!  This is the reason for the choosing.  This is why God puts up with the sins of some and condemns the sins of others.  The Canaanites thought they could appease the gods with the blood of their own children, but their children could only die for their own sins, not the sins of their parents which were magnified by the act of killing the most innocent among them.  God was not pleased.  These were horrendously violent and immoral people.  You would not want your children going to school with them.  You would not want them as neighbors.  They are the kind of people and nation we send armed "peacekeepers" to so they will stop slaughtering each other.  It takes but one generation of living among them for the Israelites to become indistinguishable from Sodom and Gomorrah, even Moses' own grandson!  (Judges 18)  Like Adam should have crushed the head of the Serpent in the Garden to protect Eve, so God, God himself for it is He who over and over again says has delivered the Canaanites into the Israel's hands, He who fights for them, God is crushing the head of Satan and cleansing the Garden where He has chosen to dwell among men.  God is the only rightful king, the Canaanites are immoral squatters abusing his people and his land.  But even those among them, Rahab the prostitute and the Gibeonites who humbled themselves before YHWH were brought into the mercy of the chosen!  God wants to forgive!  God wants to redeem!  God is good and will be proved good in all He does.  It is only those who stand against Him in pride who will be destroyed.  Those who will not accept the blood of the new covenant spilled for the forgiveness of sins, will drink the cup of wrath instead.  Their water of blessing which God gave them in life will be turned to blood.

But for us, the water has been turned to wine.  Do this in remembrance of Him until he comes again at last to cleanse the Garden once and for all.

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