Maybe I’m on a kick, thinking up ideas for Old Testament Bible studies. Anyway, I think one should be done on the Conquest of Canaan.
First of all, it’s so important to remember that Scripture informs us about what we need to know. We can’t just wait until we have a clever thought or question. Instead, the Bible tells us more than we would ever naturally seek out.
That, my friends, should guide our Bible studies. Hard teachings in Scripture? Teach them. Don’t ignore them. Certainly don’t leave the passages untouched other than by unbelieving, hysteria-prone media!
Second, I’m not an apologetics-first kind of girl, but I do think contemporary media coverage, which mistakenly compares the conquest of Canaan with other conquests or religious wars, begs the question. What are the differences between Israelite violence and others’? What does Scripture explicitly say? What is Christian teaching and how can Christians articulate it, for themselves, their families, and those they may speak with—you know, neighbors in narrow or broad terms.
My husband, who I think is brilliant, always highlights a few points for starters:
- The conquest of Canaan is a singular event in history, without ongoing orders for violence.
- God publicly condoned and explicitly detailed what was to happen.
- It was publicly declared. The Canaanites knew it was coming and could act accordingly.
- God’s previous miracles in Egypt, and at the Red Sea, were known. God had proved Himself.
- It was, in part, a supernatural event. Even their opponents recognized this—the God of Creation, unbound by geography or the limits of man’s “faithfulness,” was on the move to establish a place for Himself and His people.
- There were, in fact, people who sought and received mercy.
Comparing the conquest of Canaan with other religious wars effectively presumes that if one God exists, all gods exist, and if one God can explicitly reveal—to both believers and unbelievers, a war, as is the case in Scripture’s narrative—then people must be able to feel, guess, and in all ways determine for themselves when to enter into almost any kind of violence.
No, I’m not responding to any particular recent media account. I just think that there are serious theological implications that are wrongly asserted without proper response. While I don’t think newspapers and magazines would retract articles based on a really good Lutheran Bible study, we really do have the tools and equipment, in Word and deed, to respond, especially among our people.
Will people line up down the hall to hear bloody details? Maybe not so much in a fellowship hall, but our Christian fellowship is with Christ, who Himself was involved with the Conquest of Canaan. Christianity holds to bloody details! A body and blood Christ and a bloody crucifixion! The redemption by blood and the gift of Body and Blood in the Sacrament!
I fear we see so little of Christ in the Old Testament that we overlook the holy Trinity, as it acts united toward us in history and in salvation. That should be diligently addressed.
Third (I almost forgot I was counting), the Psalms is an inspired prayer book of the Church. Why not have the church teach us how to pray Psalm 137?
Something to think about. 🙂 Or pray or writing about.
PS. There is more than one pastor with the name Moerbe in the LCMS. Mine is Ned!