Ask a questionQ & A
God will always do what is right, but why did he use the Israelites to kill the Canaanites? Why didn't God just make them barren and let them die out?
Thank you for your question about God using the people of Israel for his purpose. You raise an interesting point: why would God use people to kill others when he could use another method?
You state that God was correct to kill the Canaanite people because God is always right. While this is true, it can still be difficult for us to understand or comprehend. However, Abraham, when discussing with God the destruction of Sodom, says "shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (Genesis 18:25).
This can give us confidence. God doesn't do things arbitrarily, there is always a purpose that is inline with his character; His justice is a part of his character. Whether against Sodom, the Canaanite tribes or even perhaps against nations today, God's justice will be known and delivered.
What is clear is that God will always punish sin. Sin is more than simply 'doing something wrong' it is committing an act of rebellion against Almighty God and therefore any punishment that is delivered by God is wholly deserved and fair.
However, although God will always punish sin, he desires that all people will be saved; He doesn't punish people without giving them an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). The Canaanite people knew the correct way to live and God was waiting for them to repent and place their trust in him. Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho, was one of the people who trusted in God and she was saved (Joshua 6:17). She made it clear that the people knew of God's power but only she and those that were with her were saved. Furthermore, it is possible that the entire city or nation could have been saved if they had placed their trust in God. An example of this is Ninevah in the book of Jonah.
It could have been possible for God to have used other methods for exercising his justice, perhaps by making an entire nation of women barren. However, for God to do this is against his character. God gave the command to Adam and Eve for them to go into the world and reproduce (Genesis 1:28). If God prevented this from happening to the Canaanite people, he would be breaking his own command and could have caused a whole nation to have their hearts hardened toward God.
God has always used people, who are made in his image, to complete his purpose. God used Noah to save his family, God used prophets to deliver his message, and he also used the people of Israel to show his power and authority. God used the Israelites to destroy these nations and tribes, who were evil even by today's standards. However, it would seem that this was only for a specific time in order for God to set up a nation of his chosen people.
However, there will be a time when all of us will be judged and receive judgement that is inline with God's perfect character. We are told that just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27-28). Yes there will be judgement, but there will also be people that are saved because they await eagerly for Christ.
Just as God used the people of Israel, he uses Christians today to spread Good News throughout the world. Through Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, Christians are proclaiming that we can be free from sin and have a direct relationship with God. While there are cases of God speaking directly to people (for example in dreams), God's primary method is still through people that are called by his name for his purpose. We can see this through Jesus' instructions to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, then I encourage you to do so today. God's righteous anger against sin that was once delivered against people was placed upon Christ's perfect sacrifice for us, so that our sins could be forgiven. Simply pray to God and ask for forgiveness. After you do this, you can know God personally and have the Holy Spirit present in your life.
In summary, God has always used people to deliver his plan and purpose. The people of Israel having wars against the evil Canaanite tribes was God's way of delivering righteous judgement on the people. God saved and continues to save those who put their trust in him to save them. By placing your trust in Jesus, who is God, you can be saved from the judgement that is to come.
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church
Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
Find more answers in...
If you can't find an answer to your question, please ask us instead.