There are times when certain Bible stories seem to raise more questions than give us answers. How can we believe that God is full of love and mercy when He is directing Joshua to annihilate all the people in city after city throughout the whole land? How can a good God condone such violence? Is the God that is pictured in the Old Testament consistent with the God of the New Testament? Is there any explanation that can satisfy the inquisitive mind or the seeking heart?
While we may not be able to figure out totally satisfying answers to these questions, there are some truths that are very obvious and must be blended together so that we have an understanding of God that is as Biblical and complete as our very finite minds can grasp. The Lord is a holy and righteous God and He cannot tolerate the disregard of Himself and His ways. Jehovah is a just and righteous God and His actions always represent His character. There never has been any inconsistency. At the same time, God is love and has always reached out to mankind with mercy, patience, and kindness. One of the most amazing facts is that God continues to spare any rebellious people when He has every reason to respond (as He did in the days of Noah) to evil with only His anger and justice. From the beginning, God has always provided a way for man to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament always pointed to the day when a Savior would come and fully pay the price for sin through the giving of His own life. The desire of His heart has continuously been to have a love relationship with all those who will believe and who will respond by faith to His invitation to “seek Him with all your heart”.
Where will you put your focus as you study God’s Word? You get to choose. You can concentrate on the violence and harshness of the punishment of those people who were evil in their hearts and continue to grumble about all of the things that you cannot understand OR you can read with eagerness to see what God did for those who would “inquire of Him”, would follow His directions, and who would put their trust in Him for their future. It’s really up to you.