Skeptics have claimed that God was unjust when He ordained Israel to destroy the Canaanites. However, if we properly understand the whole picture we will be able to view God’s actions as full of mercy and fairness in His dealings with His children.
The first fact
No worldly government can exist unless it uses every necessary means to punish law breaking. Would a governor of a state who refuses to pardon a criminal and instead hands him over to the justice system be considered a heartless cruel man? Of course not. Likewise, God’s government cannot successfully continue unless there is a plan that will ultimately, if not immediately, punish evil (Isaiah 61:8; Deut. 32:4; Colossians 3:25; etc.).
The second fact
Though rebellion must be put down and rebels must be punished “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), God displays mercy for He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God has done everything in His power to save the sinner through the plan of redemption (John 3:16). Nevertheless, those that choose to reject God’s love will be lost (2 Peter 3:7).
The third fact
Even though the Ruler of the universe displays mercy and gives to men time to repent, there ultimately must be a day of judgement. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). There is no justice in the world today, and therefore there must be a day when the wrongs of the present life are made right.
The Canaanites’ wickedness
According to the Bible, the Canaanites were so vile that the very land “spued” them out (Lev. 18:28). They were corrupt and depraved to the core. They made a religion of lust. And they even sent their own children into the fires of the god Molech as living sacrifices. Lev. 18 records briefly the moral degradation of the Canaanites.
God’s patience on the Canaanites
God promised Abraham (Genesis 15), that his seed would inherit the land of Canaan. But He said to Abraham that the promise would take a long time to be fulfilled for “the iniquity of the Amorites, or the people of Canaan, is not yet full” (v. 16). The Canaanites had not completely sinned away their day of grace. This clearly shows God’s mercy on sinners, and that He gives them a time of probation that they may repent.
Although Abraham was God’s friend and the Lord wanted to give to him the land of Canaan for an inheritance. God was patient. And He said to Abraham, you and your children to the fourth generation must be patient too. And so for 400 years more, the Amorites were allowed to live and do as they pleased.
The skeptics illogical arguments
Skeptics say if God is a God of love why did He bring destruction on certain nations of the world? And then these same skeptics turn around and say if there is a God of justice, why does He permit the wicked to rule the world and bring sorrow and suffering on the innocent? Such arguments are clearly illogical.
God is love (1 John 4:16) and He is also just (Psalm 25:8). He looks at all things from a infinite perspective than man can. And He will ultimately save righteous and also punish the unrighteous “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
In His service,