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Offer of Peace – Deuteronomy 20

Have we made peace with God?
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Some people have said the God of the Old Testament was a blood-thirsty and vindictive God. To back their view, they point out that the LORD instructed His people, Israel, to go to war and kill all the inhabitants of Canaan without mercy and then take over their land. But God’s mercy extended much further than we might care to remember.

In His instructions as to how Israel was to behave during battle, God gave these instructions: 

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city (Deuteronomy 20:10–12).

The people Israel battled were not destroyed without a say in the matter. They were offered peace, but most refused and engaged Israel in battle, thus signing their own death warrant. When Joshua led the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, some of the inhabitants did make peace with them, and Israel honored that agreement for peace, going to extreme measures to do so.

Old Testament or New, God shows Himself to be a merciful God, giving sinners the opportunity to repent and accept His conditions right up to the last minute. We have the same choice. Have we made peace with God?

Robert Prins,
Pakuranga Ecclesia, NZ

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