4. How can the God of Joshua be the God of Jesus?
And so we get back to the key question – how can the God of Joshua also be the God of Jesus? A few thoughts.
- Jesus is the one who takes the punishment that we deserve so that we don't suffer the same fate as the Canaanites. He is the solution to the problem of how there can be any hope for those who commit treason against the rightful and righteous rule of God. And he solves it by being God and bearing God's own righteous anger against our sin.
- Some people say that God could not order the destruction of the Canaanites. But if that is so, why did Jesus need to die? If the punishment that we all deserve for our sin was any less than death, God need not have paid that price for us. But he did.
- What happened with the Canaanites shows us where the natural trajectory of our lives leads. Jesus offers us transformation that leads away from cosmic treason and judgement and into following the Prince of Peace.
- Jesus is the one who will ultimately judge the world. He will return in glory to judge the living and dead, as the Creed says. Longman points out that those who have a problem with the Canaanite genocide are likely to have far more of a problem with the Last Judgement. But as the last judgement is something carried out by Jesus, the problem is not in reconciling the God of Joshua with the God of Jesus, but reconciling Christ as Saviour and Christ as Judge.
- Christ can be Judge precisely because he is also Saviour. He has offered us salvation; he has paid the immense price for that salvation. And so if we reject that salvation, we have offended him. The God most of the Canaanites rejected is the same God who died to redeem the few who turned to him, and is the same God who judged them for their rejection of his offer of salvation.