How could a “God of love ” (fill in the blank with some OT atrocity)?
The answer is simple but wildly unpopular.
Love isn’t the only attribute of God.
It’s debatable if it’s even the primary attribute as a God who is complete in all virtues cannot be said to be primarily any one thing.
The attribute He most often self identifies with Himself is “holy”.
“When Scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” (as it often does: Lev. 11:44- 45; Josh. 24:19; Isa. 2:2; Ps. 99:9; Isa. 1:4; 6:3; 41:14, 16, 20; 57:15; Ezek. 39:7; Amos 4:2; John 17:11; Acts 5:3-4, 32; Rev. 15:4), the word signifies everything about God that sets him apart from us and makes him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of his transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all his attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. Every facet of God’s nature and every aspect of his character may properly be spoken of as holy, just because it is his. The core of the concept, however, is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Hab. 1:13) and thus calls sinners to constant self-abasement in his presence (Isa. 6:5).”
Packer, J. I. (2001-02-01). Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (p. 43). Tyndale House Pub. Kindle Edition.
Holiness has no current cultural traction and a God who is holy and demands holiness can’t get any good press.
We want to recreate God in our own image…just nicer.
The problem is that God hates sin and we are sinners and sinners for the most part enjoy sin.
God is set apart…completely pure and utterly holy.
Therefore, all these anthropomorphic idols collapse and burn at the place of holiness.
The problem is that unless you understand the holiness of God and His utter hatred of sin, you simply cannot understand why only Jesus could atone for our sins and the incredible sacrifice and grace He has given.
Why did He wipe out the Canaanites?
“Justice, which means doing in all circumstances things that are right, is one expression of God’s holiness. God displays his justice as legislator and judge, and also as promise-keeper and pardoner of sin. His moral law, requiring behavior that matches his own, is “holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). He judges justly, according to actual desert (Gen. 18:25; Pss. 7:11; 96:13; Acts 17:31). His “wrath,” that is, his active judicial hostility to sin, is wholly just in its manifestations (Rom. 2:5-16), and his particular “judgments” (retributive punishments) are glorious and praiseworthy (Rev. 16:5, 7; 19:1-4). Whenever God fulfills his covenant commitment by acting to save his people, it is a gesture of “righteousness,” that is, justice (Isa. 51:5-6; 56:1; 63:1; 1 John 1:9). When God justifies sinners through faith in Christ, he does so on the basis of justice done, that is, the punishment of our sins in the person of Christ our substitute; thus the form taken by his justifying mercy shows him to be utterly and totally just (Rom. 3:25-26), and our justification itself is shown to be judicially justified.” Packer, J. I.
They deserved it, that’s why.
So do we…so thank God for Jesus.