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The Amorite extinction

Series = God’s love in the midst of disaster
“In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Genesis 15:16
Shortly after I became a disciple of the Lord Jesus one of my sisters followed suit, and not long after that one of her two sons also became a Christian. My late brother-in-law was a civil engineer, so when his wife and son shared their faith with him he decided to investigate by reading the Bible, the technical manual, from the beginning. He hadn’t got further than the middle of Genesis when he phoned me in confusion. “But this book is full of death and sacrifices, earthquakes and floods! What’s going on? I though you guys said that God is love?!” 
It is true, and there is no way getting around it; God did use natural calamities to judge humanity and He did order the extermination of whole nations. How do we account for this? Is the God of the Old Testament a different deity to the God of the New Testament? No He isn’t. Jesus used the ancient divine ascription “I am” when referring to himself (John 6:48 et al). When Phillip asked to be shown the Father (reference to the God of the Hebrews) Jesus said “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “(John 14:9-10). No, The Father is God and Jesus Christ the Son is God and there is no difference between the God of the Old and the God of the New. Jesus demonstrated the love of God and John defined God as ‘love’ (1 John 4;8), and wrote the famous words ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
So then, what is the divinely ordered genocide of the Amorites all about? Well this is what is recorded in Deuteronomy 20:16-18; “in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.” So why would God, who is love, order a mass extinction?
To answer this question I need to take you back 450 years to the time of Abraham when God said this to him; “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (Genesis 15:13-16) The key phrase here is, “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure”. God did not order the destruction of the Amorites for 450 years because He was holding back judgment. Now these Amorites were pretty bad people who according to Deuteronomy 12:31 ‘even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.’
During these four and a half centuries God must have repeatedly sent prophets to warn these depraved people and to call them to repentance. This is a reasonable assumption because we have the record of how He used the prophet Balaam in that part of the world and Jonah in the case of the great city of Nineveh.  My understanding is that God only ordered the destruction of these people when redemption was no longer possible and He had to act because of His love for the Israelites and the other nations of that time.
The most obvious example of how and why the God of love judges and destroys is the great flood of Noah’s time. I will write about that in my next post. But for now, just think on how God’s ways apply to us. He warns over and over again and He judges only when redemption is no longer possible. I am so grateful for this for I am convinced that I would not be alive today if God were not as lovingly patient as He is. What about you?

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Christopher Peppler



3 thoughts on “The Amorite extinction”

  1. A point of concern for me the way ‘new covenant’ believers emphasize their status of ‘grace’ as if God did not show tremendous grace to Israel. God is and was faithful and just too both covenants. Similarly Gods justice was also poured out on the disobedience of Israel, in the same that it will also be to the disobedience in the covenant of grace that requires transformation by the Holy Spirit. God is not going to tolerate relaxation of the attitude towards sin due to ‘grace.

  2. Please for humanity’s sake please do it once
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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.